(WIBW) Atty. Gen. Stephen Six is surrounded by his staff from the the Consumer Protection Division as he announces its accomplishments in 2008.
TOPEKA -- The holiday shopping season is by far the busiest time of year for most shoppers and retail stores -- and the season also generates more than its share of consumer problems. Attorney General Steve Six is warning Kansans today to be smart consumers this holiday season.
“The holiday shopping season is already well underway. Unfortunately, it’s a prime time for consumers to get scammed,” Six said. “I encourage Kansans to take precautions when making holiday purchases and take time to read the company’s policies and fine print.”
Six went on to say that the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Office typically sees a lot of complaints involving online shopping, refund problems, gift cards, and charities.
Tips to help avoid consumer problems:
Be sure to shop with reputable companies. Make sure the seller lists an address or toll-free number just in case you have a problem.
Be sure purchases are refundable in case you are not satisfied.
Get all details on shipping and handling fees, refund and return policies, and complaint procedures. Print it out and keep records of your purchase.
Use only "secure" web sites. (You can tell if a site is secure by looking for a small padlock icon in address bar)
Pay by credit card (not by check) so you can dispute the bill and withhold payment if necessary.
Returns and "layaways":
Make sure you know a store's policy on returns or layaways before you make a purchase. Remember, there is no state law that requires stores to give a refund, exchange, or credit for merchandise that is returned or taken off layaway (unless the store advertises that it accepts such returns, or unless an article is defective or was misrepresented.)
Remember, Kansas’s three-day-right-to-cancel law only applies to door-to-door sales, or sales made away from a seller's usual place of business. In short, most refund policies are up to individual retailers.
Always keep receipts. Most stores will not make refunds without them.
If you're thinking of buying a gift certificate, check the store's policy. Find out if the store will give a credit or cash return if the purchase price is less than the value of the gift certificate, and any other terms the store places on the certificates.
A gift certificate issued by a retailer that files for bankruptcy or closes its doors may become worthless. If a retailer files for bankruptcy, consumers should call to find out if the store is still accepting gift cards.
Ask for written information, including how much of the money raised is actually used for charitable purposes and how much will end up in the hands of the professional fundraiser.
Be careful with telemarketers requesting contributions - oftentimes the telemarketer keeps a substantial portion of the donation.
Do not be pressured into making a contribution or pledge.
Do not feel obligated to send a donation to charities that send token gifts such as key chains, greeting cards, mailing labels, etc.
Make certain the charitable organization actually serves the need it claims to serve.
Ask for financial statements of the organization to determine who will benefit from the donations.
Visit the Web site at www.KsCharityCheck.org or call (785) 296-4564 to find information on charitable organizations registered in Kansas, your rights as a consumer when giving to charities and the Kansas Charitable Organization and Solicitation Act.
To file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, call 1(800) 432-2310 or visit www.ksag.org.