Seek Justice, Serve Justice, Do Justice

Consumer Unit

Consumer Tips

  • Avoid offers that seem “too good to be true”
  • Avoid impulse buying on major items
  • Compare the price and quality of the merchandise at other retailers
  • Check with product quality magazines such as Consumer Reports or individuals who own and use the product or service
  • Check to see if the business has the required business licenses
  • Ask the business for references of previous customers
  • Check on the reputation and reliability of the business being dealt with
  • Contact the Better Business Bureau or local regulatory agencies to ascertain the number and nature of the complaints filed against the business
  • Make sure warranties, guarantees, contracts and alterations to contracts are in writing
  • Read all advertisements, warranties, guarantees and contracts fully and carefully
  • Know what the refund policy is
  • Do not be pressured into buying
  • If you purchase a product and are making payments over time, be aware of and understand all finance and interest charges, monthly payments, applicable fees and the total cost
  • Make sure the purchased price matches the advertised price
  • Keep all receipts and documents of the transaction
  • Keep an eye on all credit card transactions and retrieve the card promptly
  • If a problem arises, try to resolve the dispute with the business. Utilize the chain of authority to bring about resolution
  • In order to help preserve your rights, and to help avoid the "he said, she said" cycle, telephonic communications should be summarized and written in a letter to the business. Certifying the letter is a good idea
  • If you cannot resolve the dispute, file a small claims action, retain a private attorney, contact a mediation organization, or file a complaint with the local consumer protection agency or the applicable regulatory agency
  • Do not be afraid to hang up on any unsolicited telephone call

Beware of Telemarketers who:

  • Use high pressure sales tactics
  • Insist on an immediate decision
  • Request a credit card number or social security number for anything other than a bona fide purchase
  • Wants to send someone to your home to pick up the money or requests that you send payment via overnight delivery
  • Make statements that something is "free" and then follows it by a requirement that you have to pay for something
  • Will not provide references that you can contact or any written information about the product, service, charity or the business itself
  • Ask many questions of a personal nature regarding your marital or financial status, social security number, date of birth, the makeup of your household, or your schedule or routine
  • Ask you to withdraw or transfer from your bank account to theirs
  • Play on your emotions by telling you of personal hardships, crisis, or "bad luck"
  • Use a business name that sounds like a governmental agency

View Consumer Alerts

More Tips from Department of Consumer Affairs