3 important retail policies that will save you money

True bargain hunters know the retail policies and practices that will save them money. Become a savvy bargain hunter: read on for a few helpful tips.

3 important retail policies that will save you money

1. Follow the return policy

  • Before you fork over $100 at the mega-electronics store for a portable DVD player for your kids to watch in the car, visit the customer service desk and read the fine print about the store's return policy. If you don't, you could get stuck with a bad purchase.
  • Stores often require you to follow complicated directions in order to return a product. You may need to provide the receipt and all of the item's original packaging to get a refund or replacement item. So be sure to review the return policy before you leave the store to cut down on confusion later.
  • When you get home from shopping, take your receipt out of the shopping bag and stash it in a special folder in your desk drawer. Then stow the item's box and other packaging in the original shopping bag in the back of your closet until the period of time in which you can return it has passed. If you become dissatisfied with the item, you can quickly reassemble all the elements you need to return it to the store.

2. Use coupons for bargains

  • Coupons are not just for groceries. Department store ads in newspapers often have coupons for 10 to 20 percent off in certain departments or for certain kinds of clothing. Combine that with a sale, and you can snap up some dazzling duds at truly bargain basement prices.
  • If you have a store credit card, check the inserts that come with your bill. You may find a coupon or two tucked in there to lure you back to the store. And stores often have special sales offering an extra 10 to 20 percent off for using their credit card.

3. Act promptly on rebates

  • Many manufacturers offer rebates on their products, from toothpaste to televisions. These can put $20—or even more—back into your pocket. But companies don't always make the rebate process easy, and when you don't follow their rules, you probably won't get your money. After all, they count on a certain percentage of their customers failing to apply for the money.
  • Since you often need to mail in a receipt to claim your rebate, ask for a duplicate of the receipt at the checkout counter. This way you'll have a backup copy in case the company loses the one you send in or you need to return the item because it's defective.
  • As soon as you get home from the store, immediately send off for the rebate. You often have to fill out a form and include the proof of purchase—which is often found on the package—along with the receipt.
  • If you don't stuff all these bits of paper into an envelope right away and mail it to the manufacturer, odds are good that you'll lose one of these crucial elements, and your rebate will slip away.
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