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5 Tips for avoiding consumer hassle

Shop smart

Let's face it -- shopping in stores, ordering online and making payments isn't always as easy as the commercials make it seem. Road bumps like bad customer service, computer crashes and unreliable ratings can cause dread like no other. Tips like these, however, will make it possible to face these tasks head on.

When it comes to shopping smart, websites like Consumerist.com are dedicated to addressing consumer concerns. SheKnows is all for making life as simple as possible, so we consulted Andrea Woroch, money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc., to bring you the most helpful and up to date tips to follow. When you're looking to buy, these five simple steps will get you started.

 

Who to trust

You go to your friends for everything from where to cut your hair to whether blue or green is more your color, so why shy away from them at other times? Recommendations for repairs around the house or information regarding what specialists are most skilled should come from people you know. After all, your friends trust whomever they're recommending to work on their own repairs.

That being said, it does not mean that you should skimp on checking out the company or person you plan on hiring. Make sure the person you choose is licensed and professional.

 

Spend Away

Saving money is smart. Saving gift cards is not. True, they are vouchers and thus a form of cash, but they don't last the same way. If you let gift cards gather dust, chances are they will expire (Or worse, the store will go out of business before you use your credit -- which DOES happen). Why take the risk of waiting to see whether a store will honor a gift card gone stale? If there's nothing you want to buy right away, purchase a gift you think a friend would like and save that. Andrea also suggests selling your credit to GiftCardGranny.com.

 

Know what you are buying

With the internet, everything you could ever want is at your fingertips. But as we all know from watching Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. Don't let internet companies cheat you out of deals or misrepresent their products. Before giving your credit card number out, make sure you are buying from a reliable source. If you feel confident in your purchase, keep the receipt. This way, if you feel that what you were sent doesn't match what you bought, you can easily track it, and if need be, dispute your purchase.

 

Be suspicious

It can be difficult to tell what's a real deal and what's a scam. We're sad to say it, but when it comes to shopping online, it's best to be suspicious. Andrea recommends going to the National Consumers League's Fraud Center if you think you've been cheated. She also warns against trusting strangers with your credit card.

 

Keep your cool

Dealing with failed or late orders can be frustrating -- we get it. But before scrawling down "a piece of your mind" and mailing it from your nearest post office, take a second to calm down. Then, if you can, go to the organization itself to let them know what happened. If it's not worth your time or is out of your way, pick up the phone to explain your side of the story. Resort to angry letters last. As Consumerist.com will tell you, they rarely get you anywhere.

 

Tell Us!

Whether you are in the stores, on the net or on the phone, everyone has experienced consumer issues. What is your biggest shopping woe?

 

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