Watch out for ad claims this holiday season

This year, there’s six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Retailers usually kick-off the holiday shopping season the day of or the day after Thanksgiving. This year, shoppers could see the most store advertising since 2008. To help you avoid being separated from your hard-earned cash, your Better Business Bureau shares advice for understanding advertising claims.

According to the National Retail Federation, holiday shopping this year is expected to jump even more than it did in 2012, up to an estimated $602.1 billion. Also, online shopping sales are predicted to jump 15 percent from last year. According to an Accenture report, 65 percent of shoppers will browse online, look for deals and then head into the store to make their purchases.

Every year, shoppers become victims of a too-good-to-be-true deals. Your Better Business Bureau shares what to be on the lookout for with common advertising claims:

“On sale” or “sale”: A sale is defined as a significant reduction in the original price. If the sale price is offered for more than 30 days, this becomes the regular price and it shouldn’t be advertised as on sale.

“Save up to (a certain) percent”: These claims should state both the minimum and maximum savings without misleading the customer.

“Free”: This term should only be used if an unconditional gift is offered. If you’re asked to purchase an item to receive the free gift, it should be clearly disclosed.

“Lowest price”: Ask the company how to take advantage of this claim. Prices for products and services fluctuate regularly. It’s difficult to claim with certainty that prices are lower than competitors.

“Top-rated” or “No. 1”: These statements should only be made if they can be proven by facts or a neutral third party. Claims based on a company’s opinion are subjective and can be deceptive.

Read the fine print. It’s up to you to understand offers, including exclusions or limitations.

Your BBB reviews ads for truth and accuracy through its advertising review program, contacting advertisers and encouraging them to voluntarily correct potentially misleading ads. Any cases not resolved through your BBB’s advertising review program may be referred to the Advertising Review Council (ARC), a joint program of your BBB and the American Advertising Federation — Dayton.

Contact your BBB to report misleading or deceptive advertising. Visit www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.

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