As the holiday shopping season gets underway, Bianca Johnson of the Better Business Bureau offers advice on how to protect your wallet during shopping trips, both to brick-and-mortar stores and online.
Here are are a few of her top tips:
• Understand the ads. Read the fine print of advertisements. Make sure you are truly saving money. Check that the prices on the shelf match the ad, and verify the price when checking out.
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• Look into the refund policy. Ask about return policies. Some items may be nonreturnable or carry restocking fees.
• Check the warranty. Black Friday promotional prices may alter the terms of a standard warranty, so make sure you understand all the details before your big purchase.
• Research products. Just because an item is in high demand and being offered at a low price doesn’t mean the product is worthwhile or right for you. Thoroughly research any product you’re interested in purchasing to see how it is performing in the marketplace.
When shopping online:
• Use your credit card for any purchases because they offer more security in case your information is compromised.
• Be wary of hot buys for cheap prices. During high purchase seasons, Internet stores may pop up with attractive prices on the newest items, but they can be followed by a horrible customer service experience or unclear exchange policies. A well-established online retailer will have a proven track record, indicating what your experience is likely to be.
• Confirm your purchase is secure. Shoppers should always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying. If there are any doubts about a site, right-click and select “Properties.” This will reveal if the site is not encrypted.
• Know when you can expect your item. Online retailers are required by federal law to deliver your item within the time promised, or if no specific delivery time is stated, within 30 days of receiving your order.
For more tips, go to necal.bbb.org.
Elsewhere around the Business Beat:
Oakdale Cheese & Specialties is celebrating its 30th year in business with a new website and, for its employees, a party earlier this month.
Lenneke Bulk told me the story of the shop in an email:
“September 1983 was the date that my husband, Walter, and I started our cheese making venture in a remodeled dairy on Lone Tree Road in Escalon. We were newlyweds and just immigrated from the Netherlands. Together we raised three children: two sons, one daughter.
“As our children were always there right with us, they grew up every step of the way with our business. Whether it was as a baby being taken along to the farmers markets or later on earning their first payments by doing chores or doing markets by themselves.”
The Bulks moved their store to Oakdale in 1995. Their oldest son is now the head cheesemaker and helped launch the new website, www.oakdalecheese.com.
Bulk said, “Oakdale has been good. America has been good. Above all, God has been good.”
Oakdale Cheese is at 10040 Highway 120. The store is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call (209) 848-3139.
The cronut has made its way to the West Coast. The cronut is a doughnut-croissant hybrid that became a sensation after its introduction last spring at a bakery in New York City. That bakery has claimed the name, so what’s available here are called croissonuts, and they’re available at Mr. T’s Delicate Donut on Standiford Avenue in Modesto.
I picked some up this week and brought them to the office for a taste test – all in the name of objective journalism, of course. Most folks liked them well enough, though some purists said they would rather have a croissant or a doughnut than a combination pastry. “It’s pretty sweet,” said one taster. Said another, “What’s not to like? You get three major food groups – sugar, butter and oil – all in one bite.”
Me? I liked them, though I agree with one colleague who said a hot cup of coffee with it is a must. As my mother can attest, I am a lifelong fan of fried, sugared dough, so I like the idea of being on the cutting edge of the doughnut industry. If you know of another shop in town that’s producing these treats, let me know and I’ll give them a shot. Oh, the sacrifices I make for my job.