Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Not sure what you'll child will need their first year away at college? A GCF Visa Gift Card is always the perfect gift for any occasion. Stop into any GCF branch to purchase a GCF Visa Gift Card for someone special!
To ratify a Constitutional Amendment, 38 states must approve the measure, not 28 as appeared in last week's Flash Fact. Our thanks to a loyal reader who brought this error to our attention.
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It wasn't always this way. Online shopping originally meant avoiding mall crowds and long checkout lines. Now it takes longer and can be more tedious than trekking out to the shopping center.
What you see isn't always what you get. The price you first saw may not be what you eventually pay.
We covered online shopping safety in a previous issue. You can still find it online here. It was based on holiday shopping, but the same common sense tips should be applied all year long.
Today we're going to talk about trends. Trends that can prove costly.
If you still get a Sunday newspaper, you'll find it stuffed with sales circulars from all the local brick and mortar stores. Each has their weekly specials highlighted to lure you into their establishment.
You know what you'll pay for a given item. You can see and touch the product before you decide to purchase.
Comparison shopping sites like Pricegrabber.com or Google Shopping will quickly search for your product of choice and display prices from around the web. They perform as a search engine to save you visiting each vendor individually to compare prices.
But when you get there, you may see a different price than you expected. Or you may visit the referred site directly an hour later to find a price increase. Your neighbor may have bought the identical item from the same site yesterday and paid less. Or more.
Online retailers practice dynamic pricing. They are updated by the minute based on multiple factors. And greatly influenced by intelligence gathered through Internet cookies. How close do you live to a brick and mortar store? Are you a repeat customer? Did you visit a price comparison site first or go directly to their site?
You may even see different pricing from your home, office, or mobile browser. If you like the first price you see, grab it while you can.
Some retailers use an abandoned shopping cart to lure you back to their site. If you added an item but didn't follow through with the sale, they're not too happy about letting the purchase slip through their grasp. You may get a follow up email a few days later as a reminder, along with a one-time discount if you complete the purchase in a specified timeframe.
But retailers noticed that consumers have caught on so don't use this as a ploy for better pricing. They're using this strategy on a random basis rather than standard procedure. You may not be selected for the special offer.
What happens when you receive your order to find it looks nothing like the one in the picture? Colors can appear differently. Actual size may be smaller than it appears. It may not fit properly or work with your model device. Or the retailer may have pulled a bait-and-switch and shipped you an inferior item.
Don't submit that order until you know the return policy. If you're shopping on eBay or Amazon, each merchant represented may have their own policy. Don't expect a full refund for a returned item just because you received that last purchase.
Many merchants charge a restocking fee up to 20% for their inconvenience. There are costs involved with receiving, processing, and shipping an order. Those are considered when determining a price for an item.
Those costs are still incurred when it's returned, along with processing the return handling, correcting inventory records and returning the item to stock. If your initial shipping was free, you may find that deducted from your refund as well. Plus you'll incur return shipping costs.
Other merchants guarantee your satisfaction and refund not only your entire purchase price, but your return shipping costs as well. Larger stores can do this. Smaller ones don't have the resources to bear these additional costs. It's truly a matter of economics and not a reflection of a store's integrity.
The best advice is to shop early. Give yourself enough time to compare, purchase and receive an item. And enough time to repeat the drill in case it doesn't work out right the first time.
Operation Backpack 2013
Nobody wants to think about back-to-school yet, but it does sneak up on us quickly. One day it's all barbecues and swimming; the next day it's new clothes and school supplies. Start preparing now so as not to get caught up in all the hectic, last-minute shopping rush. One way to help you and your kids get in the mood for back-to-school is to participate in Operation Backpack.
Unfortunately, there are many kids in communities throughout southern New Jersey whose parents cannot afford to buy them new clothes or new school supplies. By participating in Operation Backpack, you can help these students achieve educational success.
Operation Backpack is a community-wide initiative that provides support to disadvantaged students ages 3-19 in elementary, middle and high school. By providing underprivileged children and teens with basic supplies at the start of the school year, Operation Backpack sets them on the path to academic achievement.
But Operation Backpack can't do it alone. They need your help. Make it a family effort by having your kids participate in the shopping. Have your kids select the items they would like to have for themselves. Kids know best what kids like. By getting the whole family involved, you can teach your kids the importance of giving back to your community.
GCF Bank will be collecting donations for Operation Backpack from now through August 16th. Donations made at GCF Bank locations will go to help students in southern New Jersey areas.
Fill a backpack with any of the suggested school supplies from the list below and drop it off at any GCF Bank location. NEW backpacks and supplies only please! This year, Operation Backpack is especially in need of backpacks for teens.
You can donate just a backpack, a backpack filled with school supplies, or just school supplies. Gift cards for school supplies or clothing are also welcome. Operation Backpack will take it all and pass it on to those in need.
If you cannot drop off any supplies, but would still like to contribute, you can make a donation on the Center for Family Services website. There is a link on their home page to Donate Online. Or, if you would prefer, you can mail your donation to CFS, Operation Backpack, 584 Benson Street, Camden, NJ 08103. Suggested donation amounts are listed below, but you can donate any amount you wish.
If you are not in southern New Jersey and you would like to donate in your local area, do an Internet search on Operation Backpack. They're active in many communities throughout the country.
If you cannot donate any supplies, consider donating your time. Operation Backpack will need volunteers to consolidate, sort, and organize backpacks. To volunteer, contact the Center for Family Services at 856-964-1990, ext. 130 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Become a part of the Operation Backpack team and help make an impact in the life of a child in need. Stop in and donate today!
Tip of the Week
Each of your kids has their own unique interests. Shopping online can be frustrating. One site offers all of your kids' favorite sports and activities gear in one place. AfterSchool.com includes checklists and gear guides to help you buy wisely, and comes from the Quidsi folks who bring the same concept to products for babies, soaps, home decor, pet needs and more. One site, one stop. Point your browser here.
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