Here’s how not to get burned by a last-minute online gift purchase

Taking Action

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - You have less than a week to finish your Christmas shopping and, if you're like a lot of people, you'll be doing it online.

While shopping digitally is convenient (you just have to browse, click and ship) it can also burn you if you're buying at the last minute. There's just not much time left to correct problems.

That said, here are some taking action tips to avoid getting burned by a bad purchase.

First, shop online retailers which offer reviews. The more, the better. That said, fake reviews can be a problem, so if you're buying any product for the first time, a Google search can't hurt. You're more likely to uncover issues.

Watch your shipping deadlines closely and make sure to check for a guaranteed arrival date. You don't want to pay extra, then not get your item in time for Christmas.

Also, make sure to review return policies before you buy. That way you won't be caught off guard with shipping or restocking fees on the back end.

Last but not least, don't forget your budget. Using credit cards, especially online, can make it easy to lose track of spending.

"A lot of us look at the big purchases and say, 'Oh yeah, I remember that $200 purchase, that $100,' said cyber expert Jennifer VanderWier, "It's the little ones, $3.99, $4.99 that hit."

All that said, shopping at your local, neighborhood store may be your best option. You can actually pick up items and feel them; know exactly what you're getting.

That strategy works well for Robin George. WHNT News 19 caught up with her Saturday at Huntsville's The Little Green Store & Gallery as she shopped for a friend.

"I needed one last gift and I knew this was the only place I would find it," George said, "I don't buy much online unless I've already purchased it before."

It's a sentiment many shoppers likely feel. As store owner Ana Byrne explained, there has been a steady stream of customers in the final days before Christmas, likely eager to check out the art shop's recently expanded space.

If you're in the market for a local gift, you can meet with artist Alan Davis at The Little Green Store on Sunday, Dec. 20th. He'll be showcasing some of his works. The store is open from 1:00pm until 5:00pm.




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