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Beyond Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Be an Educated Consumer All Year Long
Black Friday and Cyber Monday have entered our lexicon as the first days of the traditional holiday shopping season, marked by door-busters and free shipping for online purchases. The deals come fast and furious, almost keeping pace with our ever-expanding shopping lists...
Why not give yourself a gift you can enjoy when reviewing your bank and credit card statements in January 2012? The gift of consumer-savvy! The library can help.
Ratings and Reports
- Consumer Reports is known for their fair, unbiased ratings and testing of a wide range of consumer products.
- The Consumerist is a frequently updated blog that provides daily deals as well as warning alarms about the latest bad deals or scams. It also encourages readers to submit their stories of scams, ripoffs, or how they did or didn't get help from customer service after having a problem with a product.
- Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports and parent company of The Consumerist, is "an independent, nonprofit testing and information organization which provides unbiased advice about products and services, personal finance, health and nutrition, and other consumer concerns."
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission provides information on recent recalls; search saferproducts.gov to look at a particular product category and be informed of any known safety issues.
- FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection practical information on a variety of consumer topics, see the sections on "Online Shopping and E-Payments" and "Shopping for Products and Services."
- Better Business Bureau Resource Library - did you know that "more than 60 domain names have been registered in the name of Santa Claus"? Make sure kids' privacy is safe online this holiday season, and read a variety of other useful tips. The BBB is also the place to go to file a complaint on a business.
- New York State, Division of Consumer Protection is the state’s top watchdog and think tank on a wide range of issues.
- The Consumer Action Handbook [PDF] from usa.gov, also see the "Be a Smart Shopper" guide for tips on before and after the purchase, service contracts and warranties, and online shopping.
Product Comparisons and Reviews
- Buzzillions aggregates reviews from different sources and displays them alongside reviews submitted to the site by consumers.
- The Wirecutter is a list of "only great" technology. Also compiles reviews but offers a final appraisal about which is the "best" of each product type.
- Google Product Search gets search results and price data straight from e-commerce sites. Merchants are supposed to include tax and shipping costs to enable clearer comparisons between products on different sites.
- SizeEasy is a tool that lets you compare the sizes of different items by entering their dimensions. Great for visualizing before you buy online.
- The Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) provides information on the buying habits of American consumers, including data on their expenditures, income, and consumer unit (families and single consumers) characteristics.
- Follow this list on Twitter for the latest in consumer updates.
If the retail fervor and nonstop Christmas music in every store has you down, see this list for alternative ways to spend the season of shopping. And if you need a gift for that person that is impossible to buy for, we think NYPL has just the thing.
Do you have a go-to place for reliable reviews? What is your big purchase going to be this month? Let us know in the comments. Happy spending!