published Friday, June 15th, 2012

BizBulletin: Savvy gift-buying tips for Father's Day

Jim Winsett

Q I would like to get my Dad a really great gift this Father's Day. Does the BBB offer any idea or tips to get a great deal for Dad?

A According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 70.1 million fathers across the nation. That's a whole lot of dads, and whole lot of Father's Day gifts that could fall victim to a shopping scam.

As we look to celebrate this special day with the men we love, it is important to know how to spend money wisely.

Whether you are looking to get Dad something traditional like a watch, or something flashier like the latest electronic gadget, check out the business first. These gifts can get expensive. Always get information on refund, exchange and warranties in writing. Do not hesitate to ask if there is a return time limit, and get a gift receipt to enclose with your gift in case Dad needs to take it back.

BBB offers the following ideas and tips for Father's Day gifts:

• Gift Cards and Certificates. Check the terms and conditions of any gift card or certificate prior to purchase to ensure that the expiration date and any other conditions will not be problematic. If you are giving a gift card to someone who will make online purchases, be sure the gift card is redeemable for Internet shopping and not just for in-store use.

• Electronics. Whether you plan to give Dad a camera, GPS system, phone, music player, DVD player or other electronic device, be sure that you do not remove it from its box before wrapping it up as a gift. Many electronics stores require the original packaging in order to process returns or exchanges.

• Recreational Rentals. If you are interested in renting ATVs, campers, canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, motorcycles or other recreational equipment this Father's Day, be sure that you get a written contract that includes details such as the base rental cost, daily fees, insurance and time restrictions. Also, take the time to visually inspect the rental and get written proof of any existing damage before renting the equipment.

• Guides, Tours and Classes. Fishing, sightseeing, skydiving and golf lessons are a fun way to celebrate and spend time with Dad. However, it is important to get details about these classes and adventures in writing and advance of the trip. Be sure to clarify:

• Are reservations required and if so, by when?

• What are the total costs and features?

• What services and equipment are included?

• Are taxes or any other charges added?

• Are there any restrictions or special time requirements?

• Are there any cancellation or refund penalties or policies?

Get answers to your questions each Friday from Jim Winsett, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Inc., which serves Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia. Submit questions to his attention by writing to Business Editor Dave Flessner, Chattanooga Times Free Press, P.O. Box 1447, Chattanooga, TN, 37401-1447, or by e-mailing him at dflessner@ timesfreepress.com.

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