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You’ve probably seen them - television commercials, ranging from five minutes or longer, promoting everything from cosmetics and exercise equipment to cooking utensils and household gadgets. These infomercials usually feature a persuasive salesperson, hired specifically to get you to spend money. The Better Business Bureau reminds consumers that, if an advertised item is something they really need, they may want to listen carefully to the wording and terminology in advertisements and infomercials before deciding to make a purchase.  

When you hear the word ‘free‘... In some cases, infomercials insinuate consumers will be getting something ‘free’ or ‘extra’ if they call in to order an item within a certain period of time.

In many cases, these promotions can entice shoppers to spend over their budget. If you are interested in obtaining a free gift, the Better Business Bureau suggests calculating the cost of the products as a whole to see if the ‘free’ item is really free and worth what you will spend.

Also, if you are ordering an item that needs shipped, you may want to take these fees into consideration as well.  

Sometimes, companies offer free shipping on catalogue or website purchases. You should also think carefully when considering these promotions.

As in the ‘free gift’ offer, some free shipping offers require consumers to spend a specific amount of money which may cause you to go over budget and purchase items you do not need.

In order for a consumer to receive a free gift, the Better Business Bureau says that advertisers must be clear in disclosing the conditions of the ‘free’ gift. In addition, advertisers may not increase the price of an advertised item or decrease the quantity or quality of the item in conjunction with the free offer. Consider reading the fine print at the bottom of television ads. If you cannot read the print, most television promotions can be ordered online where terms and conditions of your purchase may be more accessible for you to read.

Claims like ‘best,’ ‘most’ and ‘top’ are usually objective. Different consumers have different experiences with products depending on their needs. In many cases, these claims are used by advertisers to persuade consumers into buying their product. If you are considering an item in which an advertiser uses these claims, it may be a good idea to ask friends, family or someone you know if they have used the product and what they think of it. Also, many Internet retail sites allow customers the opportunity to write reviews about products. You may want to read the product reviews before you make a decision to spend money.  

The Better Business Bureau reminds consumers that ‘factory direct‘claims should not be used unless the advertising company manufactures the mentioned item and owns the factory where the advertised products are made. Items cannot be claimed as wholesale unless they are being sold to the consumer at the same price as the retailer would purchase them for resale.

Hearing phrases such as ‘Our prices can’t be beat.’ Keep in mind prices for products and services fluctuate regularly. Advertisers may use this phrase as a way to get you into the store quickly, taking advantage of the fact that many shoppers do not have time to do price comparisons.  

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