What You’ll Learn
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What You’ll Learn What You’ll Learn Section 4.1 Determine the factors that influence buying decisions. Explain a research-based approach to buying goods and services. Identify strategies for making wise buying decisions. Section 4.2 Identify ways to solve consumer problems. Describe the legal alternatives for consumers. Comparison Shopping Personal Finance Unit 1 Chapter 4 © 2007 Glencoe/McGraw-Hill Comparison Shopping Q: I would like to purchase a new stereo. Is it really that important for me to comparison shop? A: Prices and quality can be very different from one store to another. Particularly with expensive items, it is worthwhile to compare prices on similar items to see if one store has a lower price than the others. If you write down the manufacturer and style information, you can do a lot of this “legwork” by phone, by looking at store advertisements, or by doing research on the Internet. Go to finance07.glencoe.com to complete the Standard & Poor’s Financial Focus activity. Main Idea How could learning about consumer purchasing benefit you now and in the future? Personal Finance Unit 1 Chapter 4 © 2007 Glencoe/McGraw-Hill Main Idea Understanding the factors that influence your buying decisions will help you get the best value for your money. Factors That Influence Buying Decisions Factors That Influence Buying Decisions Wise buying decisions will: Help you get the most out of the products you buy now Enable you to meet your long-term financial goals To get the most for your money, you will need to recognize the economic, social, and personal factors that affect your buying habits. Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Trade-Offs and Buying Decisions Trade-Offs and Buying Decisions Keep in mind that buying decisions always involve trade-offs. Some examples of trade-offs include: Buying a sound system with a credit card instead of waiting until you have saved enough money to pay cash for it Choosing a poorly made or difficult to repair jacket because it is the cheapest one available Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Researching Consumer Purchases Researching Consumer Purchases By taking time to do research and evaluating products you want to buy, you can get more value for your money. A research-based approach to buying has four phases: Before you shop Weighing alternatives Making the purchase After the purchase Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Phase 1: Before You Shop Phase 1: Before You Shop Before you begin to shop, you need to do some background work. A good start to successful shopping involves three steps: Identifying your needs Gathering information Becoming aware of the marketplace Completing these steps will enable you to get what you really want. Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Identifying Your Needs and Gathering Information Identifying Your Needs and Gathering Information If you define your needs clearly, you will be more likely to make the best buying decisions. Information for buying decisions usually falls into three categories: Costs Options Consequences Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Information Sources Information Sources Simple, routine purchases probably do not require much more research than your own experience can provide. You can find information about more expensive items through: Recommendations by people you know Product advertising and labeling Media sources Consumer publications Government agencies The Internet Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Becoming Aware of the Marketplace Becoming Aware of the Marketplace When you become aware of the marketplace, you will be able to identify: The brands and features from which you can choose Average prices for an item Where you can obtain reliable information about similar products Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Phase 2: Weighing Alternatives As you evaluate alternatives when making a purchase, decide which characteristics of the product are important to you. You can judge a potential purchase by considering the following factors: Your personal values Available time for research Amount of money you have to spend Convenience of buying the item immediately Pros and cons of a particular brand Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Compare Prices Compare Prices The price of an item is an important consideration. When prices and quality vary, you have two options: Buy the highest-quality item if you can afford all choices. Consider buying the item that gives you the best value per dollar if you cannot afford all choices. Remember that while differences in price may be related to quality, price does not always equal quality. Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Comparison Shopping Comparison Shopping Comparison shopping can be useful when: You are buying complex or expensive items. You are buying items you purchase often. You are using the Internet, print advertisements, or mail-order catalogs. Different sellers are offering different prices and services. Product quality or price varies greatly. Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Phase 3: Making the Purchase After you have completed the research and evaluation process, you may wish to: Negotiate the price. Decide whether to use credit or cash. Determine the real price of the product. Certain purchases, such as real estate or cars, may involve price negotiation. To negotiate, research information about the product and the buying situation. Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Deciding on Cash or Credit Deciding on Cash or Credit Before deciding to use credit, evaluate its costs, such as interest rates and fees. These costs will differ depending on various factors: Source of the loan Type of credit account Payment period Amount of down payment down payment a portion of the total cost of an item that must be paid at the time of purchase Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Phase 4: After the Purchase Phase 4: After the Purchase After making a purchase, you may have other costs or tasks. When buying a car, for example, these will include: Additional maintenance Ownership costs (gasoline and insurance) Repair service Remember that the purchasing process is an ongoing activity. You should rethink and reevaluate your decisions. Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Smart Buying Strategies Smart Buying Strategies Whatever your buying style, several strategies can help you get the most value for your dollar: Timing of purchases Store selection Brand comparison Label information research Price comparison Warranty evaluation Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Timing Purchases Timing Purchases You are more likely to find a bargain at certain times of the year. You can save money by: Buying seasonal clothing about midway through a particular season Shopping at back-to-school sales, spring sales, and other special sales Taking advantage of clearance sales Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Store Selection Store Selection Your decision to shop at a store may be influenced by the: Quality and variety of goods Price Hours Location Reputation Policies Services such as parking and delivery Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Alternatives to Store Shopping Alternatives to Store Shopping Over the years, several alternatives to store shopping have emerged, including: The cooperative Direct selling (mail order, TV home shopping, and online shopping) An advantage of these types of shopping is the convenience of not having to leave home; disadvantages include paying for shipping and handling and difficulty in returning purchases. Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Brand Comparison Brand Comparison Remember to consider price and quality when: Comparing brands Choosing between national-brand products and store-brand, or generic, products You can avoid impulse buying by: Planning what you are going to buy before you shop Taking a list of what you need Impulse buying can cost you more, and you may buy products that you do not really need. impulse buying purchasing items on the spur of the moment Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing HONEST BRANDING Some food labels claim that the product is considered “low in fat” or “lighter.” Foods must meet government criteria to be labeled with such terms. Why do you think this type of regulation is necessary? Label Information Research Label Information Research Federal laws require labels to present factual information. For example, food labels must indicate the: Common name of the product Name and address of the manufacturer or distributor Net weight of the product List of the ingredients in decreasing order of weight Nutritional information Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Personal Finance Unit 1 Chapter 4 © 2007 Glencoe/McGraw-Hill Impulse Buying Too much impulse buying can ruin a budget. When you are tempted to buy clothes, cool sneakers, CDs, or anything else that you really do not need, give yourself a two-day cool-down period. If you decide you really want it, you can go back to the store and buy it. However, chances are that most things will not seem as necessary a few days later. How would you plan your budget to allow for some impulse buying? Open Dating Open Dating To help consumers determine the freshness of some foods, manufacturers print dates on the labels. Labels indicate open dating with phrases such as: “Use before May 25, 2008” “Not to be sold after October 8” open dating a labeling method indicating the freshness, or shelf life, of a perishable product, such as milk or bread Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Price Comparison Price Comparison You can save money by taking advantage of: Discount coupons Manufacturers’ rebates Most grocery stores and drugstores display the unit pricing information for the products they sell. If a store does not provide this information, you can calculate the unit price by dividing the price of the item by the unit of measurement. rebate a partial refund of the price of a product unit pricing the use of a standard unit of measurement to compare the prices of packages that are different sizes Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Guidelines for Price Comparison Guidelines for Price Comparison When comparing prices, the following guidelines can be very helpful: More convenience usually means higher prices. Large packages are usually the best buy. Ready-to-use products usually have higher prices. Buying items “on sale” may not always mean that you save money. Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Warranty Evaluation Warranty Evaluation Many products come with a guarantee of quality called a warranty. Warranties are divided into two basic types: Implied—unwritten guarantees that cover certain aspects of a product or its use Express—full or limited written warranties When you buy a product, you may be offered an extended warranty, or service contract. Before purchasing a service contract, make sure that it is worth the cost. warranty a written guarantee from the manufacturer or distributor that states the conditions under which the product can be returned, replaced, or repaired service contract a separately purchased agreement by the manufacturer or distributor to cover the costs of repairing the item Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Smart Shopping Smart Shopping Smart shoppers know: When to buy Where to buy What to buy How much to pay How to make sure that the products they buy will perform as advertised Section 4.1 Consumer Purchasing Main Idea What would you do if you received a bill for an item you did not buy? Personal Finance Unit 1 Chapter 4 © 2007 Glencoe/McGraw-Hill Main Idea Various methods can solve consumer problems. Legal alternatives are available to consumers. Sources of Consumer Complaints Sources of Consumer Complaints Every purchase involves some degree of risk. Most customer dissatisfaction results from products that are: Defective Of poor quality Consumers also complain about: Unexpected costs Deceptive pricing Unsatisfactory repair service Another source of consumer complaints is fraud. fraud dishonest business practices that are meant to deceive, trick, or gain an unfair advantage Section 4.2 Resolving Consumer Complaints Common Types of Fraud Common Types of Fraud As a consumer, you must be aware of various types of fraud. Telephone and mail scams, for example, may offer you phony: Free prizes Travel packages Work-at-home schemes Investment opportunities Section 4.2 Resolving Consumer Complaints Protecting Yourself from Fraud Protecting Yourself from Fraud Protect yourself from consumer fraud by: Recognizing it before you become a victim Reporting it if you see it happening Section 4.2 Resolving Consumer Complaints Resolving Differences Between Buyers and Sellers Resolving Differences Between Buyers and Sellers If you are dissatisfied with a product or service and decide to make a complaint, document the process by keeping a file of: Section 4.2 Resolving Consumer Complaints Return to the Place of Purchase Return to the Place of Purchase Most consumers can resolve their complaints at the original place of purchase. Remember to: Bring sales receipts and other relevant information. Remain calm and avoid yelling or threatening the salespeople or managers. Explain the problem as clearly as possible, and ask them to help you resolve it. Section 4.2 Resolving Consumer Complaints Contact Company Headquarters Contact Company Headquarters If you cannot resolve your problem at the local store or business, contact the company’s headquarters. Sending a complaint letter can be effective. You can find a company’s address through: Consumer’s Resource Handbook The library Company Web sites Section 4.2 Resolving Consumer Complaints Consumer Agency Assistance Consumer Agency Assistance If the company is not providing the answers you seek, get help from various: Consumer organizations Business organizations (Better Business Bureau) Government organizations (Food and Drug Administration, Consumer Product Safety Commission) Section 4.2 Resolving Consumer Complaints Dispute Resolution Dispute Resolution Dispute resolution programs offer other ways to settle disagreements about a product. Working out a complaint may involve: Settling a dispute through one of these methods can be quicker, less expensive, and less stressful than going to court. mediation the attempt by a neutral third party to resolve a conflict between a customer and a business through discussion and negotiation arbitration a process whereby a conflict between a customer and a business is resolved by an impartial third party whose decision is legally binding Section 4.2 Resolving Consumer Complaints Sources for Dispute Resolution Sources for Dispute Resolution Sources for dispute resolution programs in your area include: Local or state consumer protection agencies State attorney general’s office Small claims courts Better Business Bureau Trade associations Local bar associations If these dispute resolution methods do not produce the results you want, you may choose to take legal action. Section 4.2 Resolving Consumer Complaints Legal Options for Consumers First, try to settle your dispute by: Going to the place of business Contacting the company’s headquarters Getting help from a consumer agency However, if you are still unhappy with the outcome, your final alternative is the legal system. Section 4.2 Resolving Consumer Complaints Small Claims Court Small Claims Court Every state has a court system to settle minor disagreements. When you present your case in a small claims court: Be calm and polite and stick to the point. Submit your own evidence, such as receipts, contracts, and photographs. Use witnesses who can testify on your behalf and support your claims. This process will take a few weeks. small claims court a court that deals with legal disputes that involve amounts below a certain limit Section 4.2 Resolving Consumer Complaints Class-Action Suits Class-Action Suits Sometimes many people have the same complaint. A group may qualify for a class-action suit when several people are, for example: If a situation qualifies for a class-action suit, all parties must be notified of the suit. If a court rules in favor of the class action, the money awarded may be: Divided among the claimants Put into public funds class-action suit a legal action on behalf of all the people who have suffered the same injustice Section 4.2 Resolving Consumer Complaints Other Legal Alternatives Other Legal Alternatives If you do not want to go to small claims court or join in a class-action suit, you may seek the services of a lawyer. You can find a lawyer by: Getting a referral from someone you know Checking newspapers and the yellow pages of the phone book Calling a local branch of the American Bar Association (ABA) Make sure that the lawyer you choose has experience in handling your type of case. Section 4.2 Resolving Consumer Complaints Legal Aid Society Legal Aid Society If the cost of lawyers and other legal services is too high for you, you may be able to: Seek help from a legal aid society. Visit a legal clinic. Your income must fall below a certain amount to qualify for help from a legal aid society. Section 4.2 Resolving Consumer Complaints Avoiding Consumer Problems Avoiding Consumer Problems You will have fewer consumer problems if you: Do business only with companies that have good reputations. Avoid signing contracts and other documents you do not understand. Watch out for offers that seem too good to be true. Section 4.2 Resolving Consumer Complaints Key Term Review Key Term Review down payment cooperative impulse buying open dating unit pricing rebate warranty service contract fraud mediation arbitration Chapter 4 Consumer Purchasing and Protection small claims court class-action suit legal aid society Reviewing Key Concepts List the economic, social, and personal factors that influence a decision to buy an article of clothing. Buying decisions are influenced by: Economic factors—prices, brand names, quality, and maintenance costs Social factors—lifestyle and culture Personal factors—age, occupation, and family size Chapter 4 Consumer Purchasing and Protection Reviewing Key Concepts Reviewing Key Concepts Describe the research-based steps for buying a personal computer. A research-based approach to buying involves: Identifying needs Gathering information Becoming aware of the marketplace Weighing alternatives Making the purchase Chapter 4 Consumer Purchasing and Protection Reviewing Key Concepts Reviewing Key Concepts Explain why some of the strategies for making wise purchases may be more important than others, depending on the item being purchased. Although some purchases may require more careful weighing of options, smart shoppers know: When to buy Where to buy What to buy How much to pay How to make sure that the products they buy will perform as advertised Chapter 4 Consumer Purchasing and Protection Reviewing Key Concepts Reviewing Key Concepts Identify methods to resolve consumer complaints. To solve consumer problems: Return to the place of purchase. Contact the company that manufactured the disputed product. Obtain help from a consumer agency or dispute resolution program. Initiate legal action. Chapter 4 Consumer Purchasing and Protection Reviewing Key Concepts Reviewing Key Concepts Describe the advantages and disadvantages of small claims court and joining a class-action suit. If you are unable to solve a dispute through other means, the legal system may help you to achieve your desired results. However, going to court will be: Slower More expensive More stressful Chapter 4 Consumer Purchasing and Protection Newsclip: Continuous Shopping Newsclip: Continuous Shopping Consumer spending has been on the rise since 2001. Despite unemployment rates, higher oil prices, and terrorist threats, Americans continue to shop. Log On Go to finance07.glencoe.com and open Chapter 4. List reasons consumers continue to spend. Ask you teenage friends what they buy and want. Make a list.
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