Chicago, IL, February 10, 2009 - Liquidation sales are occurring throughout Chicago and northern Illinois as both local and national retailers are being hit by the declining economy and need to sell off assets to pay debtors. To customers’ ears, a going-out-of-business sale means huge discounts. However, the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois is warning bargain-hunters to be on the alert for misleading deals when shopping liquidation sales.
“In this economy, we’re all looking for bargains, unfortunately, the bargains are not always as advertised at going-out-of business sales and some consumers don’t realize they’re getting ripped off when they’re supposed to be getting a deal,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois.
When a large retailer decides to liquidate its assets, the actual sale will be undertaken by a liquidator. The liquidator will set the prices and attempt to sell the items quickly and at the highest profit. As a result, some items will actually be marked up for the sale.
The holiday shopping season, which often accounts for more than a third of a retailer’s annual sales, failed to deliver in 2008. Retail sales in the U.S. fell 2.8 percent, the first decline since 1995.
Before being sucked into some not-so-good deals at a liquidation sale, the BBB offers the following advice to consumers:
Confirm that a deal IS a deal. Not only will some liquidators actually mark up prices for going-out-of-business sales, a business’s competitors will sometimes drop their prices in order to compete with a liquidation sale, so the BBB strongly advises consumers to beware of the hype and shop around.
Use a credit card. Credit cards include built-in consumer protections if the company does not deliver on promised goods and the BBB recommends making purchases with a credit card instead of checks or cash.
Don’t count on customer service. Customer service is not a liquidator’s priority and consumers expecting the same level of customer service might be very disappointed. Also, since the company won’t be around in the future, consumers need to understand that all sales are final and that they don’t have many options if they aren’t satisfied with the purchase.
Know the status on warranties. Warranties are often maintained by a manufacturer or a third-party, which means that the warranty will still apply if the retailer goes out of business. However, the consumer should always confirm the status of the warranty before buying.
Use those gift cards ASAP. Businesses that have entered into the liquidation process will not be around for very long and the BBB advises that any consumers who are holding gift cards spend them as soon as possible or risk getting stuck with a worthless piece of plastic.
For more advice you can trust from BBB on how to be a savvy consumer, go to www.bbb.org.