North Carolina Department of Justice
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Tips for smart back-to-school shopping

Release date: 8/20/2014

AG Cooper offers advice to help parents, students get good deals

Raleigh: Across North Carolina, parents and students are preparing for traditional calendar schools to start back from summer break, which means stocking up on the necessary back to school supplies.   
“Families getting their kids ready to start a new school year can benefit from a few smart shopping tips,” Cooper said.  “Shopping around, using price matching policies, buying from reputable retailers , and checking refund and return policies can help you avoid back-to-school shopping headaches.”
Cooper offered the following tips for back-to-school shoppers:

  • Know what you’re shopping for. Study school supply lists carefully before you shop and make sure you know specifics on size, quantity and type needed.  Buying the right supplies to start with saves you the time and trouble of returning the wrong items, and the expense of not being able to return an item that’s been opened.
  • Shop around.  Many retailers offer promotions on popular back-to-school items but compare prices to be sure you’re getting a good deal.  Ask if the retailer offers a price matching policy if you find a product you bought offered or advertised for less at another store.  This can save you time and money.
  • Buy from stores you know.  Buying from well-established retailers improves the odds that you’ll be able to return or exchange a purchase if needed.  To check out a company’s track record, call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or contact your local Better Business Bureau.  Also, check with your school to see if it has a recommended retailer that will send a portion of your purchase price back to the school.
  • Shop safely online, too.   If you shop online, stick to well-established companies with secure web sites (look for a lock icon on the site and a web address that starts with “https”). Get the company’s street address and telephone number and verify them before you place an order.

  • Consider buying used or second-hand.  Buying certain items used, especially expensive text books and electronics such as graphic calculators, can save you a lot of money. Check out local resale stores as well as websites such as eBay or Craigslist for second-hand deals.
  • Learn about refund and return policies.  Stores aren’t required by law to accept returned items, so ask about refunds and return policies before you buy.  Many retailers offer store credit instead of a cash refund, and some charge a “restocking fee” for returns.   Hang on to receipts, including printed receipts for online purchase. If your purchase came by mail, you may have to pay shipping to return it. 
  • Consider paying by credit card to improve your chances of getting a refund if the retailer goes out of business.  If you order supplies that never arrive, you may be able to dispute the charge. 
To check out a company with the Attorney General’s Office or file a consumer complaint, call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina or visit  

Media contact: Noelle Talley (919) 716-6413