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Information Sources

The best reference source for information about buying goods or services is a personal referral: people who have themselves compared price and value and who can make a recommendation to you based on their own experience.

If you seek recommendations this way, try to get several. The first person you ask may not be a very careful shopper, or may not be particularly price conscious. If you get an indication that a person was particularly pleased with the service he or she received, mark it down as a plus, then move on to further information gathering.

Be specific about the issues. For example, how easy is it to return or exchange a product? What if something goes wrong? What you’re looking for is a story of a business that goes out of its way to please its customers. When you find one, use it, recommend it to others and let the business owners themselves know you appreciate them.

If you do not have access to a personal recommendation, you will have to shop with extreme care. Compare prices carefully. Many Internet sites allow users to upload reviews of products with ratings on various criteria. Use them.

When you are physically inside a retail establishment, don’t be too anxious to buy, especially if you feel you are being pressured by a salesperson. Regardless of what a salesperson may tell you, there is enough variety in the American economy to allow you to get the product you want elsewhere at the same price, perhaps at a better price. Take your time and shop wisely.

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