Hardly any other season involves as much toy shopping as winter holidays do. We buy toys for our kids, children of our friends and relatives, and, sometimes, even for ourselves. As we rush into purchasing things, it’s very important not to become a victim of a holiday scam.

According to Joanna Simpson, a Head of Marketing of a review website, “Too often customers don’t get what they expect from the company”. In this guide, she gives tips to consumers on how to get a satisfactory result on your issue with a company.

However, to save your time and prevent you from falling into the hands of scammers, we’ve made a list of potential Christmas toy shopping problems, such as delivery scams, fake products, price gouging, and overcharging which you need to be aware of.

1. Artificially inflated prices


Every year brings a new marketing craze. Pokémon, Hotwheels, Bionicles, Furby – the list goes on. At times, the demand for the product goes so high that the prices for it go skyrocketing. Sometimes the demand is so high that some Amazon stores double the product price as all the major authorized retailers appear to be all sold out.

2. Misleading product descriptions

Sadly, e.g, Fingerlings is associated with one more major problem holiday shoppers encounter – fake product descriptions. Many are in a hurry to shop and do not suspect that the unscrupulous e-shop owners use the well-known product’s images and names to market a completely different, yet visually similar, toy.

3. Hidden charges and overcharging


Everyone likes good deals and offers like “Buy 2, get 1 free” or “Just pay shipping cost” doesn’t surprise us anymore. However, shoppers should always stay alert. Due to either a mistake in website settings or because of a deliberate scam intent, you may still get charged full price, despite all the discounts and freebies offered in pop-ups and product descriptions. What’s worse, the retailer may not even bother to make up for the overcharge.

You must also watch out for subscriptions and memberships. You may be surprised to find out that, together with the product (or instead of it), you purchased a subscription for the items or services you might not even need. You may discover the mistake way too late. It’s never a bad idea to spend a few extra minutes to read what exactly you are signing up for when you are buying something online.

Also, very often something promised to be as a free trial happens to be not free. When you sign for a free trial or a free subscription read the terms first, especially when you’re asked to add your credit card. This way you can avoid some other major problems like communication with customer service reps in order to get a refund.

4. Low-quality and counterfeit products


There are hardly any things that kill your holiday mood more effectively than a gift that arrives at your house broken.

Unfortunately, this is the reality for many shoppers. What adds insult to injury is the fact that the store you bought a present from may completely refuse to fix the issue.

Even if the product arrived in one piece, it doesn’t guarantee that it will last. At times, you are not informed about scarce/expensive spare parts or the fact that the product price is low because, essentially, the toy was designed to be working for a few weeks only.

That’s why it’s a good idea to inquire about potential maintenance/part replacement prices for the more expensive toys. Or, to check if there the store offers an exchange or return policy in case of unexpected damages. It would be a good idea to inquire about the warranty policy, especially for the expensive toys.

5. Delivery issues and return scams


Some of us may have become so got used to overnight product delivery that waiting for a whole week for your package to arrive turns into unbearable torture. Yet, sometimes it takes even longer for the parcel to arrive, as some of your purchases may be coming all the way from China. Naturally, consumers may get unhappy and leave a bad store review, which is justified if they get their order way past the date they needed it.

What do I do to avoid holiday scams?

  • Don’t rush. Compare prices from several retailers, choose the one that’s the most suitable for you
  • Be attentive. Even if your shipping and credit card data is auto-filled, be sure to double-check it before you place the order – this way you can avoid return scams.
  • Don’t fall for “traps”. Some retails will try to lure you into a purchase using dishonest techniques. Watch out for annoying multiple pop-ups, offer countdowns that re-set when you refresh the page, and extremely high discounts. Trust your browser – if it says that website is suspicious or is not secure, don’t shop there.
  • Go for bigger retailers. No matter how good it is to support small businesses, don’t ruin your holiday by shopping in a newly-opened store. You need to be sure that the place you buy gifts is at well-reputed and reliable. Besides, big retailers are normally much better at handling complaints.
  • Check delivery terms. Some stores may actually extend the delivery time in the seasons of high demand, so be prepared to wait a bit longer.
  • Read the reviews. Learn from other people’s mistakes and see what are the potential “red flags”. It’s also super helpful if you, too, leave reviews on the purchases you make.
  • Have a plan “B”. If you cannot get this super popular toy for your kid, think of more accessible alternatives.

The holiday season is about sharing, caring, and spending time together. While you do need to be careful when shopping for toys and other presents, make sure that you, above all other things, enjoy choosing the best gifts for your loved ones.

May the luck and lightning-fast delivery be with you. Find more holiday tips on how to spend the season to remember and to protect yourself from losing money. Happy holidays!