BBB’s Holiday Tips on Scoring Hard to Find Items

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Welcome to this week’s edition of Your Moment of Trust! National experts are predicting an increase in spending this holiday season. There is also a concern if many of the items on consumers’ holiday lists will be available on the shelf or online and are faced with the disappointing words: “Sorry, this item is currently out of stock.” That’s especially true when there are challenges with supply chains.

But does that mean the words “out of stock” are the end of the line? Not at all. With a little determination and some creative thinking, the item might be found and purchased. Here are BBB’s tips for finding items that are sold out in stores.

How to buy out-of-stock items

Try a different store. Avoid limiting the search to the most popular brick-and-mortar stores. Consider researching multiple vendors’ websites to see who is carrying stock. If the large chain stores are out of what you need, try a reputable independent shop or a different type of store entirely. For example, when toilet paper was in short supply at grocery stores, some consumers found stock in unlikely places, such as hardware stores, restaurant suppliers, or office supply stores.

Check websites frequently. If there is an item out of stock when shopping online, don’t give up hope right away. Bookmark the product page and check back daily. Many vendors restock high-demand products on a regular basis.

Sign up for restock alerts. Many companies offer restock alerts, which are usually sent by email. For example, on Amazon, look for an availability alert on a product’s information page. Amazon will send an e-mail when the item becomes available. Keep in mind, you still have to go to the website or store to make the purchase once the alert arrives.

Go straight to the product’s source. If a brand name item isn’t available from a favorite retailer, check the brand’s official website to see if it’s in stock there. If not, consider getting in touch by emailing customer service or reaching out through social media.

Take advantage of return policies. If you suspect that an item will sell out quickly but you aren’t sure if you really need or want it, review the store’s return policy. If a store gives you the option to return an item and offer a refund, you may want to purchase the item as soon as it’s available. You can always send it back if it doesn’t fit your needs, but you may regret not purchasing if the stock runs out for good.

Search for products on resale sites. If a product appears to be gone for good, don’t lose hope just yet. Some resale sites may offer hard-to-find products. That said, watch out for scammers when looking for this year’s hottest toy or a product that is very popular. Con artists prey on desperate shoppers by pretending to have an item that is impossible to find, accepting payments, and then never delivering the product.

Consider a personal shopping service. Personal shoppers can do the heavy lifting if there is a very specific product you are hunting for. Be sure to read reviews and ask for recommendations from friends and family members before deciding to hire.

Try out a subscription service. Subscription services offer regular deliveries of cleaning products, clothing and more. If the local stores are running out of fresh produce, for example, consider a meal delivery service.

Be patient. Sometimes, despite the best efforts, it just may not be possible to find most popular items. If this happens to you, be patient. You may have to wait a few months until suppliers can meet consumers’ demands.

Until next time!

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