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BBB warns against online personal shoppers offering bargains to avoid Black Friday lines

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) - With Black Friday only a week away, many holiday shoppers are tempted to avoid the hectics and lines by hiring someone else to check off their lists. You can hire a personal shopper right now to do anything from grabbing some quick groceries to filling the entire family's wish lists, but before you take to Craigslist of Facebook to find your holiday helpers -- a word of caution from the Better Business Bureau.

"You wanna make sure you're choosing someone you can trust and in essence, you're hiring someone to do your shopping for you so treat it as you would any other business," advises Kelvin Collins, CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving the Fall Line Corridor.

Collins suggests the following steps when considering bargain offers to avoid Black Friday crowds:

  • Interview potential candidates for personal shoppers
  • Ask for and follow up with references
  • Accept recommendations from friends or family members if possible
  • Establish a written agreement 
  • Never give out personal information without established security
  • If a shopper requires payment ahead, use a credit card to easily counteract cases of fraud

Collins says the written agreement may be the most important part of the arrangement with a personal shopper for liability and to avoid confusion.

"Set up those boundaries ahead of time. Some people just want some quick errands done, other people are looking for someone to use their style and judgment to choose items for them. So write down exactly what you want, also your style and preferences, and make sure both parties sign so you're protected," he says.

The easiest thing to do -- shop at licensed and insured businesses that already offer personal shoppers.

"It's truly a joy to help people find a look that they love or a look for others to love, says Leslie Sejat, a personal shopper at Clothes Mentor in The Landings.

Leslie and her coworker Desiree regularly accept in-store and online requests for personal shopping from the 13,000 to 15,000 items in the store on a daily basis.

"We actually pick out the items before they come in. We look again at the style and the size. We pick out some outfits, show them, and of course if they don't like it, we'll look again through the store," says Desiree Weldon

Both women say they find being a personal shopper in an established business more secure -- for themselves and for their customers.

"I would definitely say it's a lot safer. We have everything here in the store when it comes to fashion, so we'd be able to put together entire looks for for a really great price, versus someone just going out and buying whatever with your own money," explains Leslie.

Clothes Mentor will continue accepting personal shopper requests through the store's Black Friday and Small Business Saturday specials. Learn more here.


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