Don't Waste Your Money: Are store liquidation sales deals, or duds?

Many shopping centers across America are looking like wastelands these days, with hundreds of store closings.

Sears, Macy's, JC Penney, Sears, Kmart, Gamestop, Radio Shack and Payless Shoe Source are just a few of the retailers shuttering at least some stores. That doesn't even include all the smaller mall stores closing.

The biggest, though, so far in 2017: Indianapolis-based appliance retailer hh gregg, closing all 200 of it stores in 19 states.

The bankrupt chain says it had no choice but to liquidate after being unable to find a buyer.

Shoppers look for deals

As the sale signs are  going up, shoppers are lining up for deals.

Mom Peggy Jackson was hoping for a great deal. But with discounts of just 10 to 15%, she walked out empty handed about 10 minutes  later.

"The prices are too high, for something that's going out of business," Jackson said.

Bill Brohaugh also didn't find anything worth his while, either. "Apparently you have to haul it off yourself," he said, "and obviously I'm not going to fit a refrigerator in that car."

Caution for shoppers

With so many stores going  out of business this year, it's tempting to try to grab a bargain  before those doors lock for good.

But you need to realize that normal buyer protections may not exist.

Sandra Guile of the Better Business Bureau says before you shop a liquidation, ask what happens if the item is defective. In many cases you cannot return it, but will have to call and deal with the manufacturer if you have a problem.

"Take a really close look at the merchandise, make sure it works, make sure the packaging isn't broken." she said. "Take a look at the refund polices.

Also, if you recently bought an extended warranty, find out who will handle it once the store closes.

"If you bought an extended warranty on an appliance or product, read the fine print, find out who that warranty is through,"  Guile said. Many people simply call the store if they have a problem, but you cannot do that if your store is  out of business.

Finally, the BBB says:

  •  Be skeptical of the original list price, as you may find the same items for much less than the "list" price elsewhere.  So while you may think you are saving $200 at a store closing sale, it may be just a savings of $50 over what you can buy it for at Sears, Home Depot, or Lowe's.
  •  Remember that you can't return it if it breaks in a couple of weeks. You will have to deal with the manufacturer.
  • If it is a large appliance, you may have to pay to have it hauled home, or find a friend with strong arms and a pickup truck.
  • Use any gift cards you have as soon as possible, or they may become worthless once the store closes.

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