Can I get a refund? BBB tips for smart holiday shopping

Postive experiences also generate stress
holiday shopping

Don’t get caught holding the bag when it comes to holiday gift shopping.

You’ve just packed up the Halloween decorations and now you’re being bombarded with advertising for Christmas! Seems that Thanksgiving gets less attention each year. And BBB Serving Metro Atlanta, Athens & Northeast Georgia knows that’s exactly what retailers want because the Christmas season is their busiest time of the year. Long before the traditional “Back Friday” and “Cyber Monday,”  consumers will see ads for lay-a-way and pre-holiday sales. We know you have a lot on your mind, trying to determine what gifts to buy, especially for those “hard to give” folks, but here’s some tips you need to know prior to doing any holiday shopping that can save you time and most importantly, your money!

Georgia Law:

Consumers should know that in the state of Georgia, companies are allowed to establish their own policies regarding refunds, exchanges and store credits. In many firms, no such policies exist. No company is required by law to allow a customer the right to return or exchange merchandise no matter when it was purchased. The only exceptions to this rule are items that are misrepresented or defective. The laws in all states require a store to make good in such cases.

Current regulations do not require a store to post policies or put the information on the receipt. Therefore, it is your responsibility to find out each store’s policies regarding refunds/exchanges/store credits before making a purchase. Remember, policies for refunds and exchanges are voluntarily adopted to provide better customer service and not because a store is required by law.

BBB offers the following tips to make your holiday shopping a little less stressful:

  1. Save the receipt! Even if the store does not have a return policy, this information may be needed for warranty repair or to verify payment.
  2. Find out each store’s policy regarding refunds/exchanges/store credits before making a purchase. Do not assume you have the right to return items just because it is not posted or no one has said otherwise.
  3. If refunds or exchanges are allowed, find out the following:
  • Is there a specific time period in which items may be returned?
  • Must the item(s) be in the original packaging?
  • Will there be a restocking fee if you change your mind?
  • Can you return the item to another location of the store (this is especially important if the gift recipient is out of state).
  • Will the store give money back or will you be required to make an exchange or receive a store credit?

Don’t get caught “holding the gift” after a purchase. Be a smart shopper. Know your rights and each store’s policies before making a purchase. Understand it is your responsibility to determine a store’s policies regarding refunds and your right to shop elsewhere if a particular store’s policies don’t fit your needs. Before doing business with any company, check out their report at

And, companies, please don’t be a Scrooge! Post your policies so your customers can clearly see them.   A happy customer is a “return” customer!

To find companies you can trust, please visit our BBB Accredited Business Directory.

Information from the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection:

MYTH – A store has to give me a refund if I request one.

FACT:   Georgia does not have any law that requires a business to provide a refund or accept returns.   A business may set its own return policy and may offer consumers cash, in-store credit, exchanges or no adjustment at all.   Many stores also set time limits during which they accept returns.   While not required to post their policies, businesses must honor any posted refund or return policy.

Layaway Offers Good Holiday Shopping Alternative

Piggy bank with santa hat
Save money with layaway

Layaway May Be Your Answer For Christmas Shopping

Already doing your Christmas shopping?  You’re not alone.  But many of us don’t have the money to pay for all of our gifts now.  The alternative – layaway.

Early holiday shopping is a smart way to prepare for the season, and what better way to do that than using layaway plans. Layaway plans are a good idea, especially for customers who want to buy products without paying the full amount upfront and do not want to use a credit card. Many retail companies are now advertising layaway opportunities for their customers to help them plan for their holiday shopping.

Once considered a dated, old-fashioned method of payment, layaway services are back in a big way, with many businesses now shaking the dust off their layaway programs for today’s beleaguered consumers. Buying items on layaway is different from putting them on a credit card because the buyer isn’t charged interest on the purchase and can’t take the item home until it is paid off.

When purchasing items on layaway, the buyer must typically make a down payment of 10 to 20 percent and pay any service or plan fees for the store to hold the item for them. The customer then has typically 30 to 90 days to make periodic payments to pay off the balance. Once it is paid off, the customer can take the items home.

Layaway services can be a great alternative to the using a credit card. However, it’s extremely important that customers take note of the fine print and know what to expect.

Holiday shopping online

Some online merchants offer layaway plans too.

Online Layaway:

Layaway purchase plans are not limited to brick-and-mortar retail outlets; some online merchants use them, as well. Some layaway sites operate like a combination shopping search engine and online shopping mart: The companies have hundreds of merchants and online retailers selling name brand items.

First, you select a product. Then, you pay: some sites require electronic debiting from your checking account; others require that you pay by check or money order through postal mail. Still others allow you to pay with credit or debit cards, or use online payment services. Once you’ve paid the balance, the online layaway service pays the merchant, and the merchant sends you the product.

When buying items on layaway, BBB advises consumers to get everything in writing and offers the following checklist of questions to ask:

• How much time do I have to pay off the item?
• When are the payments due?
• How much do I have to put down?
• Are there any storage or service plan fees?
• What happens if I miss a payment? Are there penalties? Does the item return to inventory?
• Can I get a refund or store credit if I no longer want the item after making a few payments?
• What happens if the item goes on sale after I’ve put it on layaway?
• Does the retailer or third-party layaway service have a good BBB rating?

Clearly understand the risks of layaway.  Remember companies are holding merchandise for you that could be sold to other consumers.  If you miss payments or do not fulfill the obligations agreed upon when the items were put into layaway, then you risk losing your money, the items and your holiday spirit!

One Last Thing:  Let’s remember to support our Small Businesses. Besides national chains such as Walmart and Toys ‘R’ Us, don’t overlook your local retailers that might offer layaway plans too. If you decide to shop locally, it doesn’t hurt to ask if they, too, have layaway plans. Some stores will even work with you on establishing payment plans if they don’t already have a layaway plan in effect.

For companies you can trust please visit

Christmas with the Southern Crescent Chorale

2014 Southern Crescent Chorale Christmas poster
Southern Crescent Chorale Header

Southern Crescent Chorale Christmas Concert on Dec. 7th

Christmas with the Southern Crescent Chorale has become a treasured holiday tradition for the community. Sponsored by Bruce Dickerson of Edward Jones Investments, this year’s concert will again be a treat for the whole family. Our special guests will be the Rising Starr Middle School Chorus under the direction of Christy ToddThe concert will be held on Sunday, Dec. 7 at 3:00 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Peachtree City (206 Willow Bend Road).

 The sixty-eight voice choir will perform many holiday favorites accompanied by a full professional orchestra. Favorite Christmas carols and secular pieces you will hear include “Hark the Herald”, “O Holy Night”, “Silent Night”, “Joy to the World”, and “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.

Advanced tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors (60 and over). Tickets will also be sold at the door ($20.00). Purchase tickets from any Chorale member, at the Fayetteville Library, online, or at the door.

For more information: or 770-716-1231

2014 Southern Crescent Chorale Christmas poster

2014 Christmas with the Southern Crescent Chorale to be December 7.

Annual Chair-ity Event Preparations Begin

Chair-ity Event volunteers and artists
Chair-ity Event volunteers and artists

Some of the 8th Annual Chair-ity Event volunteers and artists met to discuss the upcoming fundraiser to be held Dec. 4th at The Dolce in Peachtree City.

Some of the 8th Annual Chair-ity Event  volunteers and artists met at the home of Heidi Becker in Fayetteville to discuss the upcoming fundraiser.  The event will be held Dec. 4th at The Dolce in Peachtree City.  

The event will feature delicious hors d’oeuvres, refreshments, and a silent auction where you can shop for that special someone on your holiday list. It’s an elegant evening of networking in a winter wonderland themed ballroom.

The impressive silent auction will include airline tickets, trips, jewelry and many other items donated by local businesses. Artists and the kids living in the cottages at The Children’s Village are hand crafting unique, one of a kind painted chairs which will be the highlight of the auction.

Hosted by community leaders, this signature event benefits the abandoned and abused children living in the cottages at The Children’s Village at Christian City. For more information and to purchase tickets visit or contact Ashley Bonner at 770-703-2636

Pictured above from L to R: Carla Waters, Janet McGregor Dunn, Elizabeth Lawrence, Yvonne Martin, Debi Lenox, Ashley Bonner, Vicki Turner, Pamela Greene, Anna Marie Hendry, Heidi Becker

Master Gardeners Seek Donations for Veterans Memorial

Veterans Memorial
Veterans Memorial

Veterans Memorial Patriot Park Fayetteville, GA

The Fayette County Master Gardeners are seeking donations to finish the Fayette County Veterans Memorial in Fayetteville’s Patriot Park. The funds will be used to construct plant beds with soil amendments as well as to purchase and plant trees, shrubs, flowers, and sod. Additional signage is also needed to bring an educational element to the garden. Work is scheduled to begin in early December.

The Veterans Memorial was built by the City of Fayetteville with donations from local individuals and corporations to honor Fayette County citizens who gave their lives in all wars. Councilman Larry Dell spearheaded construction of the monument, and it was dedicated on November 9, 2013. The Public Works is now responsible for maintenance. An irrigation contractor has committed to installing a sprinkler system which will allow the planting portion of the project to continue.

The Master Gardeners estimate that about $7000 is needed to complete the project. Tax deductible donations can be sent to the Fayette County Master Gardener Association (or FMGA) at P.O. Box 142532, Fayetteville, GA 30214. For more information about the project, please call 770-305-5412.

Veterans Memorial in Patriots Park

Plan for Veterans Memorial in Fayetteville, GA

Tour of homes benefits Fayette Humane Society

Christmas Tour of Homes benefits Fayette Humane Society.
Christmas Tour of Homes benefits Fayette Humane Society.

Christmas Tour of Homes benefits Fayette Humane Society.

Harry Norman Realtors will present the inaugural Fayette Humane Society Christmas Tour of Homes on Sunday, Dec, 7, 2014 from 1 to 5 p.m., showcasing five homes in Fayette County. Homes to be showcased are located in Interlochen, Saranac Park, Maple Shade, The Estates and North Cove subdivisions.

Tickets will go on sale Oct. 1 at a cost of $25 and will be available at the Harry Norman Realtor office, 120 Peachtree East Shopping Center in Peachtree City, Ga. All proceeds will go to provide food, shelter and medical attention for the animals.

Leah Thomson, fundraising chairman, could not be more excited about this event and the willingness of the community to get involved.

“I have received so much positive response to this event,” Leah said. “It is a win/win situation for our area and all the animals that need our help.”

Each of these homes will be decorated by local professional decorators and local musicians will provide music in each home and local restaurants will display their food and products.

“The decorators we have on board are enthusiastic and fabulous at what they do, and can’t wait to get started,” Leah said. “Ticket holders will be very pleased with the local businesses that are involved, and we are very fortunate to have so many talented local musicians in our area that have stepped up to provide us with some wonderful music.”

For more information on the event visit the Fayette Humane Society’s website at, the Fayette Humane Socitety Christmas Tour of Homes Facebook page, or stop by the office of Harry Norman Realtors.


The Fayette Humane Society is the oldest humane society in the area and last year alone provided assistance to over 600 dogs and cats, either through adoption or through various spay and neuter programs. With your help in supporting fundraising events such as this, we will continue to do so.

Front Porch Players brings Oklahoma! to local stage

Joanna Griffin plays Laurey Williams alongside Jack Allison as Curley McLain in The Front Porch Players production of the perennial classic "Oklahoma!"
Jakson Mulhall (Will Parker), Brian Walsh (Ali Hakim), Alison Chambers (Ado Annie) rehearse for the Front Porch Players upcoming production of "Oklahoma!"

Jakson Mulhall (Will Parker), Brian Walsh (Ali Hakim), Alison Chambers (Ado Annie) rehearse for the Front Porch Players upcoming production of “Oklahoma!”

The Front Porch Players stage will come alive on September 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, & 14 with some hootin’ and a hollerin’ as they proudly present the perennial classic, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!. Featuring a 23-person cast and crew comprised of residents from Henry, Clayton, Gwinnett, Fulton, Fayette, and even Floyd Counties, the production will take place at the Family Center of the First Presbyterian Church of Jonesboro. The cast includes former Fayette Woman cover Alison Chambers.

Based on the 1931 play Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs, Oklahoma! was the first collaboration of Rodgers & Hammerstein and contains some of their best-known music, such as “Oh, What A Beautiful Morning”, “Surrey With the Fringe on the Top”, “I Cain’t Say No”, and of course, “Oklahoma!”.

Joanna Griffin plays Laurey Williams alongside Jack Allison as Curley McLain in The Front Porch Players production of the perennial classic "Oklahoma!"

Joanna Griffin plays Laurey Williams alongside Jack Allison as Curley McLain in The Front Porch Players production of the perennial classic “Oklahoma!”

Set against the backdrop of the Oklahoma Territory at the turn of the century, the musical tells the story of cowboy Curly McLain (Jack Allison) and farmgirl Laurey Williams (Joanna Griffin) and the pride that keeps them apart, childhood sweethearts not-so-bright Will Parker (Jakson Mulhall of Tyrone) and Ado Annie (Peachtree City’s Alison Chambers) who has recently blossomed and is enjoying all of the new attention , and rough farmhand Jud Fry (Gary Wofford of McDonough) who is obsessed with Laurey and willing to do anything to get her. Fayetteville’s Barbara Zellner is the feisty Aunt Eller.

Karen Ferrell-White brings her expertise to the role of director of this large production, and the musical direction is in the capable hands of Lucy Stembridge.

What has been called “the best musical of the 20th Century” opened on Broadway in 1943 and ran for an unprecedented 2,212 performances. It won a special Pulitzer Prize in 1944, and the 1955 film adaptation won an Academy Award.

Playwright Thomas Hischak once noted, “Not only is Oklahoma! the most important of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, it is also the single most influential work in the American musical theatre. It is the first fully integrated musical play and its blending of song, character, plot, and even dance would serve as the model for Broadway shows for decades.”

Curtain is at 8:00 PM for Friday and Saturday night performances and 2:30 PM for Sunday matinees. Ticket prices are as follows: Reserved seating is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors (55+), $10 for children, and general admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $8 for children. To purchase tickets, for directions, or for more information, please visit: or call (770) 897-1404.

The Front Porch Players will present "Okhlahoma!" Sept. 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, and 14 at the Family Center at First Presbyterian Church of Jonesboro.

The Front Porch Players will present “Okhlahoma!” Sept. 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, and 14 at the Family Center at First Presbyterian Church of Jonesboro. Pictured, front row, from left, are Brian Walsh, Barbara Zellner, Joe Wiley, and Gary Wofford. Back row, from left, are Alison Chambers, Jakson Mulhall, Candace Todd, Jack Allison, and Joanna Griffin.

Mother’s Chocolate Pie

chocolate pie

Mother's Chocolate Pie
My mother, Lucille Leming, is a great Southern cook and is especially known for the yummy desserts she brings to our family gatherings. When I think about my favorite recipe that she prepares, it would have to be her Chocolate Pie. Her grandsons, Brian and Craig, and the great-grandsons would probably agree to that choice!
  • 2¼ cups milk
  • 2½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 5 eggs
  • ½ stick butter
  • Vanilla
  1. Bake a pie crust and let it cool. Separate the eggs and save the whites for the meringue.
  2. In a large microwaveable bowl combine milk, sugar, cocoa, flour, and egg yolks.
  3. Microwave for a total of 6 to 8 minutes in 2 minute increments. After each 2 minutes of
  4. microwaving, stir the filling well. The pie filling should be thick and creamy.
  5. Add butter and vanilla and stir well.
  6. Pour into cooked pie shell.
  7. Top with meringue topping below.

  • 5 egg whites
  • 10 Tbsp. of sugar
  • ⅛ tsp. of Cream of Tartar per each egg white
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla
  1. Beat, medium speed, till soft peaks form.
  2. Gradually add Cream of Tartar and vanilla.
  3. Beat at high speed till stiff, glossy peaks form.
  4. Immediately spread over Mother's Chocolate Pie to edge of pastry.
  5. Bake at 350º until peaks of meringue begin to lightly brown.


Carrot Cake

carrot cake

This recipe was a favorite of Vicki Turner’s maternal  Aunt Geraldine. Carrot cake has been a tradition for more than 30 years in her family for the Christmas holidays.

Carrot Cake
This recipe was a favorite of my mom's sister (Aunt Geraldine). Carrot cake has been a tradition for more than 30 years in my family for the Christmas holidays. Sometimes Mom and I would bake together but most of the time I baked.
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cups canola oil
  • ¼ cup crushed pineapple
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 4 eggs
  1. Mix together, pour into two 9-inch pans and bake for 30 minutes at 350º.

Carrot Cake Icing
  • 8 oz. package of cream cheese
  • ¾ stick of butter
  • tsp. vanilla
  • cup chopped nuts
  1. Cream together. Spread over cool layers.

Fayette County: Homes needed for kittens & puppies!

Meet Bo, a male kitten looking for his forever home.

Kitten season is still in full swing.  Fayette Humane Society (FHS), a 501(3)(c) nonprofit animal rescue group, is overwhelmed with requests from the community to take unwanted or stray cats, kittens, dogs, and puppies.

Meet Bo, a male kitten looking for his forever home.

FHS does not have a shelter, although a building fund has been started. The rescued pets live with foster families until volunteers can find them permanent, loving homes. When FHS lack foster space, callers are told we can only help them place the animals if they are willing to foster them.

Even if you can’t make the commitment to adopt a pet right now, consider becoming a temporary foster. FHS will provide food, supplies, and medical care for the animals; you provide the love.

For more information about becoming a pet foster parent or to adopt a pet, please visit our website at To sign up, call 770-487-1073 or email us at

Protecting Your Vehicle from Summer Theft


Protecting Your Vehicle from Summer Theft: Security Experts Offer “Rules of the Road”

Choosing a road trip over air travel this summer may seem like a smart way to save money on the high cost of airfare. However, families who take this route may be putting themselves in a position for an even costlier risk: having their car and its parts stolen or irreparably damaged.  A June 2013 report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) showed an upward trend in motor vehicle theft for the first time in eight years. (
According to the NICB, July and August are the two most common months for motor vehicle theft. And with nearly two-thirds of Americans planning a road trip this summer according to AAA, security experts caution road travelers to take extra precautions to avoid becoming a target for thieves – thieves who are capitalizing on increased gas prices and the high street value of car parts.

“Wherever your car is parked – whether at a hotel, in a gas station parking lot, or even in your own home – you need to take precautions, especially during warmer weather,” advises Mark McClure, owner of the Signal 88 Security franchise serving Atlanta. “Leaving your windows cracked, even slightly, can be an invitation for theft.”

Signal 88 Security, Inc., a private security company with more than 100 franchise offices across  more than 30 states, offers three key suggestions that can help car owners avoid being victimized during the summer months.

Step One: Identify Possible Threats “There are a variety of items that are attractive to thieves: electronics, gas, metal and even the car itself,” says McClure. “Take a look at your car and note if any of the above are easily accessible.”  If you drive a high-profile vehicle, you’re especially at risk of catalytic convertor theft. In many cases, the platinum inside the part can be sold for scrap. Company fleet vehicles and other cars that are parked for extended time periods are also prime targets.

Step Two: Secure Your Vehicle Always roll up your windows and lock your doors, and activate your security alarm if you have one. If you drive an older model car, consider adding a locking gas cap to prevent siphoning. Watch for gas dripping from the bottom of your vehicle; if a hole has been drilled in the tank, there is a risk of fire should you start the car.
Whether at home or away on vacation, park in a well-lit area, and consider installing motion-sensitive lights around your residence.

Step Three: Keep a Watchful Eye If you will be out of town and your car will be sitting out, ask your neighbors to keep an eye out for suspicious activity. If you live in an apartment complex, notify the management. Contact law enforcement if you see suspicious activity around your residence. “I remind our officers that any pedestrian traffic after dark should be treated with in-depth observation. People walking in groups or less populated parts of a property can be a cause for concern,” says McClure.

While nothing is foolproof, providing barriers to entry such as these makes it more difficult for thieves to target your vehicle, increasing the chance that they will give up and move on to an easier target.

“Vehicle-related crimes threaten our sense of personal security, but taking a few simple precautions can minimize the impact. Creating awareness is key,” says McClure.
For additional information about Signal 88 Security, visit

Senior Workshop: Get Fresh! With Farm-Fresh Eating


Piedmont Fayette Hospital’s Sixty Plus Services and Fayette Senior Services present

Get Fresh! Farm-fresh eating…it’s easy, fun and better for you!

Thursday, July 18

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (includes lunch)

Fayette Senior Services Life Enrichment Center

4 Center Drive, Fayetteville

The event is FREE. PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Seating is limited. Please call 770.461.0813 to register.

Whether it’s picking a tomato from your own garden or purchasing a basket of Georgia peaches from a local produce stand, there is a direct health benefit of eating fresh food. The “farm to table” local food movement is one current trend that is actually good for you! Our home-grown experts will introduce practical tips to make farm-fresh eating a part of a healthier lifestyle and ways to make the most out of seasonal produce. Learn all about the benefits of buying locally-grown food and why community gardens are such a great resource. From getting great nutritional advice to understanding what “super foods” are and why they are so good; the program includes a cooking demonstration and a fresh and delicious lunch!  Featured speakers: Tricia Stearns, executive director of Fresh South, Inc., Keith DeMars, director of nutrition and dining services, Piedmont Fayette Hospital and Lisa Stillman, RDLD.