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In honor of my Caught Dead in Wyoming mystery series, my assistant Kay Coyte is writing for my newsletter and blog a series of consumer tips inspired by TV reporter Elizabeth Danniher.

Summer’s almost here and it’s the season of sales – Memorial Day, graduation, Fourth of July. But wait, isn’t it always the season of sales? Do you tire of department or big-box store ads geared toward holidays or short-term sales?

Last year, Washington Consumers’ Checkbook researchers tracked prices of big-ticket items sold at major retailers for 10 months and found “disturbing pricing practices” at 17 of the 19 stores. In a report released in March, the consumer group discovered that many of the sale prices — even those that advertised big savings — were in place more than half the time. And at some stores, the “sales” never ended. Worst offenders? JC Penney, Kmart, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and Sears. On the better side of the scale, Staples and Target were listed as “sometimes misleading” and Bed Bath & Beyond and Costco as “reliably legitimate.”

In December 2016, the Los Angeles attorney’s office sued JC Penney, Sears, Kohl’s and Macy’s, alleging deceptive advertising that it says misled shoppers into believing that thousands of products were on sale at a hefty discount. I don’t know if these cases were settled, but JC Penney did issue credits to consumers in January 2017 in a similar class-action suit originally filed in 2012.

Consumer Tips often focus on fraud and scams, but wise shoppers also must be on guard for gimmicks and resist impulse buys. Don’t be afraid to shop around. I often start with the Shopping search on Google. And Consumers’ Checkbook suggests comparing prices with bots such as and Yahoo Shopping, Click here for more good advice.

Meanwhile, one more holiday to anticipate: National Department Store Day. Yes, it exists, on Oct. 16, according to the folks at National Day Calendar.