The weeks before Christmas Day are enjoyable for most consumers. However, this can also be a stressful period for many consumers. And, for some it can result in significant financial problems later.
To help consumers during the next few weeks, the Queensland Consumers Association has prepared the following tips for shoppers:
- Do some research, plan ahead, make a list, and shop around.
- Have a budget and stick to it.
- Spend only what you can really afford, not what you think or hope you can.
- Only go into debt if you know you can pay it off easily and quickly.
- Be wary of interest free offers, unless you know you can pay the debt off before any interest charges start.
- Before buying know the seller’s policy on exchanges, refunds, etc. – although some sellers have more generous policies, the law only requires the seller to refund, exchange or repair if the goods or services were faulty or unsafe, did not match the description, did not match the sample you were shown, or did not do the job you were led to believe it would.
- Keep receipts (as a back up take a photo) so you have proof of purchase if you need to contact the seller about anything.
- Understand the terms and conditions of any gift cards bought or received, especially any expiration period.
- Be cautious about paying for an extended warranty – if problems occur outside a product’s warranty period, you still have rights under the Australian Consumer Law.
- When shopping for groceries at supermarkets, use the unit price information ($ per 100g/kg/100mL/litre) to compare the value of package sizes, brands, other products, packaged and unpackaged items, and regular prices and special offers.
- The best gift for some people may be to spend quality time with them, not lots of money on them.The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s free App “ACCC Shopper” also provides useful information and tips.”The App also allows consumers to store photographs of receipts as proof of purchase, and to set reminders for when lay-buys are due and the expiry date for warranties and gift vouchers, on their smart phone or tablet.