Holiday season spend-ups can sometimes lead to rushed buying decisions you end up regretting. Here are our tips to avoid being stuck with a bad deal.
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If you’re buying gift cards, check whether the card has an expiry date and where it can be used. We’ve been campaigning for retailers to ditch stingy expiry dates on their gift cards. You can always give cash instead to avoid your “gift” expiring before the recipient can use it.
Don’t fall for “sale” prices that aren’t really saving you any money. Do your homework before heading into the fray so you can pick the real bargains from the marketing. Retailers don’t have to take goods back if your only problem is a case of buyer’s remorse.
Extended warranties are a nice little earner for retailers. But you’re probably paying for protection you already have under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). The act says manufacturers and retailers must guarantee their products are of acceptable quality. Most appliances should perform well for many years, not just the period covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.
If the new gadget you’re eyeing up is out of your budget, the retailer may be quick to offer you credit with an interest-free period thrown in. But interest-free doesn’t mean cost-free. Credit deals typically have establishment fees – the price you pay to set up the deal. Other charges may apply as well, including fees if you miss a payment.
With old-fashioned lay-by, you put down a deposit and pay off the item in instalments. The trader keeps the item until full payment is made. If you change your mind, you can cancel the deal and get a refund (minus a cancellation fee if this was set out in the contract).
However, there are other services that look like lay-by but aren’t. With Laybuy, Afterpay and PartPay, you get the goods straight away, then make regular payments until the item’s paid off. However, these services aren’t covered by lay-by laws and you don’t have the same rights to cancel the deal if you change your mind. Penalty fees also apply if you don’t keep up with payments.
Retailers can’t get out of their CGA responsibilities just by putting up a sign claiming they’ve got no liability. Signs such as “no cash refunds, please choose carefully”, “no returns on sale items” and “no returns on goods outside of warranty” are misleading. The same applies if the claim is buried in their terms and conditions; if a product isn’t of acceptable quality, they have to put things right.