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Shop smart this silly season

Consumer NZ has 12 tips to help you through the pre-Christmas rush and the Boxing Day sales.

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  1. Not sure the present you’re buying is right? Ask for an exchange card so the recipient can change it for something else in store. No exchange card? Some stores may be willing to exchange the item in the interest of good customer service if you still have the receipt.

  2. Buying something electronic and asked if you want the extended warranty? In most cases we don’t think they’re worth it. That’s because the Consumer Guarantees Act means retailers have to repair or replace faulty goods or refund your money.

  3. Buying a gift card? Ask what the expiry date is. Short expiry dates mean the card can become worthless before the recipient can redeem it, making the card more of a gift to the retailer.

  4. If you receive a gift card, try to use it as soon as you can to avoid losing it. Ask the store for a grace period if you can’t use it before the expiry date.

  5. Bought something online that never showed up? Or maybe it did but was nothing like what had been described? If the retailer refuses to put things right, get on to your bank about a credit-card or debit-card chargeback. If your claim is accepted, you’ll be returned your money but an unsuccessful claim will cost between $5 and $10.

  6. Safety is the most important consideration when buying for kids. Watch out for parts a child could pull off and swallow. If a toy has button batteries, make sure the child can’t get to them and keep replacement batteries well out of reach.

  7. Check your receipts and bank statements. It’s a busy time of year and mistakes happen.

  8. Under the Consumer Guarantees Act, online retailers that arrange delivery have to ensure items arrive on time and in good condition. Under the Act, retailers have to put things right when an item arrives damaged, not the courier. If you have problems with an overseas trader, you can visit econsumer.gov for information about consumer rights in other countries.

  9. Know what you want to buy someone but not sure what model to get? At consumer.org.nz you can compare the test results for thousands of products.

  10. Making the most of the Boxing Day sales? Check you’re really getting a bargain. Browse the websites of similar retailers to make sure they’re not offering a better deal.

  11. Think hard before you buy a Boxing Day “bargain”. If you make a spontaneous decision then regret it, a retailer has no obligation to take back an item.

  12. But keep in mind, a retailer does have to put things right if the item you bought is defective – even if it was on sale. The only exception is if it clearly states the item is on sale because of that fault.

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