Media Release: Holiday shopping
Businesses are scrambling for your business this festive season and chances are you'll be taking advantage of the pre and post-Christmas sales. But before pulling out the plastic, Consumer NZ has some tips for hassle-free shopping.
Hot deal fine print
* "Buy now pay later" deals can look very attractive but one day you'll need to start paying. Look for hidden fees that could sting you: late payment fees, annual fees, establishment fees and more.
* Check out the interest rate you'll pay if you don't pay it off within the interest-free period. These deals often have higher interest rates than bank credit cards. Make a note in your diary when your interest-free period ends.
* Compare the purchase price with other stores. Your savings from a long interest-free period could be wiped out by paying too much in the first place.
* Gift vouchers aren't the same as cash so shops don't have to give you change if you choose goods less than the voucher's value.
* Gift vouchers may have an expiry date. If they do the trader has no obligation to honour it after this date.
* Unused vouchers are probably useless if the trader goes bust. But if this happens get yourself listed with the receiver - you may get something.
* You often can't exchange sale goods. But if the product is faulty you still have rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act.
* Retailers don't have to exchange gifts or refund money if you change your mind, unless the goods are faulty or includes a money-back-guarantee. If you think the person you're buying for may wish to exchange their present, ask for an exchange card.
* Keep all receipts, dockets, credit card slips and invoices as proof of purchase. They will avoid any argument about where the goods were purchased or what price was paid for them.
* If products are faulty, don't match their description, or they're not fit for purpose, take them back to the retailer for a refund or repair. You can opt for an exchange instead of a refund.
* As with any contract, it's useful to have a written note of your agreement, signed by you and the retailer. Get a receipt after each payment.
* You can cancel a layby anytime before you make the final payment, but the store can deduct "selling costs" and "loss of value".
* If your retailer goes into receivership, contact the receiver, whose name and address will probably be on a sign on the shop door. If your goods are still there you can usually continue with the agreed payment schedule.
Appliance buying tips
* Arm yourself with knowledge before you shop. Visit consumer.org.nz for product recommendations, reliability data and checklists.
* Shop around for the best price. Retailers should be keen for a sale so see what deals they're prepared to offer. Expect a discount for cash.
* Don't buy an extended warranty. In most cases you'll be paying for protection you already have under the Consumer Guarantees Act.
* Keep a paper trail. Print out the details of the item on the day you order it.
* Check who you're dealing with. Only buy from sites that include adequate address and contact details - phone, fax, email and street address (not just a PO Box number). If you're buying from an overseas company you may not have the same legal protections as in New Zealand.
* Keep your credit card details safe. In particular make sure the site has a secure checkout. If it doesn't have a secure checkout, never email your credit card details to a merchant.
For test results, buying advice and more information about your legal rights visit: www.consumer.org.nz.