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Protect Your Rights As A Christmas Consumer

Christmas is fast approaching and the organised amongst us are already eyeing up presents for friends and families. The Citizens Advice Bureau has an important message for consumers - keep receipts of all Christmas purchases and protect your rights as a consumer.

The country's 91 bureaux staffed by a volunteer workforce of 2,700 know from long experience that consumers often end up without any comeback when they buy goods that either break soon after purchase or don't suit and need to be returned.

"While retailers aren't required by law to exchange or refund a product, many will do so if asked and a receipt is presented. If you are really worried about the suitability of the gift, make sure you discuss this with the retailer when you buy it and get them to write on the receipt that it can be exchanged or refunded if required," said Nick Toonen, Chief Executive Officer of the New Zealand Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux.

"The other area of shopping that people need to be careful about is mail orders. There are a number of pitfalls that should be avoided."

Problems people encounter when doing mail-order shopping are:

* Not receiving goods that have been paid for. * Long delays in receiving the goods. * Difficulties in getting refunds for unsatisfactory goods or goods not received. * Problems in getting complaints dealt with.

The following checklist can help avoid these problems:

* Check whether the goods can be bought locally at a similar price and buy it that way if possible. * Check out the extra costs associated with mail-order purchases eg postage, insurance. * Make sure you have all the important information: full details of the product, a money back guarantee, delivery time etc. Ask for these things if they're not provided. * Check whether the company you are ordering from is a member of the Direct Marketing Association. * Keep copies of any correspondence, including your original order. Double-check your name and address correctly before sending your order off. * Check everything the moment it's received. If there is anything wrong, contact the supplier immediately. If it's not what you ordered return it for a refund or exchange.

If you need help or advice with consumer issues, or any other problem, you can contact your local CAB by looking under 'C' in the phonebook or dialling freephone 0800 FOR CAB (0800 367 222).


For further information contact Nick Toonen, Chief Executive Officer, 04 382 8759 (wk), 021 294 9722.

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