30 November 2010
Christmas is near, so brush up on your consumer rights to help take some of the stress out of shopping during this busy time. Here are some tips:
- Keep all your receipts in case you need to return any purchases; the proof of purchase is normally required by the shop if you need to return goods for any reason.
- If anything you buy – from gifts to a new set of fairy lights – turns out to be faulty, you have the right to claim a repair, replacement or a refund. If an item is faulty, get the retailer you bought the goods from to sort the matter out, not the manufacturer. (This will become law in April 2011, when the Consumer Protection Act is implemented. But it is also good customer service, so demand it.)
- For expensive gifts – say, more than R500 – consider using a credit card. This way, should problems arise, you may get extra protection from your credit card company.
- If you do use a credit card, though, remember that you will be charged interest if you do not pay off the balance in full each month. So budget to pay off your credit card by the middle of January.
- It is great to support street traders or flea market merchants by buying presents there, but remember they may not be around if you find a problem with your purchase.
- If you are going to shop on the internet, order in plenty of time and double check with the provider that the delivery date will be before Christmas. When buying on-line, you may want to use a credit card to give yourself extra protection.
- When buying toys for small kids, always look for suitable age warnings and safety marks on the packaging. Also remember that younger brothers and sisters may get their hands on these toys, so avoid items with dangerous or small parts (which could be a choking hazard).
- Beware of cheap imitations. You risk buying low quality or even potentially unsafe products.
- Finally, always remember that if you simply change your mind about a purchase, the retailer is not obliged to offer you a refund or an exchange. Many offer a replacement or credit note as a gesture of goodwill, but this is not a legal requirement.