It’s August, so you must be thinking about Christmas, right? As early as it may seem, retailers are already targeting Christmas shoppers, and the Office of Fair Trading is matching the marketing hype with some advice to ensure a happy festive season.
According to Fair Trading Acting Executive Director Sharon Simmers, some of the big retailers had already kicked off their ‘lay-by for Christmas’ promotions alongside much-hyped sales in a race to lock in Christmas shoppers.
“Like hot cross buns in January, many may scoff, but enough consumers will sign up to make it worthwhile to retailers, which is why we’re already seeing these promotions,” Ms Simmers said.
“However, it’s important to note not all sales are created equal, and there are a few simple things people can do to avoid buyer remorse.
“The best two tips I can give to people looking to start their Christmas shopping now are to shop around to ensure you really are getting a great deal, and to pay attention to the terms and conditions of any agreements you sign.
“Plenty of retailers market their sales as ‘huge’ and ‘blockbuster’ but that doesn’t mean it’s the best price on the market.
“A simple internet search can help you compare prices between stores to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
“When signing up to a ‘lay-by for Christmas’ deal, ensure you check how often you must make payments, if there is a minimum amount you must pay each time, whether you must have made full payment by a certain date, and when you must collect your goods.”
Ms Simmers said the Australian Consumer Law had some built-in protections for consumers when it came to lay-bys.
“If you cancel a lay-by agreement, the trader must refund your money, less any reasonable termination fee that was stipulated in the lay-by agreement,” she said.
“A trader can only cancel a lay-by agreement if you break one of the terms of your lay-by agreement, if they close down, or if the goods are no longer available. With the latter two, you are entitled to a full refund.”