Consumer Protection Christmas Shopping Tips

Friday, December 14, 2018 1:46 pm

The official Christmas shopping period has now begun for retailers. There are an additional 34 hours of trading for general retail shops in the Perth metropolitan area.

From Monday, December 17, shops can choose to open from 7 am on weekdays including Christmas Eve. Since December 9, shoppers have had an extra four hours each Sunday to do their Christmas shopping, with shops able to open at 8 am and close at 6 pm through to Sunday, December 30. Shops can open from 8 am to 6 pm on weekends, Boxing Day and the New Year’s Day public holidays (normally 11 am to 5 pm); larger shops will remain closed on Christmas Day.

Tips for buying gifts online:

 Online shopping is now a popular option, especially because many of us are time poor and prefer to shop from the comfort of our homes. We do however recommend that consumers take care to ensure that they actually get what they pay for.

  1. Don’t make any payment unless you’re on a secure website which means that you can make a secure payment. This will protect you against fraud and unauthorised credit card transactions.
  2. A secure website address will always begin with ‘https’, not ‘http’ and it will display the image of a closed padlock that you can hover over to show details of the site’s security certificate. Only make a payment if you can see both of these things.
  3. Never give out your bank account details, credit card number or other personal details if you are not certain that the business is a reputable trader.
  4. Make sure you read and understand the terms and conditions of sale, the refund policy, the delivery details, returns and repairs policies, and any associated costs such as currency conversion or delivery fees.
  5. Only buy from websites you know and trust. Check that the company has a physical street address and landline phone number. Beware of scams as we’ve had many instances of fake websites and there are also fake sellers who like to advertise on sites like Gumtree.

Is it better to buy local rather than from overseas?

If you purchase from overseas-based businesses, you may not be protected by the Australian Consumer Law with regard to your refund, repair or replacement rights. So if you want full protection on your purchases, consider buying local.

Those protections come in the form of a consumer guarantee that the gifts you buy will be free from defects, fit for their intended purpose, match the description in any advertising and are safe to use.

If you need to claim a refund, repair or replacement, you will need proof of purchase so the easiest way is to keep all receipts for the gifts you buy for others. You don’t need to keep the original packaging.

Returns based on wrong size, style or colour, will be at the store’s discretion and depend on their individual returns policy. The returns policy is in addition to – not instead of – your consumer guarantee rights!

Many post-Christmas complaints received by Consumer Protection relate to gifts bought online that don’t arrive on time, so check to ensure that they can guarantee delivery before Christmas Day. Buying local will increase your chances of an on-time delivery.

Remember goods purchased overseas must comply with Australian safety standards, particularly in relation to toys and electrical products. We’ve had many cases in the past of electrical products, such as power adaptors, coming into the country that can endanger lives and pose a fire risk to property.

And what are our consumer rights when it comes to warranties?

 Those consumer guarantees I mentioned earlier apply without the consumer paying any extra money for ‘extended warranties’ which are being sold in some cases as a way for the retailer to manage faulty products. So the guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law apply to all products acquired by consumers and are in addition to any written guarantee that may be issued by the manufacturer.

A warranty against defects is given by the manufacturer and is commonly known as a ‘manufacturer’s warranty’. It says when you are entitled to a repair, replacement, refund or something else if the product has defects.

If you have purchased a faulty product, then the retailer needs to provide you with the appropriate remedy rather than referring you to the manufacturer. If consumers do have any issues with a warranty matter, then they should contact us for advice.

And what about gift vouchers – what do we need to be aware of when buying these for family and friends?

Gift vouchers are a popular gift, especially when we aren’t quite sure what someone might like to receive or if we want to let them choose their own gift – but we recommend giving cash instead. Often the gift goes to the retailer instead of the recipient because many consumers fail to redeem their cards before they expire.

It’s estimated that retailers make hundreds of millions of dollars each year from unused gift cards. The new trend in gift cards is for longer expiry times, but it is important you check first and favour those that are not limited. If you do receive a gift card, then redeem it as soon as possible so it doesn’t end up in a drawer and forgotten. Also if the retailer closes down, then gift cards may not be honoured.

Receivers of gift cards should take note of the terms and conditions and the expiry date, and then set a reminder in their phone or via our free app for consumers, iShopWA.

What does the iShopWA app offer?

The app is a free download from both the Apple app store and Google Play. It means you have information on your consumer rights at your fingertips and can store photos of receipts. You can also use the app to set reminders for gift vouchers or online coupon expiry dates or pick-up dates for something on lay-by. The app also allows users to email photos of illegal ‘no refund’ shop signs directly to Consumer Protection for further action.

WA shoppers who wish to seek advice or complain about an issue with a retailer can contact Consumer Protection by phone on 1300 30 40 54, by email at consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au. More information is also available on our website at consumerprotection.wa.gov.au

 

 

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