Consumers should shop smart and exercise responsibility

22/12/2009 10:54

Most family budgets are stretched very tight during the Christmas and New Year holiday. Christmas are celebrated with the giving and receiving of gifts which in fact should not result in a situation where consumers continue to pay debt for the entire next year? Council is urging consumers to exercise caution and common sense. Consumers need to practice prudence in shopping and avoid wastage as right after the festivities is back to school and people need to save money for their children’s education which is more important.

Consumers must plan to ensure one does shopping within a realistic budget. This can be done if a consumer makes a list for loved ones for whom the gifts will be purchased. Then put a budgeted amount that he/she would like to spend besides each name.  This will give a consumer an idea of how much he/she need to come up with to buy all of the gifts for Christmas. Sometimes making a list is easy but following is hard which results in impulse buying.  When buying your children’s gifts consumers need to know that they don’t have to buy everything on the wish list provided by the child. Let children save from their pocket money to buy what they want during the year.

Similarly don’t do food shopping without a list. Impulse purchases and exceeding your budget must be avoided. Christmas spending does not have to cause you to completely empty your wallet if you go closely by your budget. It is usually seen that in the midst of celebration consumers buy a lot of extravagant gifts which are not really necessary.

The Council further reiterates on the importance of exercising consumer responsibility when out for Christmas shopping. Consumers are reminded to collect receipts of all their purchases and seek prior information and knowledge of the product they intend to buy. In particular, when buying presents, consumers should ask about the ‘exchange or refund policy’ from the trader.

Moreover, consumers intending to purchase items using the hire purchase method are advised to be especially careful about the terms and conditions of the hire purchase agreement. Some shops are known to entice consumers with zero or low deposits on hire purchase items and hence, consumers will need to make smart decisions about their intended purchase. 

The Council has a bagful of advice to dish out to consumers this festive season. However, it will only pick on the most important one, which is, BE A SMART AND RESPONSIBLE SHOPPER. The word ‘responsibility’ encompasses the following:

  • Budgeting and spending wisely;
  • Exercising your right to seek information on your purchase;
  • Examining a product carefully before purchasing it;
  • Scrutinising a service carefully before using it;
  • Doing comparison shopping on products, services offered and their prices; 
  • Not allowing yourself to be enticed with free gifts, zero deposits or interest holiday, especially when purchasing expensive items and items on hire purchase;
  • Collecting receipts for every purchase or service rendered;
  • Being aware of your rights when you shop for a product or service.

The Council is also aware of some traders who are luring consumers through bait advertisement while others are selling expired, damaged and sub-standard products to consumers. The Council will not hesitate to report any unfair trading to the enforcement agencies or alert consumers through other means. 

The Consumer Council office will be open to assist consumers with their complaints, concerns or provide advice this festive season.