13 false economies exposed & 13 ways to not fall foul!

false economiesMany if not all of us love a bargain and frequently purchase something that we think is saving us money. Now that Christmas is well and truly over and new year’s resolutions well and truly broken let’s look back at some of our false economies and how we think we are saving money, how we are not and what we can do about them!

False economies

1) The most common has got to be Gym membership! People set this up on a direct debit, especially in January! All good intentions and visits dwindle and it would be cheaper to stop the DD and pay on the times you go.

2) Similarly, people take advantage of many online opening offers such as subscriptions to magazines, email services etc. with a significant discount such as £1 for first month and then £25 for each month after and even if they cancel the DD after this month they have lost the £25 if they don’t want to keep the service.

3) Buying yearly membership cards which give you discounts on items throughout the year but you use it twice when you get it and then forget about it so the outlay was too much.

4) Impulse buying for anything that you then don’t use

5) Supermarket deals – discounts on bulk buying and having to throw away what you don’t use

6) Not complaining and gaining redress when you buy a faulty item and buying a new one

7) Only getting one estimate for services such as building works. An estimate is exactly that and the trader could then say that the job cost more. See this post for avoiding problems with builders.

8) Not switching energy suppliers on a regular basis means, that without doubt you are losing money.

9) Not reading terms and conditions in contracts such as notice periods or fees for early termination or not be aware of your legal rights around unfair contracts

10) ‘phoning customer service numbers and holding for a long time! If this is a number that costs (helplines must be free)

11) Ordering online and not checking the postage costs.

12) False economy bargains. Frequently the more expensive t shirt last twice as long as the cheap one or the more expensive batteries last three times as long as the cheaper ones

13) Sales. Buying something that is a bargain. It really is because the reduction is so huge but you never ever use it/wear it

Tips for not falling foul of the above

1) Think carefully about taking out memberships such as the gym. Work out how many times you have to go a week to make it worthwhile and keep that as a reminder on your calendar that if you haven’t gone that many times that week you are at a loss and should think about cancelling and remember to read the terms and conditions as to how much notice you have to give

2) Keep a note of when direct debits are due and cancel them when you realise you aren’t using the service

3) Work out the value of membership cards. So, for example, a Tastecard – look at what restaurants are covered, how often you have been to them in the last year and how much you are likely to save.

4) Keep an eye out for trials for things like membership cards, Restaurant offer cards for example often have three month trials for £1 but remember to cancel the direct debit if you find that you don’t use it. Remember if you have hardly used it in the three months you are even less likely to use it as time goes by.

5) Work out deals in supermarkets. Is it really cheaper to buy the big bag of apples and waste some than buying them loose. Look out for the annoyances!

6) Ensure that you know your legal rights. If an item is not as described, not fit for purpose or doesn’t last a reasonable length of time, you can insist on repair, replacement or refund under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 from the 1st October and Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 for purchases before then. (See Tips for complaining and How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! for all you need to know about your rights and how to complain effectively.

7)  Get 3 quotes, a quote is was what you should pay unless additions are agreed along the way.

8) Use a variety of switching websites to ensure that you have the cheapest deal and also any other offers that are different on different websites. The importance of doing that here.

9) Read terms and conditions of contracts and factor in any early termination fees or notice periods if you are likely to change supplier early

10) Unless you need something immediately rectifying, don’t ‘phone, write which also gives you a good record and should you need to follow up, you have an email trail and don’t need to repeat yourself on the ‘phone when you have to go through it all again!

11) Check the total and any extras before you click the “buy now” button but worth noting that it is now illegal for companies to add pre ticked boxes for additional payments

12)  Bargains – stop to think before you buy them (and I should listen to my own advice!!) For example, look at the price of the batteries, if the more expensive are twice the price they should last twice as long. With things like batteries which you may go through a lot, you can do your own testing at home as to how long they last. Keep a check on items that you buy and replace and make a note of how long they last and whether bargains really are a bargain.

13) Stop to think if you really will use/wear the discounted item. (Again need to listen to my own advice, I love a bargain!) When going to shop in the sales try and make a list of the things that you would really like/need and try and stick to these. That should help keep you foccused on spending time looking for what you want so you are less distracted by other things. Also if the shop has more than one of the item you can risk walking out and spending time thinking about whether you want to go back and get it.

Got any more false economies and how not to fall foul? 

12 Top Tips of Christmas Sales!

12 Top Tips of Christmas Sales!

Out to the sales? Are you really buying a bargain? What can you do if you change your mind? What if the item is faulty? Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow blogger and author of How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results shares her 12 top tips for ensuring you know your rights when shopping in the sales.

Budget carefully
1) Have a price in mind for the amount(s) you are prepared to spend on an individual or total items. It is easy to get carried away especially in store as retailers put out items to entice you to spend more and that’s when you are most likely to buy things you don’t want or need! Keep an eye on your list of items and prices!

Make a list
2) Start a list of things you want and/or would consider buying and add to it as you think of things. Have a list of likely stockists and current prices. Use comparison websites to find these. This preparation will stand you in good stead even if you hit the stores as well as shopping online.

Change of mind
3) Under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, consumers have 14 days cooling off period for changing their minds when buying something not on the retailer’s premises. There are some exceptions to this such as bespoke items. Check the terms and conditions for returns though as you may have to pay return postage if the item is not in breach of the CRA.

4) You are not entitled to a refund if you simply change your mind when purchasing items in stores although many of the larger retailers will refund or exchange.

Price matching
5) Remember that some stores have a price promise but this doesn’t always mean online as well, it could be just in store. For example, John Lewis will not price match online only retailers or mail order companies. But price promises should include items in a sale in another store.

Know your rights
6) Under the Consumer Rights Act (CRA) 2015, the item must be of satisfactory quality, match the description be fit for purpose and last a reasonable length of time.

7) You have 30 days to return for a full refund, after this time you may have to accept an exchange or repair. This is the same for goods in sales unless the fault was pointed out a point of purchase. So for example if a kettle was marked down because it had a mark on it you couldn’t ask for a refund, if however, it has a mark and it doesn’t work you can!

8) These rights also apply to digital goods although the 30 day rule does not apply to non tangible digital goods such as downloads.

Spread your risk
9) Sometimes shopping early will get you some fantastic deals, but as some stores start, other companies may follow suit and match price or reduce prices further so there is no ideal time to buy! Give it a week and what you’ve just bought will either be sold out or reduced further! So spread the risk and buy some things now and wait until later for others.

Delivery
10) Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 goods must be delivered within the time frame agreed with the seller. If one hasn’t been agreed (you have agreed a time frame if the listing supplies a time frame) the trader must deliver ‘without undue delay’ and at the very latest not more than 30 days from the day after the contract is made. After this time you are entitled to a full refund.

11) You are entitled to any out of pocket expenses if the company don’t turn up when they say they will, such as recompense for time taken off work.

12) Your contract is always with the retailer to whom you gave the money. It is NOT the courier unless you have paid your money directly to the courier. Always insist on redress from the retailer company, IT can get the money back from the courier!

Press Release: Consumer Champion brings light to Black Friday

BFBlack Friday started in America in the early 2000s, found its way over here through Amazon and is now everywhere. However, last year saw near riots in some British supermarkets as people fought over items that they often felt later they didn’t even want or need!

So how can you ensure that you don’t get sucked in to things just because of the discount and be stuck with it, or make sure that you do get the best discount on what you do actually want? Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow, blogger and author of the bestseller How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! has some tips.

1) Make a list
Start a list of things you want and/or would consider buying and add to it as you think of things. Have a list of likely stockists and current prices. Use comparison websites to find these. Then do it again on Black Friday and find out if anyone has it in the Black Friday deal. Remember that some stores may be cheaper than another’s Black Friday deal. This preparation will stand you in good stead when you come to shop when the day comes as it will be quicker to go through stores.

2) A promise is a promise?
Remember that some stores have a price promise but this doesn’t always mean online as well, it could be just in store. For example, John Lewis will not price match online only retailers or mail order companies.

3) Not just one day
Don’t look for bargains just on Black Friday, many retailers are spreading their deals and have been running them throughout November such as Amazon.

4) Know your rights
Under the Consumer Rights Act (CRA) 2015, the item must be of satisfactory quality, match the description be fit for purpose and last a reasonable length of time. This is the same for goods in sales, flash or otherwise.

5) Get a gift receipt
Under the CRA, you have 30 days to get a refund if the item is in breach of the Act after this time the retailer can insist on repair or replacement but you have up to 6 years to claim if considered reasonable. So if the item is for a gift, get a gift receipt or let the recipient know that you have the receipt should anything go wrong.

6) You can change your mind online
You are not entitled to a refund if you simply change your mind so buy wisely! However, when buying off premises (such as online) you have 14 days from when you receive the item(s) in which to change your mind under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013. Check the terms and conditions for returns though as you may have to pay return postage if the item is not in breach of the CRA.

7) Spread your risk
Sometimes shopping early will get you some fantastic deals, but as some stores start, other companies may follow suit and match price or reduce prices further so there is no ideal time to buy!

8) Budget carefully
Have a price in mind for the amount(s) you are prepared to spend on an individual or total items. It is easy to get carried away especially in store as retailers put out items to entice you to spend more and that’s when you are most likely to buy things you don’t want or need! Keep an eye on your list of items and prices!

9) Cyber Monday follows Black Friday
Don’t forget Cyber Monday! There will be more bargains to be had. Also remember that bargains won’t stop after this time, in fact as retailers reassess sales there will be many reductions on a wider variety of goods over a longer period of time.

10) Watch out for extras
Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 retailers are not allowed to charge you for items they put in your online shopping basket or that you have bought as a result of a pre-ticked box. It is still happening, so keep an eye out for this and report them when and if you see it!

The top 10 tips for winning in the sales

So, Christmas nearly upon on us and Boxing Day sales start. Making sure you know how to get the best deals, use your time wisely and knowing what to do when things go wrong will all help you grab the best bargains.

1) Plan what you want. Make a list of things you would quite like to buy. Don’t fall foul of the pack mentality that we saw on Black Friday. People fighting to grab the “bargains” and then saying “I didn’t even want a telly”.  It is not a bargain if you don’t really want it.

2) Make a list of the various stores you are likely to find those bargains. If you are going out to shop work out the best route to do to save you the most time and allows you to return to shops which you think you are most likely to want to return back having seen other stores.

3) Do your online research. Using your list, look up all the stores likely to have sales, mooch around the sites making a note of things that you would like if they were in the sale. Even put them in your basket so they are in there ready before other people if you intend to start at 12.00am on Boxing Day!

4) Think about next Christmas and presents that you will need to buy. Things like jewellery, toys, games and toiletries are always discounted everywhere and don’t have a best before date!

5) When shopping online use your list of items and compare prices. Just because it is discounted it does not mean that it is the best price. Use comparison websites too, or simply put the item into Google and see all the places the item is also sold.

6) When purchasing items online you now have 14 days in which you can change your mind and return the item under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013  if the item is faulty the retailer has to pay for return postage. If you just change your mind then it will be down to the retailer’s Terms and Conditions which will be listed on the website.

7) Watch out for delivery costs. These might make the items less of a bargain compared with another site. Some of the bigger more well known stores will offer free delivery for orders over a certain amount. Simply order something else to reach the free delivery amount, such as a gift you can put away or something you know you will need in the future and bingo, free delivery. Or use the “free delivery to store” option, you’ll still get to the bargains in time but should have a few days grace in which to pick up the item(s).

8) Whether purchasing items in the sale or not, if you return an item because you changed your mind or it is an unwanted gift then the retailer does not need to refund the item. (Many of the bigger retailers will, however usually by voucher and at the cheapest price the item has been sold at). However if the item is faulty, unless the fault was pointed out at point of purchase (e.g. this jumper is discounted because of a mark on the sleeve) then you are entitled to refund, replacement or repair. See here for more details.

9) You do not need to have a receipt but you do need a proof of purchase so a credit card bill for example is fine if you are returning goods.

10) If the retailer does not keep to delivery deadlines then you are entitled to redress.

Good luck in your bargain hunting and don’t be fobbed off when complaining! Lots of tips around the blog and of course in the book!

PS Don’t forget to use a cashback site when shopping online. The best I have found is Topcashback. To be transparent – that is a link that is mine and if you register from that I will get £5 or something when you have earned your first £10. Don’t forget when you register to get your own “Tell a friend link” to share with others.

 

 

 

 

Shopping Yesterday

What cheesed me off?

Nothing enough to actually write a letter of complaint to anyone but after 3 hours at the Lakeside outlet here is my little list

1) M & S didn’t have a coat discounted from £68 to £14  in my size
2) Home and Sense in Romford had a vase, I went to get it at Lakeside they didn’t have it
3) Next didn’t have my size (I’m a 10/12!) in hardly anything I liked in their outlet
4) Boots only had self service checkouts going, really hate them!
Then here comes the one that will have irritated many of you I’m sure..
5) Long queue at Asda outlet. THREE people all standing on the shop floor doing nothing but watching the queue and talking to each other. They weren’t helping any customers because they were all in the queue.
Oh and another common irritant;
6) Discount price cards tagged through t shirts. Cut it off and there’s not one but 2 holes. Idiotic.

Now, you could say that there isn’t anything stores can do about the above. But there is actually. You know what sizes go first, make more of them! Have an order in service from other stores in the chain. Put at least one member of staff on a checkout, we know you are saving money but actually it’s easy to go somewhere else when just buying snacks so it backfires. Manage staff properly and encourage them to use their initiative such dealing with long queues and staff not doing anything! Have a written procedure for attaching cards to clothes! You’d think it was common sense but the ridiculous amount of times it happens it just supports my belief that common sense is a skill and a difficult one to teach at that. Encourage them to use their initiative! See here for more tips!

Got some bargains though so can’t complain too much….

But should you need to email the CEOs of the above here they are:

Contact Marks and Spencer CEO
Contact Asda CEO
Contact Next CEO
Contact Boots CEO and
Contact Home Sense