12 Top Tips for shopping in the Christmas Sales!

12 Top Tips for shopping in the 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? With reports of profits down for retailers both on the High Street and online there will be some bargains to be had as they try and sell stock for anything they can get!

people carrying shopping bags from shoulders down

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. You have 14 days to notify them of the return and another 14 days to send.

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! See more on your rights shopping online.

coats in store

Who else wants to get back those bank charges?

Banks & building societies
Banks can charge you, should you go into the red. However it is worth complaining if you feel that it is unfair, for example if it was only for a couple of days and you transferred money as soon as you realised. I have done this a few times over the last 25 years. It has always worked. The only time it didn’t work first time was a couple of years ago and I then wrote to the CEO outlining my loyalty as a customer and I then got the money refunded.

moneyRemember that the bank does not have to give you this amount, I just feel the charges do not reflect anything like the extra administrative time the matter might take. The ease with which I have had the charge refunded in the past I believe shows that if you are seen to make the effort that will be acknowledged. My examples were all genuine mistakes where I had forgotten something leaving the account or, had miscalculated! Don’t be afraid to admit to making a mistake as this also goes a long way to a friendly customer services representative being understanding.

Banks don’t pay out refunds of charges as easily as they used to, but they are obliged to treat customers fairly so it is worth writing to complain. You can go back 6 years. Unlikely that you have the statements but you can look online at your account for information or you can request a list of transactions for the last 6 years. Don’t ask for statements as the bank could charge you £10 per statement!

If you are in financial hardship, complain about more than one unfair charge over the years and threaten to take the matter to the Financial Ombudsman it is quite possible that you will receive a goodwill gesture. All cases where the Financial Ombudsman thinks treatment has been unfair will be looked at and the service is free so it is worth going further.

Generally speaking if the charge exceeds the amount you are overdrawn or you get stuck in debt because of the cycle of continuous charges you could take the matter to the Financial Ombudsman.

In response to your complaint banks could:

Refund in full.

Refund in part. Banks should deal with your case sympathetically so if you feel that the offer is not fair, contact the bank again with an amount that you think is more appropriate and negotiate.

Ask you to fill out a form. The bank may want more information regarding your financial hardship. In this case fill out as fully as possible and return speedily as this shows that you are serious.

Require the refund be used to pay off debt. If it was just the one charge it is likely that the bank will just refund the amount into the account. However, if you are claiming for the past 6 years it may be a figure into hundreds of pounds. If your account is in debt you should accept this offer. However, if you have other debts such as utility bills or mortgage arrears incurring higher charges contact the bank and explain  the situation.

Reject but offer to help in other ways. The bank may accept that you are in financial difficulties but not offer to refund the charges, choosing to do something else such as not making charges for the following 6 months or offering a repayment plan. You could accept this offer, but if you are not happy then write again.

Reject out of hand. The bank may completely reject your request. Some banks may do this automatically for all claims as a matter of policy as many people will not pursue the matter. In this situation write again (I’d go to the CEO at this point) explaining your disappointment with the decision and threaten to take the matter to the Financial Ombudsman. If the claim is rejected again then proceed with the Financial Ombudsman. You have nothing to lose.

For more information and advice on complaining about financial institutions and others and template letters see How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!