Is it a bargain or not?
Many 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!
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, phone and insurance 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 false economies
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 supermarket annoyances making you spend more!
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.