With the run-up to Christmas, and the January sales thereafter, we find ourselves approaching the most intense annual period of consumer spending. For many this is the best time of the year, but also the most expensive. With the rapidly rising cost of living it is more important than ever for consumers to look for the best deals and to get value for money.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is therefore offering shopping tips to help consumers become acquainted with their rights and to minimise disappointments over the festive period. These are based on common complaints received by the OFT.
the ofts shopping tips
Shop around for best prices & get acquainted with refund and return policies
Look around for the best price before you buy. This may sound obvious, however consumers too often assume that prices for the same item will be the same everywhere. In fact, they may vary significantly from shop to shop, even if they are part of the same group.
If you find something you have bought for a better price elsewhere you do not automatically have the right in law to return it. This depends on the business’s return and refund policy, if any. Retailers refund and return policies can differ significantly from store to store so make sure you check whether refunds, exchanges or credit notes are available before you buy.
Refunds are obligatory however where goods sold do not honour your consumer rights (see below).
Know your rights
Any goods that you buy, whether in store or online, must:
• match the description given,
• be of satisfactory quality; and
• be fit for purpose.
If they do not meet any of the above criteria you may be entitled to refunds, repairs or replacements. Generally, if goods are faulty within 30 days from purchase, consumers can reject the goods and claim for a full refund. There is a useful flowchart in the schedule of the Code of conduct for Retailers of Goods (see below) that can assist you in determining the type of redress you may be entitled to.
Keep your receipts
You will need proof of purchase if you wish to return your goods or make a claim against a retailer. It is strongly recommend therefore that you keep your receipts. If receipts are not available you may be able to use a relevant bank and credit card statements, however this is not guaranteed.
Gift receipts & Gift vouchers
Ask for a gift receipt when buying goods for your loved ones. This will enable the recipient to exercise their rights to return the goods or make a claim against the retailer if something is wrong without revealing the price of the item.
Gift vouchers are a popular present, however you need to be aware of the terms and conditions of each voucher, often found in small print. If a voucher has an expiry date this information should be communicated to you in advance. Make sure you tell your loved one once they receive it too.
Do your online shopping with plenty of time
By law retailers have up to 30 days to deliver goods unless otherwise agreed, so it’s worth doing your online shopping early to ensure your goods arrive in time for Christmas.
If receiving the goods before Christmas is essential, make sure this is guaranteed by the retailer.
Consumers have additional protection when shopping online. In most cases consumers will have a 14 day cancellation period, from delivery, to change their mind and get a full refund, including the basic delivery charges.
Act promptly if something is wrong
Check your purchases at the store before buying or as soon as you receive them if they have been delivered. If something is wrong, you will need to act promptly if you wish to exercise your statutory right to reject the goods and claim a full refund.
Refer to the flowchart in the schedule of the Code of conduct for Retailers of Goods (see below) that can assist you in determining the redress you may be entitled to depending on when issues are raised after purchase.
Remember you have exactly the same rights on sale items as you do on full price goods. If a reduction is offered as a result of a fault that is pointed out to you however you will not be able to make a claim for this fault later.
New Code of conduct for Retailers of Goods
A new code was issued by the OFT for the retail sector in March 2022. Although the document is primarily designed to educate retailers, consumers can also rely on it to understand the standards expected from local traders. The Code can be found in the ‘Documents’ section of the OFT’s website: www.oft.gov.gi
We are here to help
The OFT’s Consumer Protection Team hope that you will find this article useful and that it will help you avoid any unfortunate surprises during this period. You can find more information and guidance in the ‘Consumer Protection’ section of the OFT’s website and by following the OFT on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Should you nevertheless encounter any problems or have doubts about your consumer rights please contact reach out to the OFT’s Consumer Protection Team:
Tel: 20071700 / WhatsApp: 56002998