Keep a close check on your budget before venturing forth to snap up those Black Friday bargains.
“With so many bargains around at this time of year, many people across Croydon may feel the pressure to part with their money,” says Claire Keetch, the chief exec of Citizens Advice Croydon.
“With the uncertainty that coronavirus has brought, it’s important that anyone thinking about turning to credit or taking out a loan to help pay for purchases understands the full costs involved and if they can actually afford to pay it back.”
Citizens Advice Consumer Service has seen the number of people seeking help about online shopping nearly double, with almost 125,000 online shopping-related issues raised so far this year, compared to 74,000 in the same period in 2019.
Citizens Advice Croydon experts share their top tips to help consumers stay safe online:
If you change your mind about a purchase
If you buy online, unless it’s bespoke, made to measure, or you’ve broken a digital or hygiene seal, by law you will get an automatic 14-day cooling-off period. This starts the day after you receive your order, and there doesn’t need to be anything wrong with the item for you to get a refund.
If you buy something in person, shops aren’t legally required to accept returns for unwanted goods. Despite this, the shop may choose to have its own returns policy. If it does, they must honour it, so it’s worth checking your receipt.
If you’re worried your purchase is faulty
If something’s gone wrong with an item you’ve bought, you may be entitled to a refund.
You’ll have legal rights if you unwittingly bought an item that is broken or damaged, unusable, not what was advertised or doesn’t match the seller’s description.
You will have to move quickly: if you’ve bought a faulty item, sellers must give you a refund if you return the item within 30 days. Your rights don’t end after 30 days, though after this period the retailer doesn’t necessarily have to refund you, instead they have the option of repairing or replacing the faulty product.
If you’re worried about scams
Be careful not to end up with a counterfeit item. Secure websites should start “https” and have a padlock symbol in the taskbar. Be wary of spelling or grammar mistakes, and companies that don’t provide an address.
Also seek out reviews of the seller from other buyers, as these can help you decide whether or not you trust the seller. If there is a lot of negative feedback from other people, it’s often a sign that something’s not right.
If you’re worried that something you’ve seen online might be a scam, you can get help from the Citizens Advice Scams Action service.
If there’s a problem with your Black Friday or Cyber Monday delivery
With more people buying online, so more people are experiencing delivery problems: 57 per cent of Londoners have had a parcel delivery problem since the first lockdown in March.
If you bought something to be delivered, it’s the seller’s responsibility to make sure the item is delivered to you. If the seller used a delivery company, they should chase the company to find out what’s happened to your order – it’s not your responsibility.
Check the delivery address you gave the seller. Then contact them and ask where your order is. Be careful in selecting safe places; if you nominate a safe place and the parcel is stolen you might have lost the right to a replacement.
Citizens Advice Croydon shares it’s top budgeting tips:
- Spend time shopping around, researching what deals are on offer and getting advice.
- Always look at the total amount you will have to repay when borrowing money. A shorter repayment period may be better than a slightly lower Annual Percentage Rate (APR) amount.
- Take care when looking at buy-now-pay-later deals. It might seem like a good option but you’ll need to make sure you pay on time in future. If you don’t these deals can be very expensive. Even if the deal is interest-free, you should still check that you’ll be able to pay it off in the time period, if not it could damage your credit rating.
- Never borrow money on the spur of the moment. Think about payment options beforehand. Work out your budget and stick to it so that you can afford the repayments.
Claire Keetch says, “If you are struggling with your finances, it may feel overwhelming but it’s best to do something about it as soon as possible. You can come to us at Citizens Advice Croydon to get free debt and money advice which can help you find a way forward and avoid spiralling debts.”
How to contact Citizens Advice Croydon:
Freephone Adviceline: 0800 144 8848 and Text Phone: 18001 0800 144 8884
Help to Claim Line (for Universal Credit) Freephone: 0800 144 8444
Or visit their website www.citizensadvicecroydon.org
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