JIS News

As the yuletide season nears, the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), is encouraging shoppers to learn and exercise their rights, and to practise proper budgeting and good money management, as they make their purchases.
Highlighting shopping tips at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the CAC, Dolsie Allen, emphasised the need for consumers to “be more knowledgeable, discriminating and vigilant,” when making purchases, and “to prepare and adhere to a budget when going shopping.”
“We (the consumers) have to do some planning…we cannot take things for granted, we have to separate our wants from our needs and bear in mind how much money there is to spend,” Mrs. Allen advised.
She added that consumers should not budget for a bonus or an extra income from relatives abroad, but should “think about your basic income and take away all your expenditure that you would normally have to consider for the month. Do not budget tips also as part of your regular income, as you are not sure you will be getting that,” the CEO warned.
Mrs. Allen pointed out that after all this is done, consumers could then decide on what, and how much they would have to spend for the Christmas period.
As it relates to the purchasing of gifts, she stressed the importance of “making a list, shopping around and finding out where you can get the best prices and deals.”
She recommended that persons give a family gift, instead of trying to buy individual gifts. “You could give gifts from the home – maybe a framed picture of events from last Christmas can be given as a gift, instead of purchasing something. You could also offer your services – baby-sit, clean an elderly person’s home, your neighbour, relative or a church member,” the CEO pointed out. She further advised that consumers have to exercise creativity and find means of spending less on gifts.
“We need to ensure that we do not do impulse buying, and when we buy, we get value for our money. Ask the relevant questions when you go shopping.ask about refund policy, warranties and ensure that you get your receipts,” Mrs. Allen emphasised.
She also stressed the need for consumers to demand receipts from vendors. “Very often, especially at this time of the year, persons are so busy that they do not write receipts, or they offer bargains where discounts are given, but no receipts are provided,” she pointed out.
Receipts, Mrs. Allen said, are proof that an item was purchased and the provision of receipts is also critical if a consumer needs to seek redress.
The receipt, she noted further, should have certain basic requirements, including the amount paid, date of purchase and description of goods purchased.
In the case of refunds and the return of items, Mrs. Allen advised consumers to be vigilant and find out the policy of stores, as it relates to returning an item. “Look out for the illegal ‘no refund, no exchange’ signs,” she said, noting that there are provisions under the Consumer Protection Act, “which allow you to take back items and be refunded, in the event that something goes wrong.”
Turning to hire purchase arrangements, which are common at this time of the year, Mrs. Allen advised shoppers to “take time out to read and understand the terms and condition of the contract, before signing.”
“These documents are normally very long with fine prints and not very friendly to read, but we ask you to take the time out to read, ask relevant questions and get clarification on areas that you do not understand,” she urged.
“It is your right as a consumer and we encourage you to exercise that right. Know exactly what you are getting into before you sign that document, as once you sign, you are held or become obliged to adhere to the terms and conditions in the contract,” she said.
In terms of eliminating the after-Christmas depression, Mrs. Allen advised consumers to “bear in mind that come January, there are the bills to be paid, back-to-school expenses and other realities that we have to face, so be sure that you budget properly to deal with all these things.”
The CAC recommends the following Christmas tips:. Take advantage of discount stores for novelty, funny gifts.. Be creative – it is time consuming, but less expensive.. Ensure that products purchased are of a superior quality, that a warranty is supplied in writing and insist that the delivery date agreed on is adhered to, or seek redress immediately.. Be aware of offers of no down payment, no GCT, and other store promotions, which require you to forfeit some rights, in order to win or to be eligible for a free gift.. Be wary of store promotions, where you are required to leave your receipt in a box. Your receipt is needed in the event that you have to prove ownership of the item, if you later request an exchange, refund or repair of the item or service.
For further details and guidelines, contact the CAC at 978-4998 / 927-4518 or visit the agency’s website at: www.consumeraffairsjamaica.gov.jm.

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