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  • The Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) is urging Christmas shoppers to now their rights and practise proper budgeting and good money management, as they make their purchases.
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the CAC, Dolsie Allen, emphasises 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.”
  • 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.”

The Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) is urging Christmas shoppers to now their rights and 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, emphasises 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 advises.

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 recommends that persons give a family gift, instead of trying to buy individual gifts. “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 or your neighbour’s,” the CEO points out.

Mrs. Allen discourages impulse buying and stresses the need for persons to ensure that they get value for their money.

“Ask the relevant questions when you go shopping…ask about refund policy, warranties and ensure that you get your receipts,” Mrs. Allen emphasises.

She also stresses 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 points out.

Receipts, Mrs. Allen says, 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 notes further, should have certain basic requirements, including the name of the store, the amount paid, date of purchase and description of goods purchased.

On the matter of refunds and the return of items, Mrs. Allen advises 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 says, 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 advises 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 urges.

“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 points out.

She also reminds persons to get a warranty for all appliances, read all labels carefully and as much as possible, to test appliances before leaving the store.

In terms of eliminating the after Christmas depression, Mrs. Allen advises 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 shopping 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 906-5425, toll-free 1-888-991-4470; visit the website at www.cac.gov.jm or facebook page at www.facebook.com/cac.gov.jm.

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