Shoppers looking to bag a bargain ahead of Christmas are being urged to get to know their rights and avoid being ripped off or scammed.
Staffordshire County Council’s trading standards service is reminding people to be aware of their consumer rights before they shop, particularly online.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are on 26 and 29 November respectively and are expected to be amongst the busiest shopping days of the year.
However, according to Trading Standards, it’s also a busy time for criminals, counterfeiters and scammers, so people are being reminded to be alert.
Officers are keen to remind shoppers about the latest consumer rights. These include laws to allow people to obtain a full refund on faulty goods within 30 days of purchase, an ability to challenge unfair terms and conditions and to demand poor services are redone or that there is a price reduction.
Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council’s, said: “We all love a bargain, especially in the run up to Christmas but it’s really important that we are aware of our consumer rights, especially when shopping online.
“Unfortunately, criminals and scammers are also very active at this time of year too so it’s important to be alert. Following some simple rules can keep you safe. Make sure websites are genuine, watch out for scam emails, don’t click on links and don’t be embarrassed to hang up, say no, or ask someone to leave if you get any unsolicited approaches. And, remember, your bank will never call you and ask for your PIN number or for you to give your card to a courier.”
Officers are reminding shoppers that:
You are still protected by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 when buying items in the sale. So items must be as described and be of satisfactory quality.
Due to the Christmas period, many stores offer an extended returns policy until January 31st, for items bought from the beginning of November. Be sure to check with the retailer before making this assumption. Rules will often be printed on your receipt.
If an item's faulty, by law the buyer can get a refund whether bought in-store or online.
If bought online, by phone or mail order, most items can be returned and refunded if done quickly, no matter what the reason.
If bought in a store, unless faulty you've no extra rights in law. However, stores are usually more generous and will give you 30 days to return any item and up to one year to return faulty goods.
Exchanges are often available if there is no receipt but the item usually requires the tag/sticker from the retailer. You can only exchange items for something of the same price. Some retailers may offer giftcards for the value of the item where an exchange cannot be made, but this is not guaranteed.
People who encounter problems with shopping online should visit Citizens Advice on www.citizensadvice.org.uk or telephone Citizens Advice consumer helpline: 03454 04 05 06.