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Top Tips for Trouble-Free Christmas Shopping

With less than two weeks to go before Christmas Day, Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards Service has some timely advice to help Warwickshire’s Christmas Shoppers.

Every year the Trading Standards’ phone lines are lit up like Christmas trees with people seeking advice on their rights.

Typical problems include:
· Toys found to be faulty when opened on Christmas day.
· Items found cheaper at another shop after a purchase has been made.
· Toys that come apart when first used.
· Items not delivered in time for Christmas.
· Shops refusing to give refunds or exchange items which were unsuitable.

In many cases consumers can take some simple steps to avoid these problems. Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards Service has issued the following advice to reduce the risk of Christmas purchases going wrong.

Here are our ‘HAPPY CHRISTMAS’ Tips

Have a budget and stick to it to avoid unpleasant shocks in the New Year. If you using a credit or store card, know how much you are paying for credit and what the APR is.

Avoid unnecessary arguments when shopping by remembering these simple rules:

· Shops do not have to give you a refund or exchange if you change your mind, unless agreed in advance.

· Shops do not have to give a refund or exchange if the items you have bought do not fit, unless agreed in advance.

Pricing mistakes do happen and the shop can refuse the sale if there is a pricing error.

Purchases should be checked before wrapping them and any problems or faults reported immediately.

You should shop around before you buy to ensure you get the best price.

Counterfeit goods should be avoided. They can be unsafe, faulty or just poor quality. Main brand goods are not normally distributed through car boot sales. To buy genuine known brand goods we advise you to buy at reputable and established retailers.

Have your proof of age card with you. This will avoid embarrassing refusals in shops if you look younger than you are when buying age restricted products such as alcohol and liqueurs.

Remember to keep the proof of purchase e.g. receipt in case you need to return an item.

If you are buying on the Internet make sure you print off and keep a copy of your order details. Check that the company you are buying from is in the UK for legal protections to apply. Use your credit card for purchases over £100 you have another chance of redress if things go wrong.

Second-hand items should be checked thoroughly. Check for signs of visible damage and to make sure all parts are included. Check whether there are relevant instructions. If you are buying privately you will not necessarily have a right to your money back if the goods are faulty so inspect them thoroughly.

Toys should be purchased from reputable established businesses.

Make sure toys have a CE mark. Also check for age suitability labelling and try to examine the product before purchase to ensure that it is suitably robust.

Avoid identity fraud by keeping credit card slips and debit card receipts safe. A shredder could make an ideal Christmas present!

Specify a ‘must have by’ date if you are ordering goods for delivery by Christmas. This will enable you to cancel the order and get your money back to buy something else if the company is unable to fulfil the order. Do not just rely on a ‘normal delivery time’.

For round the clock advice, shoppers can visit our website at http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards