Christmas is coming – the shopping event of the year. But buying presents isn’t without pitfalls. Here’s our guide to savvy Christmas shopping.
To get the most robust level of consumer protection and to save money, buy your presents on a credit card. If you pick the right credit card you can get your shopping interest free, which will also be useful in the sales. And if you get a card with rewards or cash back, you can treat yourself in the New Year.
Shopping on a credit card doesn’t just make financial sense, it also provides invaluable legal protection. Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if you are buying goods or services costing between £100 and £30,000 you are covered if the supplier goes out of business or your items don’t arrive. This isn’t the case if you buy on a debit card.
Shoppers in the UK are lucky to have the law on their side if there’s a problem with their purchases. Under the Sale of Goods Act, any item must be of satisfactory quality; fit for the purpose it’s meant to fulfil and be as described on the package. If it doesn’t meet these criteria then under the Act you have the right to repair, replacement or refund.
You will need a receipt or other proof of purchase if returning an item to a shop, so make sure you get a gift receipt without the price on it and wrap it up with the present. However, if when you get home you decide you’ve made a mistake and you’ve not bought the right gift, then the shop is not obliged to take the item back. Most reputable high street shops will take unwanted items back if you have a receipt but they’re not obliged to do so.
These days Santa often delivers via the internet rather than down the chimney. Online shopping has its own rules and risks – worth considering when buying Christmas presents. Buying on the internet is covered by Distance Selling regulations, allowing seven working days to cancel your order if buying online, by phone or mail order. There are exceptions if you’re buying personalised or perishable items, newspapers, magazines, CDs, DVDs or computer software where the security seal is broken. Watch out if you’re shopping at online auction sites as you don’t have the same level of protection: you are usually buying from a private seller not a company.
Buying gifts for friends and relatives abroad can be costly to post, but an option could be to send the money in the post, but not with bank notes. If sending money abroad, you can compare money transfer deals at http://www.fxcompared.com, a site set up by the government. If you’re buying gift tokens, remember that some do expire so make sure your recipient knows this.
If you’ve bought a lot of gifts, make sure your household insurance covers them. Many policies increase cover during the Christmas period, or have no upper limit. It’s sensible and take precautions, keeping your home secure and items out of public view so you don’t give burglars an early Christmas present.