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5 Things you Need to Know when Shopping

Saturday 15 March is Consumer Rights Day. The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) clearly lays out your rights as a shopper. But remember, you have certain responsibilities too, says consumer goods and services ombudsman Advocate Neville Melville.

1. Check prices


If the price shown on the item or shelf doesn’t match the price you’re charged at the till, by law the supplier is bound by the lowest price displayed, unless it is an obvious error or it has been tampered with. ‘It’s the consumer’s responsibility to first check with a shelf packer if you are unsure of the price and to check the till slip to ensure you’ve not been overcharged,’ adds Melville. ‘You are within your rights to ask for the lower price.’


2. Keep an eye on your contracts


It’s easy to forget about renewing your security-services or cellphone contract, but it’s important to read all correspondence sent from a supplier and give notice in time if you don’t want the contract to continue. ‘Suppliers must inform you that a fixed-term agreement is about to end and will roll over onto a month-by-month basis with or without new terms,’ says Melville. ‘Make sure you aren’t being charged extra for services or additions you don’t really need.’


3. Beware of grey goods


You may be willing to pay less for reconditioned or ‘grey’ goods (imported without the authority of the manufacturer), but then you need to accept the increased risk of defects and that there’s no manufacturer’s warranty cover.


4. Check the sales-record or till-slip details


Under the CPA, suppliers must provide a sales record or till slip containing a comprehensive list of details. ‘Check the correctness of these details and keep it in a safe place,’ says Melville. ‘The sales record is your copy of the agreement and proof of purchase.’ You will also need it to return goods, get a refund or ask for defective goods to be repaired.


5. Ask for identification


All delivery, repairs or installation employees must wear a badge or provide identification under the CPA. ‘Insist that callers or people coming to your premises show you their official badge or identification card,’ suggests Melville. ‘Also take note of the person’s name for record-keeping purposes and if you need to complain or compliment later on.’


For more info call the Consumer Goods and Services Ombud’s share-call helpline on 0860 000 272.


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