Cheap at half the price?
A word of advice on sales
1 June 2012
Another holiday, another sale… We all love the idea of a bargain, and retailers know it: “Weekend only deals”; “Sizzling hot savings”; “60% off everything in-store”. It's enough to make you cancel the trip to the in-laws' and head straight for the shops. But what if once you get there the promised bargains are few and far between?
Under the Fair Trading Act, retailers aren’t allowed to make misleading claims to get you in the store. If the advert says: “Up to 60% off”, there must be a reasonable amount of items at 60 per cent off the normal retail price. By the same token, “60% off everything” means absolutely everything in the store.
The normal retail price must be what the store normally charges. A store can’t raise its prices before the sale and then quickly lower them, making you think that you’re getting a special when the goods are what they’d usually cost. Nor can they claim the discount is more than it really is if they haven’t charged the full price for several months.
You can keep retailers honest by taking their sales flyers with you to the store’s sale. Compare what is advertised with what is available. If you’ve rushed there, early, on the opening day of a sale to find the advertised item you had your eye on has sold out, don’t be shy about asking for a ‘raincheck’. This means you get the item for the sale price once it comes back into stock. And, if you think a retailer is breaching the Fair Trading Act, tell them. They may be prepared to give you a remedy there and then.
Sales can be fun and a great time to buy much-needed (or coveted) items. Just bear the following in mind to be savvy as you splurge:
- Remember to shop around. Clever promotions can make us feel pressured to buy. That laptop may seem like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but you may find it for even less in another store.
- Choose carefully. Is that sequinned top really a good investment - even if it is half price? Many stores won’t let you return goods because you’ve simply changed your mind. So, it’s a good idea to check the retailer’s terms and conditions before you part with your cash.