Emma Reid

Don't let your lay-by go bye-bye

WITH seventeen weeks until Christmas, the Office of Fair Trading is reminding shoppers who plan to lay-by Christmas gifts to read the terms and conditions carefully before signing on the dotted line.

Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said lay-by could be a great way for consumers to pay off gifts and manage their holiday budget, but it was essential to understand lay-by conditions before signing.

"It's not uncommon for there to be a spike in complaints in December from consumers who've entered into lay-bys around this time of year and subsequently want to cancel them,” Mr Bauer said.

"Consumers can cancel a lay-by for any reason, but the trader is able to charge a reasonable cancellation fee if it was stated in the lay-by agreement.

"So once you find the best deal for you, consider carefully whether what you are buying will still be on Santa's list in December.”

He said to make sure you now your rights and options in case you need to cancel a lay-by, such as if a child changes their mind about what they want for Christmas.

The OFT recommends the following for people planning to lay-by:

. Shop around and make sure you're happy with the price you're paying.

. Read the lay-by terms and conditions carefully. If you think there's a chance you may need to cancel a lay-by, check terms and conditions about exchanges, refunds and cancellation fees.

. Do your maths and make sure you can afford the lay-by repayments. Factor in the deposit and any fees.

. Set reminders in your phone, calendar or diary so you don't miss a lay-by payment.

. Remember your usual consumer rights still apply if a product purchased on lay-by is damaged or doesn't work.

For further information on consumer rights, visit www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or call 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

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