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Consumer & Business Advice
Media releases
10 December 2014

Consumers are advised to be savvy this festive season, whether they are shopping online or in stores.

Business Services and Consumers Minister Gail Gago said it can be easy to become complacent about the possibility of online scams or to overlook when a store inadvertently overcharges for a purchase.

“While laws exist to protect consumers, it is also our responsibility to be aware and diligent in our own purchases,” Ms Gago said.

She urged shoppers to double-check what they are paying for in stores, as Christmas is a busy time for retailers with many consumers out to find a bargain.

Last week, 15 major department stores across the state received a surprise visit from Consumer and Business Services inspectors who checked on refund, layby and warranty issues.

“Inspectors conducted price scanning audits of 375 items; only three scanned at an incorrect price.

“The issues were rectified immediately on request by the officer and all three traders will be issued with a written warning. A follow-up will be conducted in our next round of monitoring.

“Regardless of whether an item is full price or on sale, under the law, consumers are entitled to the repair, replacement or refund of an item if it is faulty or does not perform as advertised.

“However, consumers are not necessarily entitled to a refund if they simply change their mind as this will depend on the policy of the retailer.

“Shoppers should make sure they are aware of the retailer’s change of mind policy before making a significant purchase.

“Most of all, trust your instincts because if a deal sounds too good to be true it probably is,” Ms Gago said.

She also advised online shoppers to on the lookout for security risks.

“Most of us are quite comfortable with online shopping and treat it as a normal everyday task, so it can be easy to forget scammers are also out there looking to make a quick buck by ripping us off,” he said.

“A few simple tips can help you stay one step ahead of the crooks and keep you safe while shopping online.

“Only buy from secure websites with an address that starts with ‘https’ and displays an image of a closed padlock in the corner of the internet browser.

“These are indicators that you are protected from fraud and unauthorised credit card transactions, so don’t make a payment unless you can see both.
 
Other tips for shopping online include:

•    check the website’s privacy policy to ensure any personal details provided will not be disclosed to third parties
•    read the terms and conditions, refund policy and delivery details before you make a purchase
•    be aware of extra costs like taxes, delivery fees, packaging and postage
•    review and confirm  your order before paying
•    keep records of reference numbers and print receipts
•    ensure all charges are correct by checking the receipt against your credit card or bank statement
•    make sure that electrical items (including toys) meet Australian safety standards Consumers are warned to use greater care when dealing with overseas sellers or websites.
“Our consumer rights protect us if something goes wrong with a purchase, but those rights can be hard to enforce with businesses based overseas,” Ms Gago said.

For more information on your rights when shopping this Christmas visit the website www.cbs.sa.gov.au or the CBS YouTube channel to watch tips for smart online shopping.