BARGAIN hunters are being warned to know their rights to avoid disappointment while Christmas shopping and during the January sales.

Essex County Council’s trading standards team has compiled a list of useful tips to ensure shoppers are not disappointed by unwelcome surprises on sale items.

a list of useful tips for shoppers to ensure they are not disappointed by unwelcome surprises on sale items.

The list gives shoppers dos and don’ts covering everything from the law on returning faulty goods to how using a credit card can save the day on expensive items.

County council leader David Finch said: “Everyone loves a bargain but residents should know their rights before visiting their local high street or buying online to avoid disappointment.

“Being aware of the secrets of sales shopping can help avoid being stuck with unwanted or faulty items this Christmas and New Year.”

Top tips include: 

  • Always shop around to get the best price
  • Pricing should always be clear with the original price displayed along with the sale price •
  • A shop is not obliged to refund or exchange an item you picked up in the sales unless it has its own returns policy 
  • Shops often have sales throughout the year so do not feel pressured into buying items at Christmas or New Year’s 
  • Some retailers provide a “gift receipt” so that the item bought can be changed by you or someone else without the price being revealed 
  • If the goods you bought are faulty you have 30 days to return them under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 
  • Watch out for pop up shops that may have disappeared by the time you attempt to return any faulty or unwanted items 
  • If you buy goods over £100 consider using a credit card as you will get additional protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act
  • When buying online ensure that the locked padlock symbol is visible when paying and be wary of websites that ask for personal information and are not high street names
  • You have 14 days to change your mind if you have bought goods online but not if they have been made specifically for you

If you have any problems with goods or services you have bought you can seek advice from the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline, who handle calls for Trading Standards, by calling 03454 040506.