Take back: Do not assume that everything can be returned to stores. *MCT photo
Take back: Do not assume that everything can be returned to stores. *MCT photo

Christmas is done and dusted, 2014 is here and it is time to look ahead. For those of you that subscribe to New Year’s resolutions, let’s hope that one of them is to learn as much as you can about your rights and responsibilities as a consumer and as a business operator.

Despite numerous articles, commercials, print ads, an expanded website and an increased presence on Facebook, we at Consumer Affairs still get calls about issues that we have highlighted throughout the year — issues that are common problems.

The good news, however, is that although we still get our fair share of complaints, more people are taking the time to educate themselves. Our website traffic has increased significantly which indicates that a lot of people are stepping up their game and are becoming informed.

If you haven’t visited our website please do and become a better consumer now, you may be surprised at how useful our information is.

Think about it, how consumer savvy are you? Well here are two bits of information that are particularly useful to everyone, especially now right after the Christmas holidays. 

Refunds and returns

Do not assume that everything can be returned — some items, especially seasonal goods or items that were on sale may not be returnable. 

Stores do not have to give a refund, except in cases where the product is faulty or defective.  

Under the Sale of Goods Act 1978 (as amended 2002), you are entitled to a full refund if the product you buy is defective.  

The store should not renege on a refund if you do not have the original packaging.

Gift cards

What can you do to avoid losing that wonderful gift card you received for Christmas or missing the expiration date? 

Use it as soon as possible. Do not put it away in a safe place or tuck it in the crevices of your wallet waiting for the perfect occasion to use it — go out and spend it this weekend. 

Treat gift cards and gift certificates like cash. If it is lost or stolen, report it to the issuer immediately. Some issuers will not replace the cards, while others will replace them for a fee, or you may be out the entire amount.

Please take the time to visit our website, www.ca.gov.bm and our facebook page, Consumer Affairs Bermuda, for more consumer savvy information and from all of us at Consumer Affairs, may you have a safe and happy 2014.

At Consumer Affairs, we offer advice to consumers, businesses and other organizations. Before contacting us we recommend that you first visit our web-site, www.ca.gov.bm and read the relevant advice. If you are unable to find the information you require on our web-site please email us at consumers@gov.bm

Honey Adams Bell is the education officer for Consumer Affairs.