Most people enjoy the lead up to Christmas – shopping, decorating, cooking and the general preparation that is involved in the ‘most wonderful time of the year’.  

However, this can also be a very stressful period for many consumers especially those who are struggling financially.  

Here are 15 tips for consumers to help you this Christmas.



1. Create a realistic budget and stick to it. Do not plan to spend any money you do not have. 

2. Do not be afraid to be frugal and live beneath your means so that you can save some money over the holidays and not enter the New Year broke, in debt and unprepared for any unforeseen circumstances.

3. Do your research, plan ahead, make a list, and shop around.

4. Only use cash this year. However if you must charge, only go into debt if you know you can pay it off easily and quickly.

5. Before you purchase anything know the seller’s policy on exchanges, refunds, returns etc. – although some sellers have more generous policies, the law only requires the seller to refund, exchange or repair if the goods or services were faulty or unsafe, did not match the description, did not match the sample you were shown, or did not do the job you were led to believe it would.

6. Understand the terms and conditions of any gift cards that you buy or receive, especially the expiration date. If you are giving gift cards be sure to tell the recipient when they expire.

7. Keep all of your receipts (as a backup take a photo) so you have proof of purchase if you need to contact the seller about anything.

8. Be very careful about paying for an extended warranty – make sure you weigh up whether the warranty provides you any additional rights over the ones you already have under BDA law.

9. Be realistic about your food shopping and buy only what you need and can afford. Do not be tempted to go overboard. Read our grocery shopping tips on www.ca.gov.bm.

10. When shopping for groceries at supermarkets, do your research and shop around. Use the unit price information ($ per 100g/kg/100mL/litre) to compare the value of package sizes, brands, other products, packaged and unpackaged items, and regular prices and special offers.

11. If you are buying smartphones or other gadgets do lots of research and find out about plans and all charges, what features are included in the monthly bills, what is not included and how much you have to pay for extras. Shop around, and make sure you’re making an informed decision before buying a new phone, especially for your children.

12. Do not get scammed. Protect yourself when shopping online, including doing your research on sellers and websites to avoid being scammed. If you are getting maintenance work on your home leading up to Christmas make sure you get quotes, know who you are working with and have a solid contract.

13. Check for unsafe goods: Do your research when shopping to ensure that the items and gifts you buy are safe. Check the Product Safety Recalls on the Consumer Affairs web-site.

14. Check for the BEST BUY products – Get the latest product ratings and product recommendations from on-line at sites such as Consumer Reports www.consumerreports.org.

15. Go to the Consumer Affairs web-site, www.ca.gov.bm for more detailed information, tips and advice to help you avoid and shopping pit-falls. 

Donating

As a final note, let’s all be mindful of those in need and consider donating to charity this Christmas either as an alternative to buying gifts or in addition too. 

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 e-mail us at consumers@gov.bm

Honey Adams Bell is the education officer for Consumer Affairs