Consumer Action is a Powerful Force
It’s time to recognise that the Jersey consumer is a powerful force that is coming to the fore, have you joined this wave of change?
Interestingly the vast majority of online consumers are more than happy to vote with a click of their finger if dissatisfied. It would seem that Jersey consumers are now prepared to vote with their feet when in retail shops and gaining a similar experience on price or service.
By flexing your demands and voting with your feet (not just your finger), you too can impact the future strategies of a local business. Remember that if you’re not completely satisfied, you can always find other retail outlets for procure your products or services.
Where to start
We have created a simple toolkit to support you in your purchasing routine:
Many of you will have a vague idea of the likely costs of an item/service, if not, check online so you’re prepared. You make have questions you’d like to ask about a specific product.
2 Price check:
a.If time allows, visit several retail shops to experience the customer service quality and pricing strategy, and/or
b. If you’ve purchased the item or service before – check how it differs now.
3 Customer Service
were you acknowledged by staff and was help offered?
Those working in customer service are typically only too willing to help. If you believe that an item/service is positioned above market value ask why. There will be an explanation to balance your opinion. At certain times of the year there maybe sales / promotional offers / added-value offerings, ask when this might be.
Keep the Jersey Consumer Council informed. We’re marking now until 31st January, ‘The Consumer – Your Vote’ campaign. Share your experiences with us, your successes in discussing prices, service, changing minds, policies and practices.
We look forward to learning more about your experiences and sharing more successes on:www.jerseyconsumercouncil.org.je – see what we’re up to and join in.
Preventing financial pressure at Christmas
It’s easy to get carried away spending at Christmas. Here are a few things to consider when Christmas shopping.
Buying out of habit
Always bought for a particular person but don’t even see them much nowadays. Be brave, suggest you both stop. They will probably be relieved.
Buying because they bought you a present
If someone chooses to buy you a present, that’s their decision. Thank them. But it doesn’t mean you have to buy in return.
Buying because you feel obliged to
Your siblings are having children and the family is expanding. You can opt out. Remember those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
Buying out of guilt
Are you trying to make up for something you did or didn’t do? Buying stuff doesn’t help you or the other person. You need to let go of guilt and if you want to make amends, do so in other ways.
You want to be liked or feel the need to tell others how much you have spent on presents. This doesn’t work. You need to uncover why your self-esteem is low & transform it.
You feel the need to ‘protect’ your children by buying the same things as their friends. Have honest money conversations. Can you part-contribute & they come up with ideas to make up the difference?
Once you have your list set your budget for each person and stick to it. Get creative and your ‘genius’ ideas flowing.
Christmas is a time of celebration, you don’t want it to be a time when you set yourself up with money headaches for next year.
Rapid Transformational Therapist
A little-known flaw in the Consumer Credit Act may put Jersey shoppers at risk of losing their money if things go wrong.
Under Section 75 of the UK Consumer Credit Act, shoppers who make payments between £100 and £30,000 on a credit card can get their money back if the goods turn out to be faulty, not as described or don’t arrive. The UK law makes the retailer and credit card company jointly liable. Jersey consumers usually benefit from this protection due to terms and conditions reflecting the UK Consumer Credit Act.
However, a little-known loophole revealed by a MoneySavingExpert means that consumers will only be reimbursed if there is a direct link between the customer, their credit card provider and the supplier. If the payment is processed by a third-party company then the protection under Section 75 does not apply.
So, if you bought a concert ticket through an agent on a credit card, you may not be able to get your money back using Section 75 if it doesn’t arrive.
The same may apply if you booked a holiday through a travel agent. However, the travel industry may very well have their own financial protection schemes in place.
You may also not be covered for credit card transactions made through online payment platforms, such as PayPal, because it breaks the chain between customer and supplier. However, if the firm you’re buying from has a “Commercial Entity Agreement” you’ll be able to make a claim under Section 75 even if you use PayPal. PayPal has its own Buyer Protection scheme. This covers online purchases made on eBay and other websites if the item does not arrive or match the seller’s description. Property, vehicles, custom-made items and industrial machinery are among some items that are not guaranteed.
Amazon is another firm where Section 75 may not apply. Shoppers who buy items on a credit card from third-party suppliers on the online marketplace will not be covered. If you buy directly from Amazon then you could make a claim.
Confused, it is not surprising! Trading Standards offers the following advice:
- Know who you are buying from and who will take your payment
- Wherever possible put payments on your credit card
- If you are entitled to protection, you are still covered even if a small proportion, part payment or deposit was paid using your card
- When things go wrong, don’t delay. If you don’t have Section 75 protection you may alternative protection through platform buyer protection schemes, but these are often time limited.
Free confidential consumer advice is available from Trading Standards on 448162 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also drop in, they are in the Central Market under the clock.
When we pay a deposit, we are committing to a binding contract with the outstanding payment to be paid at a later date. The natural position of the Law is that the deposit will not be refunded should you decide you do not want the goods or services. You should be aware that the trader may be in a position to pursue you for the outstanding money.
For example, when ordering a wedding dress or prom dress, we are usually required to pay something upfront. It is always recommended that you ask whether the amount it is refundable or not, and if it is, ask the person to indicate the term on the receipt or by email.
For further advice on this matter or any other consumer issues, please contact Trading Standards on 01534 44160.
Customs Explain that the De Minimis Waiver is intended to benefit an individual making a single purchase worth under £240 and shipping it to Jersey
All goods are liable to GST on import regardless of value. The de-Minimis waiver under which GST is not charged is not a right but an administrative concession designed to manage the overwhelming numbers of consignments and letter packets that would otherwise have to be charged up. The cost of handling such high volumes of low value goods outweighs the amount that would actually be collected. The de-minimis waiver ministerial decision can be found by clicking https://www.gov.je/government/planningperformance/pages/ministerialdecisions.aspx?docid=0995E584-AA0F-4CA0-96A9-A5BDF532FB64
The de-Minimis waiver was intended to benefit an individual making a single purchase worth under £240 and shipping it to Jersey. It was not intended to allow individuals, or indeed businesses, to make several purchases all under £240 from the same supplier on the same day hoping they will arrive separately. The Customs & Immigration Service web page on gov.je https://www.gov.je/TaxesMoney/GST/GSTCustomers/Pages/DeclaringPaying.aspx#anchor-1 clearly states that “If you order multiple items (consignments) that arrive as one shipment, we will treat this as a single delivery.”
Having found our Mince Pie tasting in 2015 so revealing we decided to put Christmas Puddings to the taste and price test this year. Taste testers helped us from Citizens Advice Jersey, Trading Standards, the Channel Island Competition and Regulatory Authorities and 4insight, a local Market Reserach Company. Our 5 testers (we had two testers from Trading Standards as one was an entrant to the Great British Bake off 2015) each tester could award a maximum of 25 points per pudding; the clear winner was the most expensive of our pudding purchases.
The testers noted that the complexity of microwave cooking such as microwave for 2 minutes, rest for a minute, cook for 40 seconds and then rest again seemed to have benefits when it comes to the final texture. Detailed below are the scores from the ‘blind’ tasting. Now it is your turn to see if you agree with our testers!
Puddings Tested…full results will be published week commencing 28th November in our all island newsletter.
|Brand of Christmas Pudding|
|Irresistible Rich & Fruity|
|Marks & Spencer|
|Classic Recipe Pudding|
|The Collection Intensely Fruity|
|Tesco Finest Pudding|
|Tesco Christmas Pudding|
|Essential Cider & Sherry|
|6 Month Matured|
Settle down with a warm drink and peruse our Christmas survival tips…ranging from call out charges to buying on line and the risks of fake products.
- Buying Online
In most cases if you shop online with a Jersey, UK or EU trader you have a right to cancel and receive a full refund, even if you just don’t like the goods or have simply changed your mind.
This is in addition to your normal statutory rights. There are some exceptions and time limits apply. Check it out before you buy. Extra tips here… http://www.jerseyconsumercouncil.org.je/consumer-skills/shopping-online/
- Product Safety
Be safe this Christmas. Follow the instructions and appropriate warnings. Make sure toys are CE marked and follow the intended age warnings.
- Know who you are buying from
If you are shopping online make sure you know who and where the trader is based. For example don’t assume you are buying from Amazon when you may be buying from an Amazon seller outside the EU.
Your goods may not comply with European safety standards, they may take a long time to arrive and the cost of returning them may be uneconomical.
Don’t be tempted to buy really cheap branded goods online. Electrical goods may be a fire or electrical shock hazard and perfumes and cosmetics may contain harmful substances.
- Additional Protection
You get additional protection when you buy goods or services over £100 if you paid using your credit card. If something goes wrong and the trader won’t help, the credit card company may have to step in.
- Christmas Loans
If you have to borrow money, make sure they are a reputable lender. Do you understand exactly what you are signing up to and what will happen if your financial situation gets worse? Is the lender a subscriber to the Jersey Code of Consumer Lending? See www.gov.je/tradingstandards/consumerlending
- Call out Charges
If you have to call out a tradesman for an emergency repair during this festive season make sure you know what the ‘call out’ or ‘minimum charge’ will be before you agree. Make sure you both understand what work will be carried out, what it will cost (or how it will be calculated) and when and how the trader expects payment.
- Faulty Goods
You have statutory rights if goods are faulty or not fit for purpose. Try to keep gift receipts as it will help if things go wrong and don’t delay in complaining.
- Unwanted Gifts
Your statutory rights do not apply if you simply changed your mind. Check out the store’s returns policy before you buy. Remember if you bought online, you may have additional rights.
- Recall and Safety Notices
Trading Standards publish product recalls and safety warnings. To sign up for notifications, visit www.mygov.je
You can select the category of goods you are interested in, for example food, toys, electrical goods and nursery products.
Finally, do you know where to get help? Trading Standards offer a free and confidential Consumer Advice Service. The drop in service is located under the clock in the Central Market. You don’t need an appointment. Alternatively you can call on 448160 or email email@example.com
You are in a rush to get your new gadget or kitchen appliance out of the packaging.
You may have seen a warranty or guarantee card fall out of the box. What exactly is it for and should you fill it in? Trading Standards has provided answers to these questions.
What is the card for?
The card enables you to register for a free warranty (or guarantee) which adds to your legal rights. It may be a condition to fill in and return the card before the warranty becomes valid.
Do I need this additional free warranty?
It may be easier to claim on the free warranty for a repair or replacement if something has gone wrong. Under the law, after 6 months you have to prove you didn’t cause the problem, which can be tricky. It is also a good backup if the retailer has closed or gone out of business or you bought the goods out of the Island.
Have I still got a manufacturer’s warranty if I didn’t fill out and return the card?
It depends. Get in touch with the manufacturer. They may still accept your registration and you may be able to do this online.
Who can claim?
It is usually just the person who purchased the item who can make a claim. Check the small print. Some warranties extend to other people, referred to as ‘third party rights’.
Are there other limitations?
Check the terms and conditions. There will be strict time limits when the warranty expires. Find out who is responsible for the postage and packaging if goods need to be sent away for repair.
Are there other benefits of registration?
The manufacturer will have your contact details if your goods are then subject to a safety notice or recall.
What about extended warranties?
Take care when filling out warranty or guarantee registration cards to ensure you are only registering for a free warranty or guarantee. Don’t confuse it with extended warranties or guarantees which are similar to insurance policies. These cost money. You should think carefully about the benefit of buying an extended warranty against the value of the goods, the risk of them breaking down and always shop around as you may be able to purchase a multiple product policy for less money.
Do I have any protection without a manufacturer’s warranty?
Yes. Under Jersey law you are protected if goods are faulty if they are not of satisfactory quality or fit to do the job intended. You may also have additional protection if the goods were over £100 and you paid in full or part payment on a credit card.
For more advice, contact Trading Standards on 448160 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Telco Contracts – when does ‘Fixed Mean Fixed’?
When you sign up for a mobile phone, telephone or broadband contract you know you’re going to be committing to a fixed length contract, usually 12, 18 or 24 months.
You also know that the terms of that contract – including how much you pay for it – should be fixed over that period. The consumer is tied into that contract unless they pay an early termination charge (“ETC”) to leave before the end of the minimum contract period.
Remember that the Telco providers’ terms and conditions usually allow for price increases and variations to your contract during this term.
Thanks to a licensing condition called ‘fixed-means-fixed’ imposed by the regulator in April 2014, if your provider decides to increase prices part way through your fixed term contract, you should be given two calendar months’ written notice before the price rise and an option to end the contract penalty free. For example, if the amount of data included in your contract is reduced, you may end up paying more than originally agreed. As a result of change to licence conditions, you can exit the contract without penalty if the provider increases the cost of their deal.
This right only relates to changes to products within the list of services paid for by the recurring fee / subscription charge. If your deal includes a number of free services, the key point will be whether those were included in the original offer. If they were not, even if they were free originally, the operator is able to introduce a charge for them in future. It also does not apply other ‘out of bundle’ prices such roaming charges.
Please be aware that the protection afforded to you under ‘fixed-means-fixed’ only covers price increases ‘in-bundle’. In other words, your monthly allowances.
‘Out of bundle’ costs, being the amount you pay for exceeding your monthly allowances or new charges introduced for something which was originally free are likely to not be caught by this protection.
Our advice is to make sure you fully understand what is ‘in’ or ‘out of bundle’ when you sign up to a new contract and be aware that prices can change.