How to stop the Grinch ru­in­ing your Christ­mas shop­ping spree

Your spend­ing on gifts could leave you more out of pocket than you ex­pect if things go wrong — so do your re­search, writes Louise Mcbride

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE -

THERE are now only 23 shop­ping days to Christ­mas — and many of us will spend more on gifts and good­ies over the next three weeks than we do at any other time of the year. At this ex­pen­sive time, it’s im­por­tant to en­sure that your money is well spent — and that you’re cov­ered if things go wrong. Here are some rules of thumb which should keep you on the right track.

Some air­lines (such as Aer Lin­gus) al­low the name on a gift voucher to be changed af­ter you have bought it. Oth­ers, how­ever, aren’t as flex­i­ble. Ryanair’s gift vouch­ers are not trans­fer­able and must be used by the per­son they’re is­sued to.

Read the terms and con­di­tions of any gift voucher you are plan­ning to buy — and un­der­stand how easy, or dif­fi­cult, it will be for the re­cip­i­ent to use it in full. Buy a voucher with a long ex­piry date — or ideally, with­out any ex­piry date at all. Find out if the re­cip­i­ent of the voucher will be hit with fees if he doesn’t it use up within a cer­tain time. For ex­am­ple, although One4all gift cards don’t ex­pire, there is a monthly in­ac­tive fee of €1.45 which kicks in af­ter the first year and which ap­plies to money on the card which is not used up within the first 12 months. The weak ster­ling is likely to en­cour­age more shop­ping trips to the North in the run-up to Christ­mas. Ster­ling hasn’t reached par­ity with — and is still stronger than — the euro though.

This is worth re­mem­ber­ing if plan­ning some Christ­mas shop­ping in the North be­cause you might not save as much as you ex­pect to. Re­mem­ber, too, that as the UK isn’t due to leave Europe un­der Brexit un­til the end of March 2019, you still have the same con­sumer rights in the North this Christ­mas as you would if shop­ping any­where in the EU. “Since the Brexit ref­er­en­dum, we have heard that some UK traders are claim­ing that EU leg­is­la­tion doesn’t ap­ply to them,” said Nee. “This isn’t true. For the time be­ing, you are cov­ered by EU con­sumer leg­is­la­tion in the UK.” There­fore, if you buy some­thing in the North and find there’s a fault with it when you come back home, you are still en­ti­tled to a re­pair, re­fund or re­place­ment – de­pend­ing on the fault. Peo­ple are often more sus­cep­ti­ble to scams in the run-up to Christ­mas — par­tic­u­larly if they have left their gift shop­ping un­til the last minute and are there­fore in a rush to buy. The ECC is warn­ing shop­pers to be on the alert for a re­cent ‘su­per­mar­ket’ scam — where they re­ceive fake text mes­sages claim­ing to be from a su­per­mar­ket.

“The mes­sage will tell you that you are one of a small num­ber of lucky shop­pers who has won some­thing — such as a phone worth €999 which you can get for €3,” said Nee. “But you could end up in a sub­scrip­tion trap if you fall for it.” These scams will typ­i­cally ask for your per­sonal and bank de­tails. Never hand over such de­tails fol­low­ing un­so­licited con­tact. The ECC knows of a case where a woman who was duped by this scam had €3 taken from her ac­count ini­tially for the ‘dis­counted’ phone — fol­lowed shortly af­ter­wards by an­other €44. “The woman then got onto her bank and stopped any more money be­ing taken from her ac­count,” said Nee. “Be care­ful about any un­so­licited mes­sages which you re­ceive.”

Don’t shop on your smart­phone ei­ther. “Smart­phone shop­ping can lead to im­pulse buy­ing and pur­chases you wouldn’t have made if you did your re­search prop­erly or from your desk­top com­puter,” said Nee. “You can’t do much re­search on your smart­phone.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.