Wigan Citizens' Advice team gives top Black Friday shopping tips

Residents are being urged to make sure they shop safe and smart as they head online for some of the busiest trading days of the year.
Citizens' Advice Wigan Borough chief officer Lisa KidstonCitizens' Advice Wigan Borough chief officer Lisa Kidston
Citizens' Advice Wigan Borough chief officer Lisa Kidston

Citizens’ Advice Wigan Borough is sharing advice for sticking to budgets and making sure people know their consumer rights ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The organisation is particularly keen to spread the word as the search for Christmas gifts and bargains will look notably different this year as non-essential shops are closed due to lockdown.

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Nationally Citizens’ Advice Consumer Service has seen the number of people seeking help for online shopping matters increase by almost 60 per cent in the space of 12 months.

The organisation has fielded around 125,000 issues around e-commerce so far this year, compared to 74,000 in the same period in 2019.

Citizens’ Advice Wigan Borough operations manager Sandra Traynor shared her expertise to help consumers stay safe online.

She said internet purchasers get an automatic 14-day cooling-off period starting the day after an order is received. Only bespoke and made-to-measure items or ones with a digital or hygiene seal are exempt.

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She also said shops aren’t legally required to accept returns for unwanted goods, but must honour their own returns policies.

Customers also have legal rights if they unwittingly buy an item that is broken or damaged, unusable, not what was advertised or doesn’t match the seller’s description.

Sellers must give a refund if the item is returned within 30 days. After that they have the option of repairing or replacing the faulty product.

Shoppers are also advised to make sure websites start ‘https’, have padlock symbols in the taskbar, give addresses and are not riddled with spelling and grammar errors.

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Sellers also have a responsibility to deliver items. They should be the ones chasing delivery companies.

However, customers are urged to take care when selecting safe places for leaving parcels as stolen items might not be automatically replaced.

With prices being slashed and advertising urging people to spend Citizens’ Advice Wigan Borough is particularly sure that residents do not dig themselves a financial hole by splashing out.

Chief officer Lisa Kidston said: “With the uncertainty that coronavirus has brought, it’s important that anyone thinking about turning to credit or taking out a loan to help pay for purchases understands the full costs involved and if they can actually afford to pay it back.

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“If you are struggling with your finances, it may feel overwhelming but it’s best to do something about it as soon as possible.

“You can come to us to get free debt and money advice which can help you find a way forward and avoid spiralling debts. We’ve recently launched video advice drop-in sessions, which offer the face-to-face aspect of our service in a safe and secure way.”

Citizens’ Advice Borough Wigan is advising people to spend time shopping around, researching what deals are on offer and getting advice.

Residents should always look at the total amount they will have to repay when borrowing money and are being reminded that a shorter repayment period may be better than a slightly lower Annual Percentage Rate (APR) amount.

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Wiganers are also being advised to take care when looking at buy-now-pay-later deals, as these can work out extremely expensive if people are not able to make the later payments on time.

Even interest-free deals should be checked to ensure it is possible to pay it off in the time period, as anyone who fails to do this could have their credit rating damaged.

Citizens’ Advice Wigan Borough said residents should never borrow money on the spur of the moment, but think about payment options beforehand, work out your budget and stick to it so the repayments are affordable.

For more information or help visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk

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