04.How to bag a bargain
Shoppers aren’t simply slaves to the retail planners. We now pride ourselves on seeing through cynical marketing exercises. We do product research on the internet or ask family and friends for advice, and we’re less likely to be brand-loyal than we used to be.
Here are some ways you can fight back against unwise shopping impulses.
Shopping can cause the brain to release dopamine, the same pleasure pathway activated by food, sex and drugs. That’s why it feels good, and why you need tools to rein you in. Go in with a budget and a list of products you hope to buy and try to stick to it.
Be aware of your behaviour — ask yourself why you’re shopping. Is it to make you feel better? Are you shopping for things you need? Are you purely on the hunt for a bargain? Buying for pleasure is fine as long as that’s what you planned to do.
If you’re not sure about a purchase, give yourself some cooling-off time — even if it’s just 10 minutes — and ask yourself (and your shopping partner) if you really need it.
When enough’s enough
Partly because of the dopamine 'rush', people can develop a shopping addiction or 'compulsive buying disorder', which can lead to serious debt. This needs to be treated like any other behavioural addiction — by seeking professional help.
Shopping rights at factory outlets
Most outlet shops display their returns and exchange policy. These do vary, so they’re worth a read. Some have the same policy as their normal retail shop. Others have a stricter ‘no returns’ policy — but even these stores must comply with the laws that protect consumer rights (see Your Rights for more information).
The basic principles are these:
- Any item you buy must match what’s promised by its label or packaging, otherwise you’re entitled to a refund.
- You’re also entitled to a refund for anything that’s faulty or not of ‘merchantable’ quality, unless it’s clearly labelled as a faulty item or ‘second’.
- If you simply change your mind, you aren’t entitled to a refund or exchange. However, some retailers will give you one anyway — it depends on their store policy.