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05.Shopping traps

  • Extended warranties The salesperson tells you that, for an extra couple of hundred dollars, an extended warranty on your purchase will give you another four years’ protection should anything go wrong. But you’re buying insurance you most likely won’t need: most appliances are covered by a manufacturer’s warranty, usually one year for TVs and up to three years for some LCD and plasma models. And, if something goes wrong outside the warranty period, you may be covered under the Australian Consumer Law, which provides statutory consumer guarantees for any kind of goods or services regardless of any manufacturer or extended warranty.  See our Extended warranties report.

  • Christmas Club savings accounts Usually offered by credit unions, they’re designed to help you to avoid credit card bill shock after Christmas by preventing you from accessing any funds you’ve saved in them until just before Christmas. But some have dismal interest rates, such as just one per cent. You’ll be better off with an online savings account that adds a much higher rate of interest to your savings.

  • Gift cards and vouchers have been the subject of numerous complaints to CHOICE over the years. More than half of the participants in a 2010 CHOICE survey told us they’d been ensnared by the most common trap – the gift card expired before they were able to use its full value. Almost all gift cards sold in Australia expire after one year or less; only a handful of cards, such as Bunnings, IKEA (Perth and Adelaide stores), EB Games and Toys R Us, have an indefinite expiry. See our report

  • Online shopping scams Scammers can pretend to be selling a product via a website or auction site – often very cheaply – just so they can steal your credit card or bank account details. Similarly, they may take your money but send you a faulty or worthless product instead – or even nothing at all.  

  • No refunds given Retailers sometimes display signs saying “no refunds given”. This is illegal. If what you’ve bought is faulty or defective, you’re legally entitled to a refund. However, you’re not legally entitled to a refund if you simply change your mind. See our report


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