1 January 2014
Each year Australian consumers are confronted with shonky claims, over-priced goods and ever-more complex products and services. To help consumers avoid unnecessary fees and charges, dodgy credence claims, international price discrimination and warranty rorts, CHOICE is offering all Australians ten New Year’s resolutions that can help to ease cost of living pressures in 2014.
“Following a few simple resolutions when shopping in-store and online will help to take the pressure of the family budget and encourage businesses to work harder for your loyalty,” says CHOICE spokesperson, Tom Godfrey.
The top ten consumer resolutions for 2014 are:
Use unit pricing when doing the weekly shop
With supermarkets spending millions each year telling consumers they will get “lower prices every day” and prices are “down down and staying down”, savvy consumers can look past the catchy slogans and compare the unit price on all products when doing the weekly shop.
Avoid the “Australia Tax” on digital products and cosmetics
With Australians paying up to 50% more on some IT products and cosmetics, learning how to use a virtual private network (VPN) to navigate around online geo-blocks can save you a great deal of money. For more visit our guide to shopping without walls.
Don’t get stung by “free-range” claims
With many “free-range” claims unlikely to meet consumer expectations of what most believe “free-range” to be, it’s important to read the information on pack before paying a premium. If the stocking density is above the 1,500 birds her hectare set out in the national model code you might want to reconsider paying a premium. For more visit www.choice.com.au/savefreerange
Compare health insurance policies to get the best deal
With health insurance premiums set to increase by 6.2% on average next year, it’s time to health-check your policy and try to ensure you are getting the right cover at a competitive price for you and your family. For more visit www.choice.com.au/comparehealth.
Return any faulty Apple products purchased in the last two years
With the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) taking Apple to task over failing to meet its obligations under Australian Consumer Law, consumers can now return any faulty Apple product purchased in the past two years – or longer in some cases. To learn more about your consumer rights visit www.choice.com.au/consumerrights.
Ignore “no refund” signs
No refund signs are illegal, so if you have purchased a faulty product and are confronted with a “no refund” sign inform the retailer about your consumer right to a refund and if you don’t have any luck contact Fair Trading or Consumer Affairs in your state or territory.
Watch out for fake online reviews
With consumers looking to online reviews of products and services before making a purchase, it’s important to be on the look out for fake reviews. Look at the style and tone of the review and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. For more visit www.choice.com.au/fakereviews.
Dob in a dodgy surcharge and use a fee free payment method
With airlines continuing to slug consumers with sky-high credit card surcharges, consumers should try and opt for a fee-free payment method and if confronted with a dodgy surcharge we want to hear from you at www.choice.com.au/takecharge.
Compare, ditch and switch to a low-fee, low-rate credit card
While mortgage rates have dropped over time, credit card interest rates have remained stubbornly high. If you’re someone who doesn’t pay off your credit card balance in full every month, consider switching to a no-frills, low-rate, low-fee product. You can use our free and unbiased Compare, Ditch and Switch site to look for a more competitive banking deal.
Check your home and contents cover
Home and contents insurance is often a complex product and premiums have risen steeply over recent times. Don’t get stuck auto-renewing your policy without testing the market. Instead, keep hikes to your home and contents policy at bay with our complete guide to home and contents insurance.