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How to really save money on the “Sales”

Irish News of the World

Sunday June 14th, 2009

Diarmuid MacShane

How to really save money on the “Sales”

Though it seems like every shop has a sale nearly all the time, we’re coming soon to the time of year when we normally see the “summer sales”.  While we hard pressed consumers are still holding on tight to our cash, the retailers are going to go all out in the next couple of weeks to get us to at least part with some of it.

But remember – times are tough for the retailers as well so they’re not just having the sales for our benefit. They’re going all out to get rid of as much old stock as they can, and to make as much money as possible, so we customers will have to keep our eyes peeled for the best offers, and to make sure we avoid the duds and ripoffs.

For most shops, the sales are still officially a couple of weeks away, so here are a few things you can do before then to make sure that you really bag a bargain.

Don’t believe everything you see

For a sale to be within the law here in Ireland, a product must have been on sale at the higher price for a “reasonable” amount of time before it’s reduced. If sales are starting in a couple of weeks, then they should still be at the higher price today.

To make sure you’re getting a bargain in the sales, if you’re thinking about buying something but you’re waiting for the sale, check the price now because in the sale, you should then see the price reduction.

And if you don’t report the shop to the National Consumer Agency.

It’s worth remembering that just because a shop has SALE stickers all over the place, don’t always assume that everything is cheaper than it was before.

A neat trick by shops is to try to make us think that everything is cheaper but then to only have old stock, or less popular stuff, on sale. What some shops are really hoping for is that we get carried away and end up buying normal price products (or even items that are made more expensive) during the sale.

So, the key to getting the best out a sale is to only buy things that you need and that you know the price of, and to only buy them if the prices have actually come down.

How much to spend

I’ve written here before about the dangers of using your credit cards, or dipping into your overdraft, and during a sale definitely isn’t the time to do that.

You’re not really getting a bargain if you end up paying for everything in the sales on your credit card.

By the time you’ve paid off your debts and interest, your purchases could very well have cost you more than before the sales.

Check for alternatives

IF you see something on sale in one shop, it’s quite possible that its on sale somewhere else down the street. Make the effort to check out the alternatives – you can check out a few shops, or even just make a few calls.

It’s always worth making sure during the sale season that the price you’re thinking of paying is actually the cheapest available.

And don’t forget the internet. In many cases, the bargains are so good on internet sites that they’ll still be cheaper than in sales in the local shops. Do a quick check – and don’t forget the extra postage costs – just to make sure.

Ask for more

Don’t forget that the recession has put Irish shoppers in a stronger position now with retailers than any time in the last ten years. Retailers are crying out for us to buy their goods and services, and if they know we’re very close to make a purchase many will cut an extra 10% to 20% off sale items just to clinch the deal.

This is more likely to happen for higher value purchases such as electrical items or furniture, or if you’re purchasing a large number of items in the same store.

So when you’re at the till, it costs you nothing to ask if there’s anything better that they can do. If you’ve done your research and you know that the same items are the same price down the street, you’re in an even better bargaining position if they think you can just walk away without buying anything.

Remember your rights

Just because something is cheaper in a sale doesn’t mean that you have any less rights as consumers. Unless you’re told clearly otherwise, if you buy something in a sale, but you find it’s broken, you’re still entitled to your full rights – a repair, a refund or a replacement.

Many readers of ValueIreland.com have told me stories of shops trying to fob off customers who bought sale items with bogus stories that because something was in a sale that there’s no refunds allowed.

Not true. And remember, you don’t have to accept a credit note either.

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