Thinking about Layaway? Know the Fees Before You Shop
November 17th, 2011 by Lisa
As Black Friday draws near, thoughts turn to holiday shopping, and how to get the items you want for a price you can afford. If you choose to buy using layaway, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, has a few holiday tips for you:
- First, get all the details about the retailer’s layaway plan in writing before you shop. Look for the terms of the plan — including the time you have to pay for your items, the store’s refund policy for layaway items, minimum payments, and layaway charges or other fees.
- Second, it’s useful to compare the costs of using layaway versus using credit. Add up the total amount in fees you will pay at a specific store before you get your item(s) out of layaway. Then, if you have a credit card, determine how much money in interest you would pay if you charged the same item(s).
- Third, be sure to check out the store, including online retailers, before you shop there at all. Your state Attorney General’s Office (www.naag.org), local consumer protection agency (www.consumeraction.gov), and your local Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) can tell you if consumers have filed complaints against the retailer or online service.
Before you hit the stores, take a look at the FTC’s consumer alert on layaway plans. Also, if a store fails to disclose important terms of its layaway plan, it may be breaking the law. If a retailer hasn’t explained its layaway terms, or has otherwise misled you about them, file a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).
For 13 years, the DSEF has been proud to partner with the FTC and other organizations to offer a wide array of education events and resources that encourage consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their rights and make better-informed decisions.
You’ll find a wealth of resources at www.ncpw.gov that will help you protect your privacy, manage your money, learn more about credit and debt, decipher advertising messages, and steer clear of fraud and scams.
Please take a moment to share the resources on this Web site with others in your communities and companies and, together, we’ll help build a nation of better-informed and educated consumers.
Charles. L. Orr
Direct Selling Education Foundation