You want it, but is it worth a bad credit record?

LISTEN: You want it, but is it worth a bad credit record?

I know most of us are wanting to kick back at this time of year: live it up, spend it up, spoil our families and ourselves, but at risk of coming across as a grinch, I come with my downer advice about debt and returning unwanted gifts.

Credit card
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Listen to Wendy's on-air segment on Consumerwatch or read the full story below the podcast.

But, hey, someone’s got to do it…

Spending hundreds or thousands on your credit card or store account to prove that you love someone, or that you’re not stingy, or to outdo the other side of the family, is sad and reckless.

A staggering 40% of South Africa’s 24 million credit active consumers have fallen behind in their repayments as we speak. Getting further into credit over Christmas is all kinds of crazy. 

Before you splurge on something you know you can’t afford, ask yourself if it’s worth the persistent calls of a debt collector and a crappy credit record.

How about spoiling yourself instead with the gift of not having a credit headache in January?

Wendy's practical advice 

When buying gifts, always ask detailed questions about the store's returns policies. 

Does the store require a receipt in order to do an exchange? If so, ask them to issue a gift receipt, and find out how many days the recipient has to return it.

Some stores won’t take back non-defective goods at all, and they don’t have to, by law. So you must ask - never assume.

If there is nothing wrong with the shirt or the Barbie doll or the box of Lego, a stores is not legally obliged to take it back AT ALL.

Many stores, especially the big chains, will take non-defective stuff back as a customer service, as opposed to a legal requirement - but THEY get to come up with their own policies on this - how long you have to take it back, whether you need a till slip or not, whether you get a refund or a credit voucher… Mostly not a refund.

There is one store which will take back any item, for a credit, no matter where it was bought, and without a receipt - as long as it’s in a resaleable condition - that’s all packaging intact - and they sell the item. That’s Game. 

And if you’re giving or receiving electronic goods, cellphones, tablets, computer games - remember that your precious CPA warranty, which allows you to return it if it develops a defect within six months for your choice of a refund, repair or replacement, starts counting down from the date of purchase. So that’s one reason NOT to be organised and buy gifts too early - you don’t want to waste too much of that six months with it sitting unopened in a box.

If you buy something online, it’s best to pay by credit card, because if you don’t get what you paid for, you can apply to your bank for chargeback, with proof, and get your money back.

The festive season 

Finally - the festive season generates a mountain of paper waste (wrapping paper) plastic and glass (booze bottles). We should all be taking the trouble to recycle both. And those of us who live in the greater Durban area have it easy. All we have to do is put plastic, paper, cardboard and polystyrene into those orange bags, and glass and bottles into the clear bags - both provided by the city - put them out on the kerb on your area’s collection day and it’s done.

There’s a bit of a supply problem with the orange bags at the moment, so if you’ve run out, you can collect a free pack from the DSW office on the corner of Argyle and Cowie Roads on the Berea, or use the clear bags for paper and plastic instead of the orange bags.

Happy holidays, everyone! 

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