Our friends at the Council of Better Business Bureaus wrote an article about layaway again becoming a viable option for shoppers “on a budget and searching for more affordable methods of paying for big-ticket items and holiday gifts.”
I first wrote about “The Return of Layaway” in 2009 after seeing retailers revisit this as a way of attracting or keeping customers. We revisited the topic a few months later when the BBB released some practical tips for taking advantage of these programs.
It seems this was not simply a fleeting trend. On the contrary this “old-fashioned method of payment” is back!
“Layaway services can be a great alternative to the using a credit card,” said Stephen A. Cox, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “However, it’s extremely important that customers take note of the fine print and know what to expect.”
So here are some things you can do if you’re looking for alternative ways to purchase those big ticket items or are budgeting for the holidays:
First, look for answers to these questions in the store’s written policy or ask a manager to clarify:
How much time do I have to pay off the item?
When are the payments due?How much do I have to put down?
Are there any storage or service plan fees?
What happens if I miss a payment? Are there penalties? Does the item return to inventory?
Can I get a refund or store credit if I no longer want the item after making a few payments?
What happens if the item goes on sale after I’ve put it on layaway?
Does the retailer or third-party layaway service have a good BBB rating?
Next, read this consumer alert from the Federal Trade Commission.