As holiday shopping season quickly approaches, many retailers are adding layaway programs to their services and third-party layaway websites are popping up. Better Business Bureau advises consumers to evaluate each layaway plan’s policies, fees and contracts before placing potential purchases on hold.
The concept of layaway plans has regained its popularity in recent years and many retailers have reduced fees and increased number of items eligible for the plan to increase the attractiveness of their use.
While the service is an attractive option, it is still important to understand the different aspects and services each layaway plan carries.
“Layaway is a legitimate alternative for credit cards, but it’s important to understand any fees associated,” said Gary Almond, president of BBB serving northeast California. “Read the fine print and know what obligations you are agreeing to.”
Beyond in-store layaway programs, online services through major retailers’ websites are available. Third-party layaway services have also become increasingly popular, offering layaway plans between consumers and retailers that do not offer a layaway plan themselves. The customer then makes planned payments to the third party company until the item is paid off. Then, the company purchases the item from the retailer and ships it to the consumer.
Because of the advent of third-party companies and the differences in plans, BBB urges consumers to consider the following when opting into a layaway plan:
• Get everything in writing.
• Find out the time period allowed for payments.
• Is there a schedule for making payments?
• What happens if a payment is missed?
• Do sale prices apply to items on layaway?
• Be aware of any storage or service plan fees.
• Find out if there is an obligation to purchase the item after making only a few payments.
• Look into the company’s history. What is their BBB rating? Do they have online complaints?
You can find out a store’s BBB rating or read a BBB Business Review by going online to www.bbb.org or by calling 916-443-6843.
As abusiness-supported nonprofit organization, Better Business Bureau's mission isto promote an ethical marketplace. BBB sets standards for ethical businessbehavior, helps consumer identify reliable businesses through BBB BusinessReviews, sets standards for truthful advertising, evaluates and providesreviews of charities, educates consumers, and offers dispute resolutionservices. More than 87 million consumers rely on BBB for Business Reviews,consumer tips and scam alerts. To learn more, please visit www.necal.bbb.org.