The first sales of the year are no longer leading to long queues outside the shops, a clear indication that many consumers are no longer waiting for the sales to do their shopping.
While the opportunities to go shopping are always there, the Competition and Consumer Affairs Authoirty said there was a wrong impression regarding the rights of consumers when they buy things during the sales.
“After Black Friday, the shopping and frantic spending of Chrismas and the many opportunities to shop online, many may have been left with empty pockets but nothing will keep the commercial community from holding seasonal sales on their products at a time of the year when business slows down.”
We asked the Director of Information at the Authority, Odette Vella, what the rights of consumers are when they buy things on sale.
“As consumers, we have the same legal rights during sales which we have when buying things at the original prices. In other words, if the item has a hidden flaw or defect which we could not see when we bought the product, according to the law, even if you bought it at a lower price than it usually sells for, you still have the same rights.”
Odette Vella explained that unless there is a notification in the shops which states that items sold during a sale are non-returnable, the consumer has the right to change the item or get his money back.
“That is unless the product has nothing wrong with it, and the shop decides to impose a policy that an item cannot be returned, in which case the consumer has no right to return the item. Obviously, when I go to exchange an item, I know the conditions such as the time limit I have to return it, and I have to be careful not to tear off the tags, things like that.”
On the second day of the New Year, in the commercial centres of our towns, there was none of the usual frenzy to shop for bargains. Even some shop oweners told us that the January sales, at least in Malta, no longer create as much interest among shoppers.
We found some contrasting opinions among consumers. See what they had to say here: