CHICAGO, IL – November
1, 2011- The current economy has left many shoppers on a budget and searching
for more affordable methods of paying for big-ticket items and holiday gifts.
This holiday season, many families will be turning to alternate forms of payment
to make ends meet. With many stores offering layaway services, the Better
Business Bureau (BBB) is offering advice on how to use this payment plan in
lieu of credit cards.
Once considered a dated, old-fashioned method of payment, layaway services are
back in a big way, with many businesses now shaking the dust off their layaway
programs for today’s cash-strapped consumers. Buying items on layaway is
different from putting them on a credit card because the buyer isn’t charged
interest on the purchase and can’t take the item home until it is paid off.
When purchasing items on layaway, the buyer must typically make a down payment
of 10 to 20 percent and pay any service or plan fees for the store to hold the
item for them. The customer then has typically 30 to 90 days to make periodic
payments to pay off the balance. Once it is paid off, the customer can take the
“Layaway services can be a great alternative to the using a credit card,” said Steve
J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois. “However, it’s extremely important
that customers take note of the fine print and know what to expect.”
As a complement to in-store layaway, some stores provide online layaway
services for purchasing items through the retailer’s website. Additionally,
third-party businesses have sprung up for the purpose of setting up layaway
plans online between customers and retailers that don’t already have a layaway
program. Once the item is fully paid for, the business then buys the item from
the retailer and ships it to the customer.
When considering buying items on layaway, the BBB advises consumers to get
everything in writing and offers the following checklist of questions to ask:
• How much time do I have to
pay off the item?
• When are the payments due?
• How much do I have to put
• 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?
Also, visit www.bbb.org to check the Business Review of the
retailer or third-party layaway service.
For more advice on how to be a savvy consumer this holiday season, visit www.bbb.org
As a private, non-profit organization, the
purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs
help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and
arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and
charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reviews on businesses and
nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity
before making a purchase or donation.