Consumer’s Guide to Buying at Trade Shows
Trade fairs are organized with the aim of attracting consumers and stimulating purchases. At trade fairs, consumers have the opportunity to compare the product and service offerings of different traders present under one roof.
Trade show offers are generally very attractive because they give consumers the opportunity to take advantage of good deals. The desire to buy goods or services at reduced prices can sometimes lead to reckless buying and after-sales problems. Being aware of your legal rights and responsibilities as a consumer can avoid such unnecessary problems.
No matter how attractive a promotional offer is, consumers should not agree to sign sales contracts or agree to pay a deposit unless they are fully convinced of the product or service. Indeed, once the contract is signed or the deposit paid, the sales agreement becomes legally binding and the consumer can no longer change his mind.
If the consumer finally decides to cancel the sale, he could face various financial consequences, such as the possibility of losing some or all of the deposit paid. There may also be finance charges or additional penalties. These charges are often included in the terms and conditions of the sales contract that consumers are asked to sign. Hence the importance of reading the sales contract before signing it.
Before concluding a sale, the consumer must also verify that the documentation given to him includes a clear description of the goods or services ordered, the delivery date, the agreed price and the terms of payment.
When consumers wish to purchase a service, before signing up, they should make sure that they fully understand all of the terms and conditions. In addition, if they are interested in a particular offer, consumers should ask whether by accepting the offer they are binding on a defined contract. If so, then consumers should collect information on the length of the contract, how it might be terminated, and should also ask what the penalties are if they decide to terminate the contract prematurely.
Regarding the payment of down payments, while it can be said that it is common practice for traders to generally decide on the amount of down payment required to conclude a sales contract, consumers should be aware that it is in their interest to agree to pay only a reasonably small amount to pay. This is because the product or service ordered has yet to be supplied by the merchant and problems may arise in the meantime.
It is in consumers’ best interests to agree to pay only a reasonably small down payment-Odette Vella
One of the worst scenarios is for the seller to go out of business. If this were to happen, consumers could face considerable difficulty in getting the products or their money back. There could also be some issues with the actual order, such as a different product being delivered, or arriving damaged or with parts missing. In such situations, the higher the outstanding balance, the better the chances for consumers to get a quick fix from the seller.
Another important responsibility of consumers is to ensure that they receive proof of any payment made. This can take the form of a tax receipt or any other document proving what product was purchased, from whom and the date the payment was made.
It should also be remembered that the rights of consumers do not diminish just because the products are sold at a reduced price. Indeed, if the goods purchased do not comply with the contract of sale, or are not suitable for the particular use for which they are purchased, consumer law obliges the seller to provide a free remedy.
First, and if necessary, the seller must at least offer to repair the defective product. The repair should be accepted by consumers if it is done within a reasonable time, at no additional cost, and without causing them significant inconvenience. When this is not possible, consumers can request replacement of the goods. If a replacement is not possible, the law allows consumers to request a refund of part of the price paid or the revocation of the sales contract, i.e. a full refund.
These remedies can be claimed by consumers for a period of up to two years from the date of purchase. Consumers should also be very careful with offers that sound too good to be true. Demands for huge price cuts must be taken with a grain of salt. In other words, consumers should never buy anything without first shopping around and making sure they are really getting a good deal.
When faced with a problem, consumers should immediately complain to the merchant. If in doubt about their legal rights or the type of remedy to which they are entitled, then they should seek help from the MCCAA. Consumers can contact the authority through the “Contact Us” form at www.mccaa.org.mt or by calling 8007 4400.
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