Connecticut Better Business Bureau Recommends Layaway Plans to take the Sting out of New Year’s Bills
With large retailers offering deals on layaway plans, consumers may find this old-fashioned concept attractive for holiday purchases.
While these plans are an attractive alternative to credit cards, Connecticut Better Business Bureau advises consumers to make sure they understand their terms and conditions to avoid being surprised by fees and other charges that could add to the cost of their purchase.
The layaway concept dates to the Great Depression, when cash-strapped families found the idea of paying for items on a monthly or weekly basis attractive. The concept lost its luster in the days of easy credit, but it has been revived and proven popular in the last few years. This year, several chains have reduced fees and increased the number of items eligible for layaway.
As a complement to in-store layaway, some retailers provide online layaway services for purchasing items through the retailer’s website. Third-party businesses also have sprung up, offering layaway plans online between customers and retailers that don’t have their own layaway program. Customers make periodic payments to the third-party layaway service provider. Once the item is fully paid for, the business then buys the item from the retailer and ships it to the customer.
When buying items on layaway, BBB advises consumers to carefully read the associated paperwork and ask:
- 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?
-Submitted by Howard Schwartz
Executive Communications Director
Connecticut Better Business Bureau