Holiday Shopping: consumer rights

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    The year-end and new year time is one of the most active for businesses. In fact, a recent survey by Unimer revealed that 56% of Costa Ricans will spend their Christmas bonuses on buying gifts and 39% on the purchase of jewelry, clothing and personal items.

    Therefore it is important that consumers know their rights to avoid problems with the goods purchased. Cynthia Zapata, head of the Department of Consumer Support of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (MEIC in Spanish) explained that although many products are sold with discounts or on sale, they still need to comply with all the requirements of the law, as for example the minimum warranty of 30 working days.

    In addition, Zapata said that if retailers offer consumers a product with a guarantee of more than 30 business days, this should be written on the bill, or in a certificate of warranty for the customer to have proof of the extended deadline.

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    Regarding on hold purchases, the law requires a form which includes the characteristics and conditions of the article, and both the seller and the buyer must respect this commitment. The consumer must make the payments in due time and the seller must reserve the merchandise on hold and deliver it in perfect shape when the deadline is met.

    Likewise, even though the items were on sale or with a discount, if they are technology or appliances they must be tested on site to verify their proper performance, the consumer can demand this right.

    “It is important to remember that if consumer regrets a purchase made a change cannot be demanded. The consumer is entitled to the warranty, which allows you to make a claim if the item you bought fails, but if you regret it just because there is no right to demand the return of the purchases or money, that will depend on the policies of each company” said Zapata.

    Recommendations

    It is also important to take into account some recommendations when doing your Holiday shopping.

    1. Make a list of what you need to buy before heading out to the shops in order to stick to the budget.
    2. Review the merchandise very well before asking to put it on hold and check that you have the appropriate form.
    3. Take into account the range of the warranty. If you’re buying gifts for the Holidays check that the warranty is in effect at the time of giving the gift so that the person has the chance to try the article and see if it works properly.
    4. Inquire about the return policies of the companies before buying products.
    5. When shopping plan ahead because unplanned purchases, usually lead to over-indebtedness and the consumer often regrets them.
    6. Avoid indebtedness and carefully manage your credit cards, because many people use them to take advantage of discounts but when they get the account statements they cannot cancel the charges and must pay interest. It is common that what was saved in discounts is minimal or it even gets annulled because the interest rate that arrears is much higher at the end.
    7. Keep all receipts and invoices.

    What to do in case of an issue while shopping?
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    Although the government offices are closed during the Holidays, the line 800-CONSUMO (800-266-7866) and the number 1-311, still work for consultation and to help consumers with their questions. In addition, the web platform “Consumidor en línea” (Online Consumer) is the primary means for filing complaints and is available 24 hours, 7 days a week.

    To file a complaint you can access the website www.meic.go.cr and go to the lower menu where you will find the icon “Consumidor en línea”. This displays the platform in which you can fill out the form and attach copies, photos, digital files, videos, among other elements that support the complaint. As of that moment the complaint starts bein

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