Living Costs
Shopping
07 February 2024

Co-op may cut or cancel Islanders' dividend payments

The Channel Islands Co-op has announced that it could be forced to slash or suspend its “divvy” payments this year, as a result of ‘extremely challenging market conditions’. The local retailer has written to members to say that a proposition allowing its board to decide whether dividend rates should be reduced, or whether no dividend should be paid this year, will be presented in May at its Annual Members Meeting. Islanders have taken to social media to express their outrage at the announcement, which will affect consumers of all ages, as well as local charities who have share numbers that some shoppers choose to use. Today, long queues of customers queued at the Co-op’s Grande Marche store to withdraw their previous dividend funds from their accounts. Our Chairman, Carl Walker, has described the news as ‘another blow for consumers’. Speaking to the local media, he said that is was unfair and immoral to take a dividend from people who had been consciously building it up, with many Islanders choosing to shop at the Co-op purely because of the 4% dividend that they’ve always known they will receive – especially as every receipt they have received previously told them what they would be getting back. He said that many Islanders see the payment as a bonus, and many make plans each year on how they will spend it. "I've been speaking to Coop customers this morning, who are queuing up with their share books in their hands withdrawing their money which they've saved up in there over the years because they are angry at the decision that the Co-op surprised everyone with," said Mr Walker. "They're angry that the announcement hasn't come sooner or that the announcement isn't warning them that maybe next year's dividend would be withheld." Writing to members, the Chief Executive Officer of the Co-op, Mark Cox, said: “Regardless of our concerted efforts, our end-of-year financial report will reflect a notable reduction in our net surplus. Faced with this decline, the Society must make some tough decisions that will impact our members. This may involve either reducing dividend payments or suspending them entirely for the 2023 financial year."
Consumer Tips
Money
Shopping
20 December 2023

Christmas shopping tips

Here are our top tips for consumers this Christmas: Plan early – organisation is key. Don’t forget your everyday bills – they still need to be paid. Shop around to get the cheapest prices. Be careful with your credit card – clear the balance straight away. Don’t reply on your overdraft – it always has to be paid back. Don’t borrow from unauthorised lenders. Always buy from a reputable company and do your research. Don’t be tempted to buy something just because it’s advertised with a big discount. You might find a better deal elsewhere. Check and track prices using sites such as camelcamelcamel.com who monitor Amazon prices throughout the year. Sign up to your favourite store newsletter or follow them on social media for the latest deals. Get a store loyalty card to receive loyalty points or special offers. Look out for two-for-one offers – get two presents for the price of one. Look out for scams - if it’s too good to be true it usually is.
Consumer Tips
Money
Shopping
20 December 2023

What to do if you've received any unwanted or faulty gifts this Christmas

If you've received any Christmas gifts you don't want or, even worse, that don't work, then it's important you know your rights. Most shops will allow you to return unwanted gifts, as long as you have either a gift receipt, or ask the person who bought it for the original receipt. But there's some important things to be aware of.   Returning faulty goods As a consumer, the Supply of Goods and Services (Jersey) Law 2009 protects you if your goods are:    Faulty or damaged    Useless    Not what was advertised or matching the description    These terms apply whether your goods were bought new, in a sale or even second hand. Usually you'll be required to provide proof of purchase when returning goods, such as a receipt.    If goods are faulty, within a reasonably short period of time after the sale took place, a consumer is entitled to a full refund or compensation. However, consumers could alternatively select a repair or replacement, which would then be at the company’s discretion to accept.   Returning unwanted goods When returning unwanted rather than faulty goods, consumers will usually have to follow the company’s internal returns policy. These ‘goodwill’ policies may offer either a refund, exchange or credit note. It’s worth noting that company’s aren’t required by law to have a returns policy. Time limits may be imposed on these returns, such as 28 days, and may increase around the Christmas period.     Returning online goods When buying online goods, you have additional rights for returns. This is because of the ‘expectation versus reality’ phenomenon, where the image online may look nothing like the physical item you receive. Under the Consumer Contracts regulation, you have the right to return items if you change your mind. Once your goods have been received, you have 14 days to request a return. Some companies will do pre-paid returns, but some will require the customer to pay for their own postage.      Gift cards Expiry dates for gift cards can vary enormously. These can range from just a few months to even a year. When receiving a gift card, make sure to check the expiry date to ensure you use it in this timeframe. The gift giver won’t get their money back if you don’t spend it!   If you lose a gift card, then you may be able to have one reissued for a small fee. However, this is ultimately within the retailer’s power.
Consumer Tips
Shopping
20 December 2023

Your Christmas shopping rights

Christmas can be the most wonderful time of year for some of us, but present buying isn’t always so merry and bright. Your husband’s shirt is too tight, the children’s Xbox doesn’t do what it should, and your gift card doesn’t have an expiry date. Knowing your consumer rights could protect you from any problems over the festive season.   Proof of purchases Hang on to your receipts, including till receipts, email receipts, gift receipts, gift cards, bank and credit card statements and cheque book stubs – of which can be used for proof of purchase. Some retailers are preferring to give an email rather than a paper receipt. You may not want to give your email address out, or perhaps you don’t have one. Don’t be afraid to ask for a paper receipt. Most retailers have the policy that they will provide a paper receipt if asked.   The Jersey Consumer Council have contacted both New Look and Dunelm who now prefer to issue email receipts. Both shops have confirmed that they will happily give a paper receipt if the customer asks for one.   Gift cards When purchasing a gift card make sure that the retailer includes any important terms and conditions at the point of purchase. Always read the fine print. Gift card expiry dates can vary enormously. Make sure at purchase that your card has an expiration date that gives plenty of time to spend it.   Product Safety Be safe this Christmas. Follow the instructions and appropriate warnings. Make sure that products display a CE mark, proof that the product has passed EU safety regulations, or the UKCA mark, which is the UK equivalent. All toys, including ‘free’ toys that come with magazines or food purchases, must display the CE mark. Even if a product is marked ‘this is not a toy’ it may still have to satisfy safety tests if it is ‘child appealing’.   Read more Christmas tips in the latest edition of our Consumer News newsletter. Click here to read it.
Living Costs
Shopping
05 December 2023

Increased freight costs proposed for 2024 - what does this mean for the consumer?

Condor Ferries are proposing a 19% hike in their freight costs next year. We’re worried that this increase could be a major blow for consumers, with retailers likely to be forced to pass on these costs to Islanders. Our Chairman, Carl Walker, predicts said: “Ultimately, any increase in freight costs will always filter down, so this increase in freight costs is likely to be a major blow for Islanders, with retailers likely to be forced to pass these costs on to consumers by raising their prices even more.” Condor are being asked to justify their price rises by the Government and the Jersey Consumer Council support this enquiry. We’ll keep a close eye on this situation and will continue to check retail prices. We continue to encourage Islanders to shop around to get the best prices and to vote with their feet if they feel that prices in certain stores are getting too high.
Money
Shopping
24 November 2023

Top tips for Black Friday shopping

AHHHH, it’s Black Friday, so many bargains to buy buy buy… When it comes to tackling Black Friday we’re advising you to stay calm and don’t feel under the pressure to buy. To help you take on this busy Christmas shopping day, we’re sharing some Which? magazine tips that will help you bargain shop wisely. Don’t Panic The pressure of Black Friday can leave you feeling pressured into buying quickly. But you don’t need to hurry. Which? say that the majority of products remain the same price or even cheaper after Black Friday. So take your time.   Check if the deal is real By using price tracking websites such as CamelCamelCamel for Amazon or PriceRunner for wider websites you can see comparisons of what really is the best deal before you commit.   Research the product Many shoppers admit that they don’t research the product that they buy during Black Friday for fear of losing out on the deal. Shop calmly and use reviews and price trackers to make sure you’re getting the best product instead of a dud product.   Watch out for hidden costs Unexpected extra costs may be added at the checkout to bump your price up. Some online retailers use a buy now or click and collect button. Always go into your basket and check out slowly, make sure you check your tax and shipping fees before you pay.   Know your rights Lots of consumers regret their impulse buys on Black Friday. Always check your returns policy. Buying online gives you more rights - you usually have the right to change your mind and cancel your order for up to 14 days from when you receive the goods. Make sure you keep all proofs of purchase.