One way to manage paying for holiday gifts is to put the items on layaway, reports Pamela Yip in The Dallas Morning News. “But if you decide to use layaway, be sure you understand what you're getting into,” the article notes.
“Jeannette Kopko, spokeswoman at the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan Dallas Inc., urged consumers to check the reputation of a layaway plan with her agency,” the article states. “Does the retailer or third-party layaway service have a good BBB rating? she asked.”
"When buying items on layaway, BBB advises consumers to get everything in writing,” the article notes.
In the article, Pamela Yip suggests that consumers find out how much time they have to pay for the merchandise or service. When are the payments due? What's the minimum payment required and is there a service fee for using the plan?
The article also advises, “It’s critical that you make your layaway payments on time, or your may lose the merchandise that you want to purchase.”
Customers should also find out if a refund is available if they decide they don’t want the merchandise after making some or all of the payments.
Now some stores provide online layaway services for purchasing items through the retailer's website, the article notes. And third-party businesses “have sprung up for the purpose of setting up online layaway plans to help customers buy products from retailers that don't have a layaway program.”
Under these plans, the article explains, “the consumer makes periodic payments to the third-party layaway service provider. Once the item is fully paid for, the business buys the item from the retailer and ships it to the customer.”
As with in-store layaways, know the fees charged by online layaway firms.
To see the article online (for Dallas Morning News subscribers only), go to http://www.dallasnews.com/business/personal-finance/headlines/20111104-layaway-is-one-way-to-stay-out-of-holiday-debt.ece