BBB: Understand layaway agreements before you buy

(Source: Stock image/Pixabay)
(Source: Stock image/Pixabay)(Stock image/Pixabay)
Updated: Nov. 27, 2018 at 11:33 AM CST
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(KFVS) - The Better Business Bureau recommends customers read and understand a store’s layaway contract before agreeing.

“For some consumers, using layaway is a great alternative to a credit card,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB St. Louis president and CEO. “But it’s imperative that customers understand the layaway agreement before they sign up.”

In-store layaway programs vary. Some stores provide layaway services for items bought through the retailer’s website. Others only allow layaway for items in stock in a store. Some charge a minimum payment to open a layaway account or terminate it. Some allow buyers to use coupons, but only on items that haven’t been marked down or put on clearance.

According to the BBB, some third-party businesses have also sprung up, offering layaway plans for items from retailers that don’t have their own layaway program. Customers make periodic payments to 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 recommends you get everything in writing and offers the following checklist of things to 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?
  • Is there a fee if I decide I no longer want the item?
  • What happens if the item goes on sale after I’ve put it on layaway?
  • Does the retailer on third-party layaway service have a good BBB rating?

Layaway service lets a buyer space out payments on an item over time without using a credit card. A buyer claims the item only after the full purchase price has been paid.

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