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Buying Electrical Appliances and Hidden Fees

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 2 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
Buying Electrical Appliances Electrical

Electrical appliances have long been brought into the home in order to make our lives easier and more enhanced. Washing machines, dishwashers, televisions and refrigerators are just a few of the large electrical appliances accessible to most consumers, and understandably these consumers are looking for the best possible deals.

Occasionally though, the price on the label in the shop or on the online store is not always the final price that a consumer will pay. Hidden fees can crop up, boosting the final price and perhaps leaving customers feeling less than impressed with the price of their purchase. If you're looking to buy a newfangled electrical appliance, make sure you know how to spot a genuinely good deal that includes all necessary 'supplementary' costs.

VAT and vEMC

One of the most common 'hidden' charges associated with buying electrical appliances, is the "extra" cost of value added tax. In the UK, by law retailers are obliged to display final prices inclusive of VAT. However, one shady tactic that may be employed is draw attention to the price exclusive of VAT, and then adding what may as well amount to a footnote that displays the real cost underneath, or simply adding the phrase "+VAT".

Another extra cost that may be applied to the actual cost of the appliance is something known as vEMC. vEMC stands for visible Environmental Management Charge, and is implemented to help the retailer cover the cost of recycling. This charge should always be included in the final cost of the appliance and must never exceed the actual real cost of recycling the appliance and the 21% VAT.

Delivery and Restocking

Hidden fees can also come in the guise of shipping or delivery costs. These charges can sometimes significantly increase the final price that the consumer pays, especially when suppliers implement different delivery 'zone' charges, rather than a flat rate. The delivery price should be declared before the final purchase is made, but not all retailers are exactly forthcoming in clearly advertising their delivery prices to the consumer. When shopping online however, retailers are obliged by law to reveal their shipping and delivery costs and arrangements before the final payment is made. It is always worth doing your homework and finding a supplier that will offer free delivery - although in some cases this offer can also be subject to terms and conditions. Remember that if buying from overseas, not only must you make sure that the electrical appliance is compatible (e.g. plugs and voltage), but you should also check that you are aware of any customs charges that you might have to pay. These charges are not always made clear until the items have reached the sorting office or courier centre. You will not be able to access your appliances until you've covered the customs charges.

If you decide that you want to return your appliance to the supplier, you should first check that you would be offered a refund. Online shoppers are entitled to a seven-day cooling off period, in which they can change their mind about a purchase and receive a full refund. However, on the high street, if there is nothing wrong with the appliance then the supplier doesn't have to offer a refund. As a 'goodwill' gesture some suppliers will claim to provide refunds, but consumers should be wary and check the terms and conditions of returns and refunds. This is because some suppliers will operate a 'restocking' policy, whereby they charge their customers a fee for returning and restocking the items, and so a full refund will not be made.

Extended Warranties and Insurance

Many electrical appliance retailers will offer insurance policies and extended warranties once the original product's guarantee has run out. It is widely thought that although these policies and warranties do offer adequate cover, they can prove much pricier than the actual cost of repair. Consumers should firstly consider whether they actually need cover for smaller electrical items, as the cost of an extended warranty often outweighs both the price of the goods or the repairs. Some items such as televisions also rarely break down, and can be relatively inexpensive to repair.

If you would still like to take out insurance or an extended warranty on your electrical appliances it's really worth your while shopping around for the best insurance deals. Using a direct insurer will not only save you money, but you could also put several items under one policy.

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