Know your rights

WITH Christmas now just a distant memory and the sales all but over, there is nothing left to do but sit back, relax and enjoy.

For those who aren't happy with what they found under the wrapping paper or picked up at the shops for a bargain price, however, the race is still not over.

Shopping can be a lot of fun, but if you don't know your rights as a consumer, it can also be a confusing and frustrating experience.

Peter Osborne, senior customer service officer for the Coffs Harbour branch of NSW Office of Fair Trading, said it was essential for people to understand their consumer rights and how to exercise them to avoid potential disputes and problems.

"Most problems can be avoided if consumers know their rights. It is also important for traders to know their rights," Mr Osborne said.

However, Mr Osborne, said there would always be those times when customer and trader would not agree, so it was important to also know where to go from there.

If you are unhappy with the goods you have bought, you should make every effort to sort out the problem directly with the trader concerned.

Make sure you have a legitimate complaint and be clear on how you would like the trader to fix the problem.

"The Fair Trading website is a great place to start. There is a lot of information on consumer and trader rights, tips to stay out of trouble and where to go for help," Mr Osborne said.

"If a consumer has a problem, the first place I'd suggest them to go is the 'problem solver' which is available on the website. Here you will find advice on handling a dispute."

Alternatively, consumers can lodge a complaint via the website or locally at the Coffs Harbour office, located in Park Avenue.

The NSW Office of Fair Trading website is

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