Be Wary of Credit Spending With Catalogues This Christmas

December 5, 2013

There’s nothing quite like Christmas to send people into manic spending sprees; reducing ordinary folk into shopaholics with reckless abandonment!

This year is no different and at times it’s hard not to be lured in by catalogue websites in particular. Companies such as Very, Littlewoods, JD Williams and Woolworths often prepare for the festive season with hugely enticing promotions and customer offers such as ‘buy now pay later’ deals and interest free credit accounts at the click of a mouse.

A quick glance at the comments section on a popular money saving website shows users demonstrating their surprise at being able to secure huge amounts of credit, sometimes without any checks.  One user in particular was astounded at opening an account with a well-known catalogue company and seeing £3,000 credit available once logged in.

For some people who can afford to repay for their purchases quickly, this can be an effective shopping method. However for many, it’s often a recipe for disaster.

Whether you’re currently in debt or not, our message is to tread carefully this Christmas – particularly when faced with numerous, tempting store offers. It might be the season of good will but is it really worth getting (further) into debt for?

A Money Advice Trust spokesperson commented:

“When buying from a catalogue, many people don’t realise they are signing a consumer credit agreement, which means the debt is enforceable in the courts. Additionally, many people don’t realise that missing a payment on a catalogue debt will usually invalidate any special low or 0% interest deal.”

National Debtline, which is run by the charity, received a record 25,235 calls about catalogue debt in 2012, up 10% compared with a year earlier. That was nearly double the number received in 2007.

“As people are increasingly unable to access traditional forms of credit they appear to be turning to more expensive alternatives such as catalogues and payday loans, which are often more readily available via the internet,” they added.

“Many people don’t consider debts built up on catalogues to be as important as other forms of credit such as credit cards and loans. In fact, catalogues are a form of high-cost credit that often carry high default charges and can leave people with substantial amounts to repay.”

John Baird

Insolvency Adviser

Tel: 0800 063 9250

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