Thinking About Layaway, BBB Offers Advice

This is a busy week for shopping and the Better Business Bureau would like to share some advice on layaways.

Layaway services can be a great alternative to a credit card, but it's imperative that customers understand the fine print and know what to expect.

As a complement to in-store layaway, some retailers provide online layaway services for purchasing items through the retailer's website. Third-party businesses also have sprung up, offering layaway plans online between customers and retailers that don't have their own layaway program. Customers make periodic payments to the 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, the BBB advises consumers to get everything in writing and offers the following checklist of questions 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, and 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?
· What happens if the item goes on sale after I've put it on layaway?
· Does the retailer or third-party layaway service have a good BBB rating?