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It’s time for the January sales – and to the tired shopper it seems as if the whole country is mobilised in some civil emergency, pouring along the pavements, off buses and into the shops in search of reduced goods. And inevitably everyone else is in competition with you as you swing your loaded shopping bags through the driving snow, pushing the melting slush with your boots, weariedly shlepping from one shop to another, trying to beat closing time, longing for cappuccino… does it sound familiar?

 

But although the seasonal ordeal might be draining all your energy and enthusiasm, you can still shop with confidence, knowing that the Citizens Advice helpline is there to help you if you have a consumer problem – if you need to return faulty goods, if you’ve bought something fake or counterfeit, or if something you’ve ordered hasn’t arrived.

 

The Citizens Advice consumer helpline (03454 040506) is open Monday to Friday 9 – 5 (closed bank holidays). Advisers will answer your call, explaining how you can pursue your claim. They cannot make a complaint or take legal action on your behalf but they can give you practical and impartial advice, explain the law which applies to your situation, and also pass complaints to Trading Standards for you.

 

Before you call the helpline, prepare by jotting down the factual details of your problem, such as when you paid for the item or service; how much you paid; how you paid; the seller’s name and address; and what you have done so far to resolve the issue.

 

Citizens Advice can also be contacted in person during opening hours or on Adviceline (03 444 111444). For locations of offices and opening hours see www.citizensadvice.org.uk/local/oxfordshire-south-vale