Do not hand over your credit card until you read this:

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    Hi readers,
    I just want to wave a big red flag before any bride-to-be who may succumb to pressure sales tactics I came up against during my visit to a wedding fabric retailer in Sydney’s CBD.
    I am writing today, as I have just finalised my dealings with the retailer at the CTTT, and as tribunal members encourage people in dispute to split their losses 50:50 – which I did, at a loss of 50% of my deposit to the retailer for goods I did not receive –  I believe sounding this warning will prevent others from losing monies to unscrupulous retailers who do not care for repeat patronage to their store, as they are aware that weddings are typically planned as once in a lifetime event.
    Some red flags I would like to draw your attention to, as I have now learnt my lesson via financial loss, are:
    1. Do not take a retailers’ word that they will offer a refund on a deposit for the hold of goods. 
    — I did this, even when the terms of the refund were clearly stated verbally before myself and my shopping companion, and the retailer – when I exercised my right to request a refund as the retailer promised they would honour – completely reneged on her offer to refund my deposit, citing that they were not required to refund me under the trade practices law.
    2. Ask the retailer to adjust their general terms and conditions on their written receipt if they have verbally agreed to change their store policy at the time of agreeing to take a payment from you under changed conditions. 
    –I foolishly believed I was dealing with a forthright retailer, and signed a standard receipt which stated that ‘no refund would be offered for change of mind’. Because my perception was that the owner was agreeable to offering a refund, I signed a receipt thinking I was merely signing acknowledgement that I had paid a $500 deposit towards the holding of goods, which the receipt also stated. 
    3. Do not offer your credit card or other payment until after you have read the conditions of the transaction receipt.
    — The retailer I had dealings with was quick to process my credit card, and only handed me the written receipt (which listed the ‘no refund on change of mind’ statements) AFTER  she had processed the payment. 
    4. Because wedding related purchases are typically higher ticket prices too, DO exercise caution when handing over payment, and give yourself a day or more to remove yourself from the salesperson to think about the outlay, and an opportunity to shop around. 
    — I have not met a bride who had not experienced high pressure sales tactics. The fabric store retailer dealt me the “I only have 2-3 metres of this fabric left, but I can hold it for you if you leave a deposit” card, which she promised to refund – although not in writing. Two days after the deposit was paid, my dressmaker advised that she could source the fabric for half the cost. Can you see why retailers would resort to using high pressure tactics? As a footnote to this, I can add that wedding dress retailers also used the same tactic, advising me that wedding dresses typically need to be ordered 6 months or more in advance of your wedding date. Well guess who was calling me 6 WEEKS before my wedding to advise that they could still organise a fitting and have my dress made in time for my wedding: the same retailers who told me that I’d have to pay my deposit immediately when I saw them 5 months before my wedding date. Caught out lying, much?
    5. Look around and notice signage relating to the store’s policy on refunds. This will give you a fair idea of the type of business you are dealing with – ie. whether they are customer-centric (happy to refund / exchange under particular stated conditions) or self-centric (no refund allowed, and this sign protects me so that I will win and you will lose) . Because the outlay for your purchase is also likely to be higher than usual purchases, and you will come across high pressure salespeople, do take a photograph of any signage you see within the store, show the store manager that you have taken a record of it, and question the conditions under which they would not offer a refund, especially if you feel that the store policy does not reflect the verbal sales offer that has been made to you.
    — I noticed only upon returning to the store to negotiate a refund that signs were erected in numerous places in the store citing the store’s “no refund on change of mind” policy. If the retailer agrees to offer a refund verbally on terms you agree to, yet their store signage reflects otherwise, DO advise them that you will not agree to making a payment or placing a deposit of ANY monies unless the store receipt states that the store owner / manager has agreed to offer a refund under particular conditions, which overrides the store policy signage and store receipt terms and conditions. Also have the store owner / manager put their signature next to the the revised terms and conditions under which you have agreed to make a payment.
    6. Remember wedding industry suppliers are not a monopoly, and do not rush into finalising purchases until you have done your research with the suppliers’ competition. Also ask other people on this forum about their dealings with particular suppliers – although difficult to ask about specific names, I know, as I am not allowed to name the supplier I have had these dealings with. However I am sure that if you asked for the name of REPUTABLE suppliers for particular items you are looking to purchase, the moderators would not pull you up on recommending specific names – correct me if I am wrong? It is a shame that all Sydney wedding fabric suppliers now have to be painted with one broad brush because of the practices of one bad egg, but if it serves you to do your research before losing your cash like I did, I hope you will think critically about all the wedding suppliers you have dealings with, as the friendliest retailer can turn in to a real judas once the tables are turned and they are asked for a refund. 
    Good luck, and happy planning!
    PS. Do share this information with your girlfriends, relatives etc BEFORE they set out shopping for the big event. There were heaps of tips I got from friends that helped me save in areas where I could then spend a little more across other areas for my wedding. Eg. if they save money from a tip you suggested, they may use that money saved to upgrade the menu or wine at the reception, which you would be the beneficiary of as a guest. On the flip-side, losing money means having to cut the budget elsewhere: and so the grog and food quality are usually the easiest to adjust….

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