Buying a hamper

How do hampers stack up?

CupboardHamper companies encourage you to sign up to buy a package of goods that you pay for over time and receive on a set date.

These companies now sell much more than food hampers. They also sell a range of items like electrical equipment, furniture, gift cards and sporting goods.

Find out the pros and cons of buying from hamper companies.

How hamper packages work

You choose a package of goods that you pay for through instalments.  You receive your goods at a later date, after you have made all of the payments.  A lot of these arrangements are actually lay-bys.

Hamper packages can seem convenient and the process to sign up is easy but make sure you know what is involved and when the payments need to be made. Also watch out for salespeople who pressure you.

Are they value for money?

You might be surprised to know that the goods in the hamper can be much cheaper if you buy them from your local retail outlet or supermarket.

To check this, add up all of the payments for the hamper you want to buy. You might also be charged a delivery fee, so add that in too, and compare the total cost to the cost of buying the goods yourself.

Cancelling your hamper

If you decide to cancel the hamper you can be charged a fee - sometimes up to 50% of what you have already paid.

If you are buying your hamper under a lay-by agreement you have the right to cancel the agreement at any time before the goods are delivered to you.  If you cancel your lay-by the seller must refund you all of your payment, minus a reasonable termination charge.

Case study: Jo buys a hamper

hampers-pageJo is turning 70 in December next year and she wants to have a big party. Her sister said she should get a hamper so she won't have to do the shopping herself. Jo looked at some hampers and decided to
get one that would cost her $11.92 a week for 24 weeks or a total of $286. This sounded like a good price that she could afford per week.

As a special treat, Jo took her granddaughter to the movies and spent the money she had intended to leave in her account for the weekly hamper payment. When the hamper company tried to take the money out of Jo's account, her account was empty.

The hamper company charged Jo $3.50 for missing the payment, and increased the amount she had to pay each month to make sure she had paid for the whole hamper before her birthday.

This meant Jo's weekly payment was now $12.40. Jo's bank also charged her a default fee for the failed payment. The fee was $15 for every day Jo's account was overdrawn. Jo's account was overdrawn for four days costing her $60.  

When the hamper arrived just before Jo's birthday she decided she didn't like some of the products in the hamper. Because she had defaulted on one payment Jo ended up paying almost $350 plus
delivery costs.

Jo added up the cost of buying these items at the local supermarket and realised she could have got them for $215 and could have chosen exactly what she wanted.

Even if Jo had made all of her payments on time, the hamper still would have cost her $71 more than buying the same goods from the supermarket.

Here is what the hamper cost Jo:

What Jo paid for How much it cost
Original cost of hamper $11.92 x 24 weeks = $286
Missed payment fees $3.50
Overdrawn fees $60
Final cost of the hamper $349.50 plus delivery fees
Cost of the same items in the supermarket $215

Will you get your hamper on time?

Be sure to check with the hamper company that you will get your hamper on the day it is promised in the contract you sign with them.

Some people have told their local fair trading agency that the hamper they bought, arrived late or did not arrive at all.

Complaining about hampers

If you have questions about your consumer rights when buying a hamper, your state or territory consumer affairs agency or the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission may be able to assist you.

Buying a hamper for Christmas or Easter might sound like an easy and convenient way to get the goods you need in one go, but make sure you are aware of the extra cost of the items and what it will cost you if you decide to cancel your hamper.

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Last updated: 03 Jun 2016