THE difficult economic situation does not permit many people to buy brand new items for their homes.
As a result, many people who want certain household items often resort to buying these from a garage sale or other outlets selling second-hand items.
While some of the second-hand items are available at a much lower price than the brand new ones, there are certain things which the buyers have to keep in mind.
According to the Consumer Council of Fiji, second-hand items are regulated under the Second Hand Dealers Act (Cap 238).
But unfortunately, the council says the law does not prescribe standards of second-hand goods or prices.
The council said the Second Hand Dealers Act mostly dealt with licensing and regulating the dealers.
Council's chief executive officer Premila Kumar said other laws relating to receipts, merchantable quality, misleading information and exclusionary notices would still apply.
Mrs Kumar says pre-disclosure of information on the second-hand goods must be provided to the consumer before he or she decides to buy the product.
She said the council had not received any complaints about the items sold in second-hand shops.
But, she said, concerns had been raised by people on the pricing and quality.
"We mostly receive queries on the high prices of second-hand items.
"The council advises consumers to choose carefully because second-hand items are not new items and therefore the durability or life of a product can be a problem."
Mrs Kumar said people should check the items carefully before buying, and check other shops for similar items, and keep their receipts properly.
"Although it is true that consumers cannot expect the same quality as that of a new product, nevertheless a limited warranty or assurance for further repairs is desirable to protect the consumer interest because after all, he/she is paying some price for such second-hand product.
"There obviously cannot be the warranty/guarantee of the manufacturer but the dealer's warranty can be provided."
Mrs Kumar said a way should be found on how consumers could be covered in the proposed Consumer Protection Act.