Layaway making comeback at some stores
HOUSTON You don't have to physically visit the store. You can layaway online. We checked out a couple of sites to see how they work and the fees involved. The idea of layaway is a foreign concept to some shoppers. Some younger shoppers like Rebekah Smith don't know how layaway works. "I think I have heard it before but I didn't know what it actually meant," she said. Layaway is a way to purchase an item without paying the entire cost at once. The items are stored at the store until the entire amount is paid. Just a handful of stores still offer layaway. Toys-R-Us and Sears are a couple of examples. "Layaways are coming back and that's good," shopper Cassie McClung said. Sears brought back their layaway program a couple of years ago in response to customers' demand for big ticket items like TVs, appliances even back-to-school shopping. "It's beneficial to customers that don't want to open up Sears accounts or any credit cards," Sears employee Ann Duff said. At Sears you can layaway online. There is a $5 fee, and you must put 20 percent down. Typically, you have 8 to 12 weeks to pay off entire amount. "I love that idea," shopper Ellie Raybold said. A couple of websites offer layaway to its customers. The first site: layaway.com. We found this site offers layaway for mostly electronic items. For example, a Bose Sounddock Digital Music System costs $599.99. Layaway.com gives you six months to pay, plus shipping. The shipping cost is $13.88 so our monthly payment for the next six months is $102.31 and no extra fees are involved. The second site we checked out is called elayaway.com. This site has partnered up with several retailers like Best Buy and Apple. This site has categories from baby gear to handbags, even cruise line travel vouchers. But at elayaway.com, the site charges a fee of 1.9 percent to 3 percent on each transaction. At this site, you can set it up to pay in as little as three months and as much as 13. Take for example a set of ½-carat diamond stud earrings that retail $795. Our fee to layaway is $16. If we choose to pay off the entire amount, our total monthly payment is $87.49. The bottom line is even with fees, layaway is almost always more affordable than the interest rates on most credit cards. Be sure to read the fine print before you make any layaway transaction. You could be charged a late payment fee or if you cancel, there could be a fee tacked on.