Your merchandise might not be held on-site
Some retailers wheel layaway items into the back room, where they stay until they are either claimed or returned to the shelves. Others store the merchandise off-site.
Find out where your selections will be kept and how long the store has to produce them after you make the final payment, says Katherine Hutt, a Council of Better Business Bureaus spokeswoman.
This is important because if you are putting items on layaway and need them by a specific date, such as Christmas Eve, you need to know the merchandise will be ready when you are.
With some stores, the minute you make the last payment, you can pick up your item and take it home. Other retailer layaway plans will allow a period of time between the date you pay off the item and the date the store must make it available to you -- often to arrange for transferring merchandise from where it's being warehoused. For example, Wal-Mart makes all layaway items stored remotely available for pickup after final payment within 10 days, or no later than Dec. 13, 2013.
Before you put any items on layaway, be sure to find out where your items will be held and whether there's a delay after paying for and retrieving the item.