Black Friday is here again and with it, many shopper ares keen to get their hands on thousands of online ‘bargains,’ or fear missing out.
Although people won’t be able to hit the shops as they would normally, the online event is likely to be bigger than ever.
Many are predicted to do their Christmas shopping while prices are low as well as treat themselves to a lockdown present or two.
In fact, Britons will spend an average of £172 each on 27 November with 37 per cent saying they are planning to spend more this year than last, according to data from Nationwide Building Society.
Online bargains? Although people can’t shop in person, Black Friday will still be a huge event this year online
However, it can sometimes be difficult to know whether consumers are truly getting a good bargain as prices and percentages can be misleading.
Natalie Hitchins, Which? head of home products and services, said: ‘Black Friday is all about retailers whipping shoppers into a frenzy in an effort to get us to part with our cash.
‘Don’t get duped by all the dodgy deals. Do a bit of research first to make sure you are getting a good price and don’t be afraid to hold off – you might find prices get slashed again before Christmas.’
She points to Which? research that shows only one per cent of deals are cheapest on the day itself, so there is no need to buy on impulse.
To help consumers navigate Black Friday, This is Money, with the help of Resolver, Which? and Hitachi Personal Finance, have put together a list of tips to help shoppers find out whether they are truly getting a genuinely good deal or not – and what your rights are.
1. Start early: Many businesses launch deals early in an attempt to spread out demand and avoid their systems becoming overloaded.
Take some time to have a look around for the items on your wish list and to find the best deal early to make sure they aren’t already sold out by the time Black Friday hits.
2. Make the most of loyalty perks: A large chunk of retailers often offer their members or those with loyalty cards exclusive offers or early access to deals.
Signing up for a loyalty membership is usually free and very simple to do, and it’s this time of year when the persistent newsletters and emails tipping you off about the best bargains will come in handy.
3. Social media: Many brands will be advertising their deals on social media in the lead up to Black Friday. Some may even offer exclusive deals to their followers.
If you have the option to follow local stores, this may mean you can enjoy deals exclusive only to individual shops.
4. Abandoned basket discounts: Doing almost a dummy run of buying the products you want can be hugely beneficial, not just in terms of streamlining your shopping, but can lead to retailers offering targeted discounts to items left in your online shopping basket.
Try bundling together everything you want but leave at the checkout stage, you may find you receive an email from the retailer offering you specific deals without having to endure any stress.
Using a price tracker tells you a product’s price history so you know if it is a good deal or not
5. Price comparison: Just like the big comparison sites, price comparison sites give you a snapshot of what certain goods cost at that moment in time so you can see which retailer has them on sale at the best price.
6. Price trackers: These websites monitor prices over a year so you can see the highest and lowest they’ve been priced over a period of time.
Websites such as Pricerunner, PriceSpy and CamelCamelCamel will tell you a product’s price history.
7. RRP: Check out the Recommended Retail Price on the manufacturer’s website. These are often artificially higher so the retailer can discount, but it is a good yardstick to measure what goods are ‘worth’.
Which? found a couple of Black Friday ‘offers’ in 2015 where Argos was selling the product for more than the RRP, despite claiming it was a discount.
8. Compare and contrast: This is the most basic check you can do.
Which? said it has often found that more than one shop will sell a product at a similar price, but only one claims that the price is a special offer.
For example, if four shops are selling the same washing machine for £250, but only one is claiming it’s a special offer at ‘Now £250, was £300’, it’s a pretty good indicator that the price is not a particularly special deal.
Of course, if you’re happy to pay £250 for that particular washing machine, that’s fine. But don’t snap it up thinking you’re getting a bargain.
9. Don’t be fooled by the timer: Businesses aren’t supposed to say if there are ‘only two items left at this price’ but most of them do.
Put the goods in your basket but do your research before committing.
Watch out for any charges for items bought from other countries as exchange rates will apply
10. Check out review sites – but be cautious: Working out if reviews are genuine is becoming increasingly difficult.
Bear in mind that some firms offer vouchers or cash for reviews when you get the parcel. Look at a wider spread of reviews not just the five and one star ones.
11. Be wary of ‘was’ prices: Notes such as ‘was £100, now £50’ are abundant on Black Friday. But don’t let these ‘anchor prices’ mislead you.
Retailers shout about savings – often in red to grab attention – as a way of influencing customers and they can be quite misleading.
When Which? looked at items on special offer across major retailers for the first half of 2020, it found that several products were listed at their lower price for longer than they were at their full ‘was’ price.
It has also found retailers using old RRPs as ‘was’ prices, so they reflect the value of the item when it was first released, not its current value.
Amazon also displays every price reduction as if it was a promotion, so even a price drop as small as 1p will be flagged as a discount.
12. Be cautious paying in instalments: Virtually every UK based retailer now offers you the option of taking out credit at the till or splitting your bill into chunks. Many also give you the option to ‘try before you buy’.
Be cautious of these deals. If you find you’re unable to pay, you could end up with a debt collector. And if you don’t return goods on time you could face a hefty bill and a load of goods you don’t want.
13. Buying abroad: Watch out for any charges for items purchased from other countries.
The exchange rate will be applied when the retailer processes the transaction so bear in mind the ‘estimates’ on websites aren’t guaranteed.
Bear in mind that international shipping charges have changed significantly in recent years.
Items that might seem a bargain in the USA will now have a hefty charge for UK delivery. Your rights with returns and rip-offs diminish considerably too.
It is important to know your consumer rights, including what to do if an item is faulty
Your consumer rights
We reveal what your rights are should something go wrong with a purchase this Black Friday.
If you change your mind about a purchase: If you buy online, unless it’s bespoke, made to measure or you’ve broken a digital or hygiene seal, by law you will get an automatic 14-day cooling off period.
This starts the day after you receive your order, and there doesn’t need to be anything wrong with the item for you to get a refund.
If you buy something in person, shops aren’t legally required to accept returns for unwanted goods. Despite this, the shop may choose to have its own returns policy. If it does, they must honour it, so it’s worth checking your receipt.
If you’re worried your purchase is faulty: If something’s gone wrong with an item you’ve bought, you may be entitled to a refund.
Legally, you will have rights if you bought an item that is broken or damaged, unusable, not what was advertised or doesn’t match the seller’s description without knowing.
However, you will only have 30 days to return something that’s faulty with the guarantee of getting your money back.
Your rights don’t end after 30 days, though after this period the retailer doesn’t necessarily have to refund you, instead they have the option of repairing or replacing the faulty product.
If there’s a problem with your delivery: With more people buying online, more people are experiencing delivery problems. Just under half of UK adults have had a parcel delivery problem since the first lockdown in March.
If you bought something to be delivered, it’s the seller’s responsibility to make sure the item is delivered to you. If the seller used a delivery company, they should chase the company to find out what’s happened to your order – it’s not your responsibility.