SHOPPERS are being urged to watch out fake deals as they gear up for the biggest shopping event on the year.
Which? Says that 92% of Black Friday deals are not what they seem, with many bargain items actually the same price or cheaper BEFORE the big discount day.
These findings include washing machines, soundbars and TVs from retailers such as Amazon, AO, John Lewis and others.
Out of 184 products, only 17 of the deals were not “fake.”
To help bargain hunters this Black Friday, we’ve put together an explainer on how to avoid fake discounts with top tips from experts.
How to spot a fake bargain on Black Friday
Set price alerts
Pricing specialists at idealo say that it’s always worth setting price alerts on products you're looking for.
“Some shopper price comparison sites have free tools that you can take advantage of,” a spokesperson says.
“They allow you to set price alerts or monitor the price history to identify the best discount.”
You can also use comparison sites to spot the difference between retailer prices.
This is a good way to see where the product is the cheapest.
Comparethemarket also suggests checking in on social media for your favourite retailer deals.
“Bookmark their sites, download their apps and sign up for their emails,” says James Padmore, head of money at comparethemarket.com.
“That way, you’ll be the first to know about Black Friday deals and offers.”
There is always a temptation to buy something on impulse, especially during a sale.
Which? says that it’s best to “work out what you need or want to buy” ahead of time.
Also, decide on how much you’re prepared to spend before you start shopping in the sales, it advises.
The consumer champion also says that consumers shouldn’t worry about missing out on a good offer.
Its research suggests that shoppers might be better off waiting until after Black Friday.
Always check in-store
Something that everyone seems to agree on is that staying online for Black Friday might cost you.
“Whether shopping in-store or online, don’t take the first deal you see,” says idealo.
“Only by comparing prices both in-store and online can you have the confidence that you are not being stung.”
You can always ask the store if they’ll honour the online price if you find the high street to be more expensive.
“Haggling can pay,” says comparethemarket.com. “And if you’re shopping online, you can do it through live chat.
“Always have a price in mind and be prepared to walk away if you can’t get what you want.”
Shoppers can also be in two places at once thanks to mobile phones.
“As long as you have a data connection on your smartphone you can be in Currys and on Amazon at the same time,” explains Which?
“Having access to websites means you can reference prices to make sure you're getting the best deal in store.”
Know your rights
All our pricing experts say the same thing – make sure you know the returns policies or check for hidden costs.
“For those buying in store, check the returns policy as these vary,” says Which?
“Buying online gives consumers more rights: depending on the goods they buy, they usually have 14 days from the date of delivery to cancel an order and a further 14 days to return it for a refund.”
The organisation also says that customers should be wary of claims such as “was £100, now £50.”
“Retailers shout about savings – often in red to grab attention – as a way of influencing customers and they can be quite misleading,” it says.
Black Friday impulse buying can also mean that shoppers miss hidden costs or pricing terms.
“Don’t be fooled by sales terminology such as 2-4-1 or by-one-get-one-free,” warns idealo.
“Check whether you really need another item, and calculate if it’s worth the cost.”
The price comparison also advises that consumers should always check for shipping fees.
“Always check the cost of shipping to avoid any hidden add-ons and read through the returns policy if you’re likely to impulse buy,” it explains.
How to spot a scam
Research from comparethemarket.com shows that over a third (36%) of people in the UK are planning to buy on Black Friday and on Cyber Monday.
Almost half of these transactions (47%) are expected to be online.
However, the price comparison website says that in the past 12 months nearly 5 million consumers have been a victim of online fraud.
Action Fraud advises that consumers choose where they shop when shopping online.
If they're not sure about a website, the organisation says that shoppers should do research first, looking online for reviews.
"If you’re purchasing an item from an online marketplace, you can view the seller’s feedback history before going ahead with the purchase," it says on its website.
Bargain hunters should always use a payment method that offers buyer protection, it advises.
This can include a credit card – most providers will help consumers get their money back if it never arrives or is faulty or damaged.
Some scammers will use phishing emails or texts to catch bargain hunters out.
A phishing scam is when someone – a scammer – masquerades as a company to get personal information such as credit card details.
"If you’re unsure, don't use the link and visit the website directly instead," says Action Fraud.
"If you receive an email you’re not quite sure about, you can report it by forwarding the email to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service at [email protected]"
Text messages can be forwarded to 7726.
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