In this news article, MoneyMagpie’s founder, Jasmine Birtles, a consumer expert, offers our readers tips on how to avoid scammers ahead of Black Friday.
It is that time of year again that our email inboxes, our television screens and social media feeds are being bombarded with two words: BLACK FRIDAY.
As ever, businesses are promising incredible sales and bargains you cannot possibly afford to overlook.
This year, due to the rising cost of living, these promises could feel more important than ever, but you must remember that it is important to stay financially safe.
Black Friday is a phenomenon that hit our shores back in 2010 and has grown bigger every year.
In fact, 30% of all annual retail sales happen between Black Friday and Christmas: it occurs on the last Friday of November.
This year, with so many of us worrying about our finances, retailers are pushing Black Friday ‘deals’ very hard, both in-store and online.
But how do you know if you will get a real bargain rather than wasting your cash?
Although we love a good bargain, we also want to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.
So, before you head out shopping, read my four reasons to beware of Black Friday below.
Beware of brands you do not know
The big brands do not always provide the best offers.
Small retailers often jump in on the act too, and provide some really good deals. If you do, however, get tempted by an offer on a site you do not recognise, you should check its authenticity before you purchase.
Impartial reviews are available to read on sites where you can run a background company check online, which includes their credit score.
If you are buying online, always pay with a credit card or Paypal to ensure your transaction is protected.
Also, remember that Black Friday products do not guarantee extended return policies either, so if you are buying for Christmas, do check in advance.
This is especially important right now when many shops might offer a full Black Friday closing-down sale, so you will not be able to return the goods when the shop is closed permanently.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that some major card providers will reimburse you the cost difference if an advertised Black Friday price is lower than the price you recently paid for the same item.
You need to send your receipt, the ad and a claim form within 60 days of the ad’s publication.
Beware of losing money
If you are a small (or big) business taking part in the Black Friday frenzy, you could actually end up losing money.
In the last few years, customers have gone into serious spending mode online with bargain buying, and as a result, many businesses failed to cope as their websites struggled to handle the demand of traffic.
An example of this is Argos which saw its website go down for two hours in the 2014 Black Friday sales because it simply was not prepared for the high quantities of traffic.
Research by Six Degrees Group estimate that this website fault could have cost them around £5m.
Research by Deichmann in 2020 revealed that most people have not a clue when it comes to bagging a bargain, either.
Of almost 6,000 adults surveyed, only 9% worked out that a ‘buy one get one free’ offer is not as good value as a “buy one, get a discount on the second item” offer.
Make sure you are up to scratch on your maths before you make any big purchases!
So it is important if you are a small business to prepare properly to avoid losing out on revenue on this day.
You could even decide to ignore the day and do your own flash sale in December to pull in the crowds
3. Beware of scams and fraudsters
Black Friday is a great day for fraudsters and scammers to take advantage of shoppers, so make sure you are extra cautious when looking for deals.
Just because someone uses the words ‘cheap’ or ‘discount’ does not mean that it is always a good deal.
Usually, where the prices seem too good to be true, it means the goods may also be fake or faulty. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
This also means you must make sure you know the returns policy on what you are buying, especially electrical and other expensive items.
Reputable sites and retailers will have no problem being upfront about the ins and outs of their policies, so check before you buy.
Faced with the right pressures, we are all vulnerable. Fraudsters put people into what psychologists call a ‘hot state’.
This is when we think less clearly if we are eager to spend during the frenzy of deals and sales.
We tend to lose the ability to do due diligence, and the hope of getting a bargain can be a compelling lure.
As we shop online more than ever, it is easy to fall victim to a scam. Make sure to beware of scam emails, too.
Fraudsters will send emails under the guise of being a popular high-street retailer offering amazing discounts.
Clicking on the links may leave you vulnerable to fraud. Always check the email address from which a message is sent, to make sure it is legit.
Beware of impulse buying
Do you actually NEED the thing that is on an amazing Black Friday deal? Or do you just WANT it?
Black Friday can offer significant savings on really good products, so make a list of what you know you need or want to buy as gifts, and scope out the costs and where the goods are available beforehand.
It is easy to get lost in the excitement of the sales on Black Friday, so carefully consider if you are making a sensible purchase that you are going to get use from.
This is important even if you do not go into the shops but just go online.
It is still too easy to be sucked into buying something you do not need or want.
Research your items in advance, too – so you can spot a fake discount!
Of course, you might get some good discounts if you have researched the items beforehand and know how much they should be.
But it is all too easy to be made to think you are getting a bargain when you are not.
If you then look around at the ‘offers’ on this item and find a genuine price drop in the sale, then go for it, but otherwise, I would just ignore the so-called Black Friday deals.
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