Make Light Work of Black Friday

Black Friday is coming around again, that day in the calendar which marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.

Black Friday is 24th November this year, but are there really bargains to be had? Last year a Which? investigation into Black Friday revealed that 49% of products on offer were actually cheaper in the months before or after Black Friday and the prices it checked last year showed that only 8% of the Black Friday deals were actually the lowest prices. In September Argos was lambasted for its 3 for 2 toy offer where many of the toys worked out cheaper if you bought them the day before.

So how careful do we need to be of Black Friday? Are there really bargains to be had or is it all hype?

1) Write a list! Write down all the things you need to buy. This can include: the people for whom you have to buy presents, possible ideas and a budget. This will help you not go over a budget if you are easily carried away with possible bargains and gives you choices.

2) Do your research. Armed with your list, look up the likely stores for those people/items. Make a list of the prices that you find.

3) Use comparison websites. Do an Internet search on specific items and use sites which will compare prices. You may find that there are other stores which stock the items you are after and some may have a better deal regardless of Black Friday!

4) Get right ahead! Put items in baskets! Go online and put things in baskets and don’t checkout. Make a note of what stores you have done this with! Then when Black Friday comes take a look at all the online baskets and see who has what for the cheapest. This way, not only will you have done all your research but you’ll be ahead of others shopping that day for popular items likely to go out of stock!

5) Black Friday isn’t just about gifts for others! Often people will say it’s only a bargain if you need it. Twaddle. We don’t need half the clothes and shoes etc. that we own, but if we see a pair of boots reduced it makes the purchase far more attractive. So, have an idea of what items you would like for yourself, if they are reduced.

6) Check for further discounts. Internet search your items with phrases like “discount codes” “discount offers” and “vouchers” to see if you can get more discounts. There are a number of sites that provide discount codes for numerous stores.

7) Check out Zeek*. You can buy and sell gift cards on Zeek. Choose from a range of monetary value gift cards for hundreds of stores with varying discounts.

8) Black Friday is not just for Christmas. Many retailers spread their deals over the month and others throughout the year. The idea is that consumers will spend the same amount over a year whether the majority is across all year or concentrated over a few weeks. So don’t just look for bargains on Black Friday. There will be Cyber Monday and places like Amazon have daily deals which also need to be checked. Use the Camel Camel Camel website which is a price tracker that provides price drop alerts and price history for products sold by Amazon.

9) Emails and social media. Sign up to newsletters now. You can always unsubscribe later but often newsletters are the best way to be the first to learn of any discounts and offers. “Like” Facebook pages and follow on Twitter as many retailers will announce their offers and discount codes through these methods too. Follow money bloggers who will frequently share discounts and deals. Join forums and money saving groups if you really want to get everything going and check with others if so-called deals are really deals. You could set up a separate email account for all these emails and then allocate some time each day to look at just the deals!

10) Store versus shops. If you intend to go to the stores on Black Friday take your list with you and check the online prices either with that or on the phone. Then you have the double whammy, as sometimes items are in stock online only or in store only.

11) List upcoming events. Think of future, parties etc. You can pick up some bargain toys for children’s parties that you know you will have in the year and just put them away. (But remember toys will be discounted a lot in the run up to Christmas and after Christmas sales too).

12) Avoid the mobs. Possibly impossible?! Certainly if you are setting out early for certain stores! But this is where you need a) your list so you don’t get carried away and b) to be sure that that store will have items you want. Remember too that offers written on doors are often just a way to get you in and there may be limited stock!

13) Take care on seasonal items. Things like Winter coats are likely to be in the sales and discounted further when retailers want to get rid of their stock and Christmas decorations will still be cheaper after the event!

14) Use Cashback sites. Sites like Topcashback*, Quidco*, Free Fivers*, Kidstart* (Kidstart cashback goes to your nominated child’s bank account). Others that I’ve not used are  Imutual, Give or take and there are others. They all provide cashback when you go through their sites and make purchases from the stores listed. Check them all, as they have different retailers and different percentages! Do this before filling your online baskets so you’re all set to go! Most have apps so you can do this whilst out shopping when you see a bargain and can order and get it delivered instead! Don’t rely on this though as there may be terms and conditions that you miss (such as using vouchers) negating the cashback.

15) Make sure that a promise is a promise. Some places have a price promise which is great. But read the small print! Some stores such as John Lewis won’t match an online price, for example. Others will only match the price if it was on sale that exact same day and most, if not all, will tell you it has to be exactly the same item/bundle. So, exactly the same colour, make, model, free gift, warranty etc. (Although remember your consumer rights provide more protection than any “free warranty”).

16) Check the model. Black Friday is usually good for getting the latest technology, but check the release dates for the next model. Will you still want that ‘phone or laptop if the newer version comes out a week later?

17) Stay up late! If you have done all your preparation, be ready to go online just after midnight on Black Friday morning, so you get your bargains before things go out of stock.

18) Security. Check that the site is secure and bona fide to prevent any fraud. Don’t just click on the first site that comes up in a search engine query unless you’re sure where you’re going.

19) Add ons. A lot of the items may need additional things such as batteries. Don’t get these at the same time, you will more than likely get these cheaper when you do research on that at a later date!

20) Articles. Every so often Google “Black Friday offers 2017”! This will bring up store pages and online newspaper articles which reveal where some of the best bargains are.

Remember your consumer rights are just the same when buying items in the sales.

Should you have need to complain see Top 20 Tips How to Complain!

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Making Light Work of Black Friday

Making Light Work of Black Friday
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A recent Which? investigation into Black Friday revealed that 49% of products on offer were actually cheaper in the months before or after Black Friday.

Here are ten top tips for making the most of Black Friday this year.

1) Do you really need it?
Last year there were numerous examples of people arguing/fighting over products and then saying they didn’t know why they had bought what they had! Be prepared and whilst you can be calm and not be taken over by the moment make a list of things you want/need and/or would consider buying and add to it as you think of them. Use comparison websites and check regularly for prices and then on Black Friday check again and work out who is cheaper on the day and if it likely to be cheaper somewhere else before or after Black Friday. Keep your list of stockists, dates and prices, if you’re super organised use a spreadsheet!

2) Don’t get carried away
Have a price in mind for the amount(s) you are prepared to spend on an individual or total items. It is easy to get carried away especially in store as retailers put out items to entice you to spend more. That’s when you are most likely to buy things you don’t want or need so keep an eye on your list of items and prices!

3) Do your research and shopping online
Where possible do your research and shopping online. You are less likely to get caught up in the heat of the moment and if you are attracted to a bargain as a Christmas present, for example, you will have time to think about it before purchasing.

4) Remember, Black Friday is not just for Christmas
Or something like that. Many retailers spread their deals over the month and others throughout the year, in the belief that consumers will spend the same amount over a year whether the majority is across all year or concentrated over a few weeks.

5) Make sure that a promise is a promise
Some places have a price promise which is great. But read the small print! Some stores such as John Lewis won’t actually match an online price. Others will only match the price if it was on sale that exact same day and most, if not all, will tell you it has to be exactly the same item/bundle. So, exactly the same colour, make, model, free gift, warranty etc. (Although remember your consumer rights provide more protection than any “free warranty”).

6) Exercise your rights if needed
Under the Consumer Rights Act (CRA) 2015, the item must be of satisfactory quality, match the description be fit for purpose and last a reasonable length of time. This is the same for goods in sales, flash or otherwise. If it’s less than 30 days since the point of purchase you are entitled to a full refund, a repair or replacement thereafter. (But you can still accept this before the 30 days if you want to keep that bargain price!)

7) Buy wisely and know what to do if you change your mind
You are not entitled to a refund if you simply change your mind, so buy wisely! However, when buying off premises (such as online) you have 14 days from when you receive the item(s) in which to change your mind under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013. Check the terms and conditions for returns though as you may have to pay return postage if the item is not in breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

8) Transfer your consumer rights if it’s a present
Get a gift receipt where possible. The recipient can then use this if necessary. Remember though that the 30 day rule applies from the date of purchase not the date you give the present!

9) Don’t forget Cyber Monday
Cyber Monday follows Black Friday. There will be more bargains to be had. Also remember that bargains won’t stop after this time. In fact, as retailers reassess sales there will be many reductions on a wider variety of goods over a longer period of time.

10) Watch out for extras
Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 retailers are not allowed to charge you for items they put in your online shopping basket or that you have bought as a result of a pre-ticked box. It is still happening, so keep an eye out for this and report them if and when you see it!

Press Release: Consumer Champion brings light to Black Friday

BFBlack Friday started in America in the early 2000s, found its way over here through Amazon and is now everywhere. However, last year saw near riots in some British supermarkets as people fought over items that they often felt later they didn’t even want or need!

So how can you ensure that you don’t get sucked in to things just because of the discount and be stuck with it, or make sure that you do get the best discount on what you do actually want? Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow, blogger and author of the bestseller How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! has some tips.

1) Make a list
Start a list of things you want and/or would consider buying and add to it as you think of things. Have a list of likely stockists and current prices. Use comparison websites to find these. Then do it again on Black Friday and find out if anyone has it in the Black Friday deal. Remember that some stores may be cheaper than another’s Black Friday deal. This preparation will stand you in good stead when you come to shop when the day comes as it will be quicker to go through stores.

2) A promise is a promise?
Remember that some stores have a price promise but this doesn’t always mean online as well, it could be just in store. For example, John Lewis will not price match online only retailers or mail order companies.

3) Not just one day
Don’t look for bargains just on Black Friday, many retailers are spreading their deals and have been running them throughout November such as Amazon.

4) Know your rights
Under the Consumer Rights Act (CRA) 2015, the item must be of satisfactory quality, match the description be fit for purpose and last a reasonable length of time. This is the same for goods in sales, flash or otherwise.

5) Get a gift receipt
Under the CRA, you have 30 days to get a refund if the item is in breach of the Act after this time the retailer can insist on repair or replacement but you have up to 6 years to claim if considered reasonable. So if the item is for a gift, get a gift receipt or let the recipient know that you have the receipt should anything go wrong.

6) You can change your mind online
You are not entitled to a refund if you simply change your mind so buy wisely! However, when buying off premises (such as online) you have 14 days from when you receive the item(s) in which to change your mind under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013. Check the terms and conditions for returns though as you may have to pay return postage if the item is not in breach of the CRA.

7) Spread your risk
Sometimes shopping early will get you some fantastic deals, but as some stores start, other companies may follow suit and match price or reduce prices further so there is no ideal time to buy!

8) Budget carefully
Have a price in mind for the amount(s) you are prepared to spend on an individual or total items. It is easy to get carried away especially in store as retailers put out items to entice you to spend more and that’s when you are most likely to buy things you don’t want or need! Keep an eye on your list of items and prices!

9) Cyber Monday follows Black Friday
Don’t forget Cyber Monday! There will be more bargains to be had. Also remember that bargains won’t stop after this time, in fact as retailers reassess sales there will be many reductions on a wider variety of goods over a longer period of time.

10) Watch out for extras
Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 retailers are not allowed to charge you for items they put in your online shopping basket or that you have bought as a result of a pre-ticked box. It is still happening, so keep an eye out for this and report them when and if you see it!

The top 10 tips for winning in the sales

So, Christmas nearly upon on us and Boxing Day sales start. Making sure you know how to get the best deals, use your time wisely and knowing what to do when things go wrong will all help you grab the best bargains.

1) Plan what you want. Make a list of things you would quite like to buy. Don’t fall foul of the pack mentality that we saw on Black Friday. People fighting to grab the “bargains” and then saying “I didn’t even want a telly”.  It is not a bargain if you don’t really want it.

2) Make a list of the various stores you are likely to find those bargains. If you are going out to shop work out the best route to do to save you the most time and allows you to return to shops which you think you are most likely to want to return back having seen other stores.

3) Do your online research. Using your list, look up all the stores likely to have sales, mooch around the sites making a note of things that you would like if they were in the sale. Even put them in your basket so they are in there ready before other people if you intend to start at 12.00am on Boxing Day!

4) Think about next Christmas and presents that you will need to buy. Things like jewellery, toys, games and toiletries are always discounted everywhere and don’t have a best before date!

5) When shopping online use your list of items and compare prices. Just because it is discounted it does not mean that it is the best price. Use comparison websites too, or simply put the item into Google and see all the places the item is also sold.

6) When purchasing items online you now have 14 days in which you can change your mind and return the item under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013  if the item is faulty the retailer has to pay for return postage. If you just change your mind then it will be down to the retailer’s Terms and Conditions which will be listed on the website.

7) Watch out for delivery costs. These might make the items less of a bargain compared with another site. Some of the bigger more well known stores will offer free delivery for orders over a certain amount. Simply order something else to reach the free delivery amount, such as a gift you can put away or something you know you will need in the future and bingo, free delivery. Or use the “free delivery to store” option, you’ll still get to the bargains in time but should have a few days grace in which to pick up the item(s).

8) Whether purchasing items in the sale or not, if you return an item because you changed your mind or it is an unwanted gift then the retailer does not need to refund the item. (Many of the bigger retailers will, however usually by voucher and at the cheapest price the item has been sold at). However if the item is faulty, unless the fault was pointed out at point of purchase (e.g. this jumper is discounted because of a mark on the sleeve) then you are entitled to refund, replacement or repair. See here for more details.

9) You do not need to have a receipt but you do need a proof of purchase so a credit card bill for example is fine if you are returning goods.

10) If the retailer does not keep to delivery deadlines then you are entitled to redress.

Good luck in your bargain hunting and don’t be fobbed off when complaining! Lots of tips around the blog and of course in the book!

PS Don’t forget to use a cashback site when shopping online. The best I have found is Topcashback. To be transparent – that is a link that is mine and if you register from that I will get £5 or something when you have earned your first £10. Don’t forget when you register to get your own “Tell a friend link” to share with others.