Black Friday ‘deals’: How sellers try to trick you into buying things

Online retailers and shops alike will claim savings of up to 50% during the Black Friday reductions. But watchdogs say the pricing on a large amount of ‘deals’ hasn’t actually changed. — dpa

The price looks like it’s been massively slashed and there’s a ticking countdown until the deal is over – you’d better act fast.

The end of November is the hardest time of the year to resist buying would-be “deals” online, as retailers pound visitors with countless Black Friday (Nov 27) offerings.

In the days running up to the discount mania, most websites with anything to sell say they have widely reduced their prices.

By all means, there are plenty of great offers out there, but experts say you’ll need a cool head to wade your way through the thousands of non-deals out there.

Unrealistic price comparisons

The amount of savings the seller says you’ll be making on the deal is usually based on a comparison with the manufacturer’s recommended retail prices. But this rarely corresponds to the usual sale price, even at launch. To find out what you’re really saving, you’ll need to search online and on other platforms.

Watchdogs like those at Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advice centre say that retailers will often raise their prices a few days before the promotion, only to lower them again and celebrate this as a big discount.

To narrow your scope, retailers will also remove certain products from their range at the start of the promotion - and then suddenly add them back at the end of the promotion.

On average, according to the consumer protection experts, the discounts on various days of the campaign are more like 20%, rather than the 50% often claimed.

According to British consumer awareness magazine Which?, more than half (61%) of all Black Friday sale items in the UK are cheaper or the same price before the so-called sales begin.

Time pressure and limited stocks

Time running out before the deal ends or bars showing dwindling stocks is all designed to put customers under pressure to buy fast before thinking.

If you don’t have time to research, then you won’t suspect anything is wrong will the deal. For this reason, online retail experts say it’s important to check beforehand whether free returns are possible.

Things don’t always look like a bargain when you add shipping costs. It’s also worth checking what kind of delivery time to expect. Otherwise you can end up waiting forever for that slightly cheaper phone charger to arrive from China.

You’re also advised not to make an advance payment or direct bank transfer on websites you’re not familiar with, as these may well be fake offers. Payment by invoice or direct debit is more secure.

Finally, once you’re finished shopping, delete your browser history and cookies to make it harder for retailers to create comprehensive profiles of your purchasing behaviour. – dpa

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