Not all Black Friday and Cyber Monday ‘bargains’ mean real savings

All that glitters is not gold: If you’ve spotted a bargain during a retail discount campaign, the first rule is to shop around before you buy. — dpa

BERLIN: Singles Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday: The six weeks before Christmas see countless ecommerce platforms pushing what appear to be great deals.

Particularly given today’s inflation levels, many will be eager to make a saving. Do a bit of research, however, and you might find that you’re not saving quite as much money as it might appear.

That’s because most “discounts” are based on a price comparison with the manufacturer’s recommended retail price (RRP), which hardly any retailer normally offers. Even days after they first go on sale, many devices and other products will be discounted from their RRP.

To tell how good an offer is, it’s best to shop around. A simple search engine like Google will help, but you are better off using a price comparison platform like Google Shopping or Idealo in Europe.

Some will also offer a price history, meaning you can see if today’s price is better or worse than what the product was selling for in recent months. Ecommerce research has found that some products can actually increase in price during promotional sales like Black Friday.

If you haven’t found better or similar offers on at least two other search engines, then you may have found yourself a deal.

But there’s one more thing to watch out for: fake shops.

On impulse buy days like Cyber Monday and Singles Day, links to fake shops can appear on social media, often as ads. These can be difficult to spot, especially since they are often copies of real online shops.

Your first warning sign: If a price is too good to be true, it’s probably not for real. And if in the end you can only pay in advance, alarm bells should be ringing. The same goes if you spot poor English and if there’s no contact page. A web search for the platform’s name may tell you more.

If you’re sure the website and offer is legitimate, the last thing to check is the return policy. Even if you are allowed to return the product, you may have to cover the shipping yourself. – dpa

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