Competition and markets authority
The online rip off tip off
Black Friday

Black Friday – Don’t Always Believe The Hype

Black Friday feels like a big event, doesn’t it? It feels like an opportunity to grab a deal at a great price.

But be careful, not all discounts may be as they seem.

Check out our top 5 tips for shopping online this Black Friday.

It may not always be a real discount
Not all Black Friday price reductions are genuine. Some businesses may advertise false discounts to make it feel like you are getting a bargain. Be on your guard and don’t take the advertised price cut at face value. Shop around, check at least 2 other sites – you may find the same item for a similar price or less elsewhere.
Use price tracking tools
Black Friday is marketed as a big annual event where prices come down for a short period. But do prices really differ that much from the rest of the year? A price tracking tool will allow you to check what the price of the item you are looking at has previously been sold for, so you can see if you should buy now or if you can wait.
Check the small print
This is particularly important when purchasing holiday getaways or other experiences. Excursions and experiences are popular Christmas gifts but check the terms and conditions of any deal, so you know what you are buying. Particularly look out for any important exclusions. It may be that the deal is cheap on Black Friday for a reason. You don’t want to book a nice getaway only to find you are limited on where, when, or how you can go.
Don’t be rushed into buying
With all the pressure selling tactics used on some websites during the Black Friday period it’s easy to be rushed into the wrong decision for fear of missing out. If you are unsure about a purchase, consider speaking with friends or family before clicking buy…they may be able to offer some impartial advice.
Don’t be disappointed if you miss out
Finally, remember…it’s just another sale. While it is marketed to feel like a huge event, the reality is that Black Friday is just another sale, among a growing number of sales that occur year-around. So don’t feel too disappointed if you miss out… the January sales and Spring sales are just around the corner.

Helping you spot and avoid sneaky sales tactics

These days you can buy almost anything online. But not everything is always as it seems. Some retailers use sneaky sales tactics to dupe you into parting with your money – often before you’ve had a chance to properly think it through. We’ve turned the online marketplace into a real street market to show you exactly what’s happening – and help you shop more confidently.

Take a stroll down Rip-Off Road… 

Look out for hidden charges

Unexpected compulsory fees, taxes or charges can often catch you by surprise. The total amount you’re charged might creep up as you get closer to checkout, as extra costs are bolted on to the original price. Avoid this by treating advertised prices with caution and checking you’re happy with the final amount. Shop around for the best deal and walk away if you need to.

Hidden Charges Tip-Offs
Treat the original/headline price with caution – if it is low, it might be designed to lure you. Watch out for any compulsory extra fees added in during the purchase process. Think carefully before you pay – check the basket or total price for unexpected costs before buying. Shop around – if you’re not sure about the final total price, check out other sites.

Think twice if you feel pressured

Some retailers might try to rush you into paying. Sites will say that stock is low, lots of people are looking right now, or that it’s only available for a limited time. This isn’t always true. So compare prices and availability on other sites, and ignore sales tactics that pressure you.

Pressure Selling Tip-Offs
Always check at least two websites before buying; it pays to shop around. Think carefully before you pay. You might want to check the purchase with a friend/family member or sleep on it and come back tomorrow. Browse in incognito mode on your web browser to see if the countdown timer or clock on the sale has changed. Download a sales or price comparison/tracking app to see how prices change. Ignore ‘lots of people are looking at this’ messages.

Avoid subscription traps

Introductory offers are meant to be attractive. But some are too good to be true. They can mislead you into signing up for an unwanted subscription that can be difficult to get out of. Always check the terms of the deal. Know exactly what you’re signing up to, when your subscription will renew and how many hoops you need to jump through to unsubscribe.

Subscription Traps Tip-Offs
Check out how to leave as well as how to sign up to a subscription. Is it a simple ‘click to cancel’ or is it more complicated, e.g. will you have to phone the company to cancel? Set a calendar reminder to cancel before the next billing date or the end of any trial period. Look beyond any introductory offer for ongoing payments and terms – when will you have to pay and how much will it cost? Do you have to provide payment card details? If yes – stop and ask why. Check your bank/payment card statements regularly for unexpected payments and if you see a charge you didn’t expect, contact your bank or card issuer for help.

Be aware of fake reviews

Some businesses pay or reward people for positive reviews. So don’t believe everything you read. Fake reviews are difficult to spot. Try reading the negatives as well as positives, find reviews on multiple sites, and look for specific details instead of generic remarks. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

Fake Reviews Tip-Offs
Look at negative as well as positive reviews. Check the dates of the reviews – be cautious if they are old or if they were all published close together. Look out for patterns or repeated phrases in reviews – it may indicate they were written by the same person. Be cautious of very high percentages of 5-star reviews. Does the review contain specifics about the product/service experience rather than just using general terms like ‘Brilliant’ or ‘Fantastic’? Real reviews often talk about specifics of the products, such as the quality or price.

Need a little help?

Citizens Advice, Consumer Council Northern Ireland and Advice Direct Scotland are the advice organisations that you can go to for further support regarding misleading online practices.

In England and Wales you can speak to Citizens Advice advisors to talk through and report a misleading online sales practice via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service.

Citizens Advice also provide additional guidance on misleading online practices on its website.