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Mistakes to avoid during Black Friday

Here’s how to make the most of the Black Friday sales, while avoiding the pitfalls.

Image of laptop with Black Friday written on in black

Black Friday began life as a one-day deals bonanza, but it’s since grown into a weeks’ long period of online sales and aggressively advertised deals. While it officially kicks off on Friday 27 November, online retailers have already begun pushing big deals. 

With England under lockdown and other parts of the UK also living COVID-19 restrictions, almost 9/10 shoppers will order Black Friday items online this year, according to our research.

So here are some simple things you can do to make the most of this year’s ‘Black Friday’ deals season.

Check if you’re actually getting the best deal

While a deal labelled as a ‘Black Friday special’ may look attractive, always check if it actually is a good deal. Many people assume that Black Friday is going to be the best day to grab a bargain, but that’s not necessarily the case. 

In some cases, you may actually be able to bag better deals in the week leading up to, or after Black Friday itself. Some retailers may discount their products to get rid of stock left over from the big event.

Sites like CamelCamelCamel will allow you to track how the price of a particular product listed on Amazon has changed over time. Using tools like this should help give you a good idea of the best time of the year to buy a particular item.

Whatever you’re looking to buy, it pays to compare prices as much as you can. While they’re not perfect, sites like Google Shopping can be a helpful way to show you if the item you’re looking for can be found more cheaply elsewhere.

Make a budget and stick to it

This may sound obvious, but with many online retailers working very hard to tempt you into buying their products it’s very easy to get carried away.

Drawing up a list of things you want to buy, alongside a budget for how much you can afford to pay is an effective way of ensuring you do not end up with a massive hole in your bank balance.

Ask yourself which items and must-buys, perhaps as Christmas gifts, and which can wait until later. While making a budget is great, it's only useful if you stick to it. 

Black Friday isn't a day for browsing the shops and buying what strikes your fancy. It's a strategic mission that needs to be carried out with military precision. 

If you come across something irresistible that's not on your list, only buy it if you're willing to cut something else off your list.

Use our Gift Budgeting tool to help you to plan your spending on gifts throughout the year.

Don’t forget about delivery charges 

Remember that if you are shopping online, delivery charges can quickly add up and eat into your budget.

Some websites slash the cost of sale items only to add hefty delivery charges to your order, so check the total cost of getting each item delivered to your door.

It may cost less overall to buy a slightly more expensive item that comes with free delivery.

Separately, many retail sites will offer free delivery if you spend over a certain amount.

If you’re thinking of shopping online with retail giant Amazon over the Black Friday period, there are a couple of handy tools you can use to keep your delivery costs down.

Amazon customers who do not have Prime membership will need to spend £20 in order to get free delivery. If the items in your shopping basket are below this amount, this website can quickly find you a product to bring you up to £20.

Alternatively, you could sign up to a Prime membership free trial, to coincide with your purchases over the Black Friday period over the next few weeks. Amazon Prime members get access to unlimited free one-day delivery. 

Protect yourself from scams

While it’s easy to feel like you have to act quickly when buying during events like Black Friday, shopping online will always carry risks.

If you’ve been sent an email with a deal that looks too good to be true, it could be a phishing attempt. Phishing is a technique used by criminals to get you to reveal personal information. A key example of this is when you’re directed to type your log-in details into a bogus website.

Fraudsters can then try and use this information to steal your money. 

When browsing different websites, there are a number of things you can do to check if the site you’re thinking of buying from is a genuine online retailer. 

Sadly, we’ve heard too many stories of punters paying for goods, only to discover that the site they used was a scam. Here are some quick ways to check if a site you’re visiting is above board:

  • Check the website address. The URL is the address you see in the address bar at the top of your browser. Paying attention to this is crucial. Full details on how to check that a website is legitimate

  • Check for reviews. Before you enter your card details at checkout, have a quick look to see if previous customers have left an online review of their shopping experience. Popular review sites include Trustpilot, Feefo, Reviewcentre and Tripadvisor

  • Look closely at the website content. If it doesn’t read well, it’s likely to be a scam website. Few reputable websites would ever go live without being checked 

Full guidance on how to shop online safely during Black Friday.

Understand your consumer rights

If you shop online you get 14 days to cancel your order and get a full refund from the retailer, including the cost of delivery.

With faulty items, you can get a full cash refund from the retailer if you return it within 30 days, and it does not matter whether you bought it online or in store.

Speak to the retailer, not the manufacturer because it is their responsibility to give you a refund.

It’s also advisable to pay with a credit card if possible, as you’ll be able to benefit from Section 75 protection if things go wrong. For example, if the retailer goes bust before delivering your order, you may be able to get a refund through your credit card provider. 

Shopping online: what are your rights?