Don’t fall into the flash sale traps: Three things you should know about Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other retail events
You might have already secured a bargain gadget in the Black Friday sales this week. And if it’s something you really wanted (or needed), and you’re happy with the price you paid, then fine.
But as the sales go into the weekend and Cyber Monday, it pays to be wary of these flash retail events, for three very good reasons.
Prices are often lower at other times of year
Research for personal finance website Thisismoney by Idealo showed that in 2017, smartphones, tablets, games consoles and vacuum cleaners were all lower after Black Friday than on the day itself. Idealo also found that a massive 90% of all products in Black Friday sales last year were on sale at lower prices at other times of year.
Thisismoney’s Grace Gausden wrote: ‘Many feel pressured to buy deals on the day and later realise that they actually didn't need or want what they purchased.’
The findings were echoed by consumer group Which?, which found that most Black Friday deals are cheaper at other times. It tracked the prices of 94 products on offer over Black Friday 2017 and found 87% of items were cheaper at other times and almost half cheaper in the six months after.
The message is: do your research. At the very least, put the item through an online price comparison tool before you press the button on a flash sale purchase. If you need an item urgently and Black Friday happens to be round the corner, fine. If you can wait, then it is unlikely you will do much worse (and you could well do better) in the post-Christmas sales. Online electrical and gadget retailers have reductions year-round on stock that isn’t the very latest.
Don’t give in to FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)
Retailers have become very adept at pressuring us into a sale. This goes on all the time: hotel room websites telling us there is ‘only one room left at that price’, airline websites that haver only ‘two seats left at that price’, furniture retailers with their sales that ‘end on Sunday’.
This is ramped up in the frenzy of Black Friday with websites often showing how many of a particular item remain or shouting that the discount will disappear at midnight (when often it won’t, they’ll just extend it if it hasn’t sold out).
Steel yourself against these tricks and ask yourself, do you really need this now?
Check the cancellation and return details before you click ‘buy’. Then at least if you do give in and regret it you can cancel or send it back.
No less than GCHQ – the national intelligence and security organisation – put out a warning this week that flash sale events are a field day for fraudsters and scammers.
Check out as a guest where possible: if you haven’t got an account, it can’t be hacked.
If a retailer asks for a security question when you create your account, don’t give out your mother’s maiden name – because that is probably attached to various other accounts, including financial ones.
You can check if your account has been compromised in a data breach at haveibeenpwned.com. Change passwords on any accounts that come up for you.
Make strong passwords: no family names, birthdays, addresses etc. Include numbers, upper and lower case letters and a couple of character symbols.
Make your email and banking passwords different from eachother and do not copy them for any other account.
Check warranties and returns and cancellation policies: disreputable retailers often have poor ones: don’t go there.