BIG Black Friday bargains are already hitting the shops.
Over the weekend of November 26 and 27 alone, we’re expected to spend around £8.7billion.
If you’re planning to splurge, it pays to have some expert advice.
Here, Mel Hunter explains everything you need to know about how to bag a genuine bargain while side-stepping phoney deals and scary scams.
The big message this year is that if you don’t need it, don’t buy it.
No deal is worth getting in debt for.
BUYERS beware. While you may bag a brilliant buy this Black Friday, you may also get more than you bargained for.
Police have warned that more than £15million was stolen from unsuspecting shoppers during last year’s shopping event and the run-up to Christmas.
Keep your money safe with these simple tips.
AVOID TEXT TRICKS: FISHY text messages about fake deliveries and orders are easier to fall for when you’ve splashed a lot on Black Friday bargains.
You may get a message claiming to be from a retailer or delivery firm, with a link asking you to send over your bank details. Do not click on the link.
Make a note of the orders you’ve placed with the order or transaction numbers so you can confirm the emails or texts are genuine.
Jenny McCormac, a consumer expert at reviews site brandrated.com, says: “Contact the company a different way – through a customer service phone line or social media and confirm it is legitimate before you take any action.”
BEWARE SHAM SITES: YOU’VE found a bargain with a store you love. But after you’ve placed an order, it never arrives.
You may have fallen for a fake website scam called “typosquatting”, says Jenny, where criminals set up websites with similar names to legitimate retailers.
“Avoid giving money to fake websites by searching for the site you want on Google and accessing it from there, rather than typing it into the address bar.
“Double check for any misspellings and check the address begins with ‘https://’ – the ‘s’ means the website is secure.”
Look also for a padlock at the top left corner of your screen. Be wary of sites without it.
Before you buy, check sites such as Trustpilot to see other customers’ experiences and reviews.
PLAY YOUR CARDS RIGHT: USING a credit card instead of a debit card will give you more protection against fraud and it’s easier to get your money back if you have been scammed.
But it’s essential to be sure you have the money to pay the balance off before interest gets added.
Again, keep a note of order numbers, especially if you’ve checked in as a guest rather than setting up an account.
And sign up to online banking alerts so you know if any unexpected payments are taken from your cards.
THE law can help when things go wrong. If there is a problem with a product, go to the retailer first, rather than the manufacturer.
You only have 30 days to reject something faulty and get your money back.
After 30 days, the retailer has the option of repairing or replacing the item.
Bought too much? You can only return non-faulty goods for an exchange or refund to a High Street store if it has a returns policy. Most do, but check the time limits.
If you bought online, you have 14 days from when the goods were delivered to return the product for a full refund.
Problems with a delivery? It’s always the retailer’s responsibility to deliver your goods.
If your parcel does not turn up on time or arrives damaged, insist they sort it out.
MAX YOUR SAVINGS
THE stores are full of amazing-looking deals. But are the bargains really all that they seem?
Research by consumer body Which? two years ago found that 85 per cent of the items had also been the same price or cheaper in the six months before Black Friday.
Offers such as “Was £150 – now £75” often exaggerate the bargain you’re getting.
Before you part with your cash, do your homework and max the savings you make with our advice.
And remember, a bargain is never a bargain unless you need to buy that item anyway.
It can be tempting to splurge, but with finances tighter than ever it will really pay to be careful.
SIGN UP AND SAVE: SIGN up to your favourite retailers’ newsletters to get early access to discounts and VIP slots.
Follow them on social media for deals, too.
Vix Leyton of Hot UK Deals, an expert on The Sun’s Squeeze Team, says: “You can even sign up for a 30-day Amazon Prime Free Trial for access to their early discounts, but remember to cancel if you don’t want to continue.”
PLAY PRICE DETECTIVE: BUDGETING expert Joseph Seager, of Thriftychap.com, says: “Think about your purchases.
“With Black Friday sales starting earlier, you have more time to mull it over and do your research.
“If you were going to buy a product, check it’s the best possible price. If you weren’t going to buy it, you’re handing over money you weren’t intending to spend.”
Do your research and check the item you’ve got your eye on really is value for money.
Even a simple online search will show you how the price compares with other retailers.
You can also use sites such as Pricerunner and Idealo to help you compare prices and set alerts to tell you when costs drop.
The HotUKDeals app enables users to set keyword alerts, such as Xbox, fashion, TV or Lego, to receive notifications for new bargains.
BE WISE TO TRICKS AND TACTICS: VIX, host of the False Economy money podcast, says: “Some unwanted stock gets pushed during the sales event so beware of exaggerated discounts that may not be worth your money.
“Another trick some retailers use is discounting a flagship item, then only having a limited number of units on sale that quickly sell out.
“So, if you have fallen in love with a pair of shoes, for example, but they aren’t in the Black Friday sale in your size, it is worth buying whichever size is available.
“You can then try to exchange it for the correct one at the same price after Black Friday.
“Worst case scenario is a full refund but best case you get what you want – and for a Black Friday price.”