Black Friday 2020: five things to consider before buying that ‘bargain’

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Don’t carried away with an online purchase, especially when something is advertised as a great bargain. Before clicking the buy button, run through the following checklist.

Is it as good a deal as it looks?

Don’t take the retailer’s word for it – the websites Idealo and PriceRunner let you compare prices for items across a series of providers in real time. According to Which?, many Black Friday bargains are not as they appear and were bettered on other days.

If you are shopping on Amazon, CamelCamelCamel lets you see the pricing history of an item. A Guardian Money test on an electric toothbrush advertised as having 74% off this year found that it had not been sold at full-price for over two years.

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You may decide you’ll be better off by holding on. Jasmine Birtles, the founder of MoneyMagpie, predicts there will be “loads of sales in December, or whenever the shops are allowed to open again … Seasonal items like clothing and homeware are going to be reduced.”

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Is the website legitimate?

Advertising banners on websites may look as though they have taken you to your favourite shopping website – but have they? Are you about to input your card details into a fake – Amazoŋ.com, or googIe.comv? Look out for anything slightly amiss in the spelling.

End up on the wrong site, and rather than the items you ordered, you’ll more likely see a string of bizarre payments leaving your account instead. Look for a padlock or https in the browser bar as they mean a site is more likely to be secure.

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Are you web shopping for the sake of it or do you really need it?

View image in fullscreenBlack Friday shopping can easily build up. Photograph: Radharc Images/Alamy

Birtles says when shopping on Black Friday you should only go for something you specifically want; something that you’ve actively researched. “If you’re just browsing you’re always going to pick out something that looks like a bargain which you could later regret buying,” she says.

What if I change my mind?

The good news is that you have more rights than if you buy from the sale rail in a shop. While bricks-and-mortar retailers can say that they won’t refund you if you simply change your mind, online you have a 14-day cooling-off period from when you get the goods – for most items. However, this doesn’t apply if you have had something personalised, and you also need to consider the hassle and possible expense of sending something back if the retailer does not offer free returns.

Can I afford it?

Credit cards and buy now, pay later deals mean you don’t have to have the money right away but Birtles advises that you avoid borrowing to spend “unless you are really sure you can pay it off quickly”. If you end up paying any kind of interest or fees for your purchase, that will erode any savings you make.