This is a regularly-updated list of top short-lived bargains. They're all checked with the company's press office where possible (unless stated).
Before you get seduced by the deals, first follow this checklist. 1. Check for vouchers: See the Shopping vouchers guide. 2. Benchmark prices: Use the MegaShopBot to compare prices. 3. Will you use it: If you won’t use it, or can’t afford it even sales goods aren’t worth it. Read our tips for safer shopping.
Full DOs and DON'Ts
Whether it's a retailer or restaurateur, airline or air-conditioner seller, computer shop or car rental company, there are always two main risks. Either it's a dodgy company, or it's a legit company that has financial problems and goes bust.
The aim of these tips is to help you minimise the risks.
Quite simply, its customers are immediately transformed into creditors. This hits hardest if you've ordered goods or tickets from them, and not had delivery, as then you become one of a line of people trying to get your money back out of the company's assets, and you usually get back much less than you paid in.
Even if you've had delivery, if the company you bought from goes under and there's a problem with the goods, it can mean you've no comeback.
While MoneySavingExpert.com endeavours to check deals are valid, we don't check companies ' finances. Even huge names like MFI and Woolies have folded, so it's very important you use the right strategies to stay protected where possible.
Pay by credit card for something over £100, and Section 75 laws supercharge your consumer rights.
Unlike debit cards, cheques or cash, pay in full or part (even just £1) on a credit card and by law the lender's jointly liable with the retailer.
This means you have exactly the same rights with the card company as you do with the retailer. So if it goes bust, you can simply take your complaints there instead and get money back if there's no delivery.
Yet it's important you ALWAYS REPAY IN FULL each month, so there's no interest cost. See the full Section 75 guide.
Section 75 doesn't apply to purchases under £100, but there's still an option which can help. It isn't a legal protection, just Visa, Mastercard and Amex's rules, but it's a good back-up.
Spend on a Visa, Mastercard or Amex credit card or any debit or charge card. If the goods don't appear, you can try to ask your bank/card provider to reclaim the cash from the seller's bank, so long as you complain within 120 days of realising there’s a problem. See the Chargeback guide for full details.
Bogus websites are often set up to cash in on popular products like Ugg boots and Tiffany necklaces, so be wary if it's an unfamiliar site. And don't think that because it appears on a reputable search engine, that makes it a reputable site - always check.
Most folk know to look for a security padlock on the bottom right of a website, but that doesn't mean the site's legit, just that payment's secure.
To find out who registered the site and when, search the Whois database. Reputable firms should also appear on the Companies House site, the UK Government's official companies register. Be very wary of businesses with just a PO Box or email address.
Study the site's worldwide web ranking on Alexa. Anything in the top 100,000 means it's reasonably big and a good, though not foolproof indication of legitimacy. Do a quick Google search for other shoppers' experiences.
Crucially, ensure your security's up-to-date - free software can be downloaded to your computer in about five minutes. Full details in the Free Antivirus Software guide.
Many people are surprised to learn you've MORE rights buying online (or by telephone/catalogue) due to the Distance Selling Regulations.
These give you a legal right to send most goods back within seven days for a full refund (including outward delivery costs), even if there's no fault. You'll usually need to pay for the return delivery. Read Consumer Rights for a full guide.
However, of course, this is balanced by the fact ordering online automatically means there's a time gap between ordering and delivering - when the company has your money. So if it goes bust during that time, the distance selling rights don't help.
Ultimately, there is always a risk that a company can go bust. If the above routes don't apply, then you have to make a decision about whether you're willing to take the risk of parting with your cash.
Don't be scared of this. Every day we all make transactions based on trust, and this is part of that, but do balance up the amount you're spending against the risk. Don't give large amounts of money to a company you're not sure about.
Seen a better or different deal? Then please add it to the Hot Bargains discussion.
Previously, to get online music streaming service Spotify on your phone or tablet, you had to pay £9.99 a month for Spotify Premium. Now that's changed - you can get it on those devices for free.
How it worked before:
1. You could get it free when online (with ads) on your desktop computer, but NOT at all on mobiles and tablets (EVERYONE found this really frustrating).
2. You could pay £9.99 a month for Spotify Premium for your desktop, tablet and phone, download music to listen to offline and have no ads.
You can create a free account (it'll have ads, but it's not that bad) to use on your desktop AND on your mobile and tablet on Android and iOS via the free app. You can only listen to tracks and playlists when you're online (not download & listen offline - this is still only available on Premium).
If you're already subscribed to Premium and would now prefer the free version, you can cancel at any time.
Spotify has all the music you could imagine (unless you're into 'little' bands like Oasis and The Beatles).
However, it's recently added the back catalogue of Led Zeppelin, making it the only music streaming service to include the Rock Gods. I've a Whole Lotta Love for that (genuinely really sorry for that one).
If you're hosting an Ambassador's reception (or maybe just Christmas dinner) you can get a 60 piece Ferrero Rocher pyramid 750g gift pack for £12.50 which is half price in-store and online at Tesco*, till Tue 26 Dec. Fancy! This is really popular, and stock will differ from store-to-store, so be quick if you want a box.
It may be worth picking this up now ready for Christmas (it would make a great gift!). However, if you're anything like me, there's less than ZERO chance that this pyramid is making it through to Dec 25th.
You can get a free PAYG Alcatel 10.10 mobile phone from T-Mobile* when you buy £10 credit. It’s a standard colour-screen non-smartphone, but you can call, text, listen to the radio. Apocryphally though it’s a ‘granny in the glovebox’ - in other words, great as a spare or for keeping in the car for emergencies. Delivery’s free.
Will the credit last? As long as you make a call or send a text within 180 days, your credit won’t expire and your Sim will stay live. Fail to do that and you’ll lose the credit. So make a note to call a mate on it once every six months, just to be sure.
If you’re after something with more bells and whistles, or want a contract, see our step-by-step Cheap Mobiles guide.
Here are the mobile's specifications:
Important: UK calls are 35p per min, texts are 14p each. Credit will last for 6 months.
It’ll stay on standby for 250 hours, so you can leave it about for emergencies. It has a 12-month manufacturer’s warranty.
Get a free John Lewis loyalty card and you can get FREE tea/coffee and cake, every month! Here’s what you need to know to get it:
WARNING! Gratuitous pictures of cake coming up...
When we first wrote this, we didn't have all the cake-based info. We don't do things by halves here at MSE, so even though it was a terrible inconvenience, I trudged all the way (at least a five-minute walk) to 'research' what was on offer.
My card STILL hasn't arrived yet - c'mon John Lewis! (It must be busy making super-cute Christmas adverts...) So I got some tea and cake and put it on my expenses instead. The things we do for you!
Here are some pics of what I found and what they cost.
If you're not one of the Call of Duty super-fans who queued outside stores waiting to pick up a copy, we've got all the info you need to get Ghosts as cheaply as possible.
We've compared prices from the top retailers. Our top pick is at Sainsbury's for £32.99, when you spend £30 in-store on groceries by Sun 10 Nov (the £30 spend excludes petrol and lottery). If you buy the game online it'll cost you £42.99 for Xbox* and PS3*.
Normally, we don't like these 'spend £XX to get a discount' offers. But as this deal is at a supermarket, you can stock up on essential items you were going to buy anyway AND get a discount off this new game.
We don't see it getting any cheaper before Christmas (and not for a good while after, due to its popularity) so it may be worth taking advantage of this offer now.
Here's the best of the rest from other retailers:
Remember that often, the majority of game-play with Call of Duty is online (which costs if you're an Xbox player). So if you're planning on getting either the new Xbox One or PS4 this month, think twice about getting it now as the game is not backwards-compatible.
This is great - you may be able to get £100 Vax steam mop for £25 at Argos.
If you try to buy a Steamworks SW1 steam mop, which costs £25, then we’re hearing many reports (and have tried it ourselves at a number of stores, see below) that you actually get a Vax S87-T2 steam mop (the link takes you to Sainsbury's, where it's on sale for £100).
We asked Argos why this is happening. It told us: "This is a short-term substitute and as such, we cannot guarantee the product the customer will receive."
The best way to do this
1. Reserve it online to pick up in-store because stock is low, so don’t waste a journey.
2. Go yourself, and check which one you get. If it's not the Vax, you can turn it down at the till. We’ve had some reports the Vax is inside a plain box, so open it up to check.
Argos's returns policy has a 30-day money-back guarantee. So even if you took it home, if it's the wrong one, you should be able to return it and get a refund as long as "it's unused, in its original undamaged packaging, in a saleable condition, with your receipt".
Many people on our forum are getting the Vax, although some found it was out of stock. Those who got the original Steamworks managed to get their money back.
I tried three London stores on the way to MSE Towers and reserved a steam cleaner at all three. At the first (Putney), I was told the stock hadn't come in yet, but at the other two (Marble Arch and Chancery Lane) I managed to get them without a problem. Although I learned when carrying them back to the office that I need to work on my upper body strength.
Register or log in with TripAdvisor, then connect your Amex to your account (follow the link and click connect – it’ll take you right through). Once that’s confirmed, submit a review of somewhere you’ve stayed or eaten at recently. If your review is posted before 31 Dec, £5 will be credited to your Amex account within 90 days.
Your card must stay synced to your TripAdvisor account for you to remain eligible for the cash and your review must adhere to TripAdvisor’s rules (so no touting for business or posting a fake review).
Buy CDs/vinyl from Amazon and its Autorip service* means you now get the MP3s free. Yet this also works for anything bought since 1999. So know what you are doing and you can recover years worth of music from maybe CDs you may have lost, damaged or thrown away.
How do I check?
Just check 'your music' in Amazon Cloud Player to see if you have any albums or songs from your past, you can then stream or download your music. Simple.
It can take a while for it to find the music. The biggest musical treasure trove in MSE Towers belonged to MSE Darryl, who had 150 albums going back 13 years, which took 10 minutes to get.
We discovered this after I was chatting with MSE Shrey about music storage (we're very interesting) and he told me he recently signed up to Amazon Cloud Player* and found more than 30 albums he'd bought hard copies of years ago.
I asked the rest of the MSE team if they had any music lurking about from their past. To our surprise a load of us did (feel free to judge):
Found music you didn't realise you had? Let us know in the Reclaim lost music forum thread.
If you're anything like us, you've been watching the Great British Bake-off, which has got us all in the baking mood. To save you all some dough, we've risen to the occasion and got you the knead to know baking deals.
As inspiring as Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood are, check out our Baking thread for all the info and advice you could ever need on pastry, muffins and buttery buns.
If you're planning on putting on a fireworks show this Bonfire Night, pop down to Aldi or Lidl to pick up a deal. They're in-store, for over 18s only, while stocks last. As fun as these are, please be aware of the Firework Code.
Aldi has fireworks as part of its Special Buys range including:
Lidl also has some crackin' bargains, including:
Not only are fireworks useful on the 5th November for Bonfire night - or Diwali on 3 November - they can also come in useful for New Year's celebrations, so it's worth picking up some now and keeping them stored safely away.
Can you hear that jingle? Nope, it's not Santa's sleigh (yet), it's the sound of your hard-earned cash clinking out of your wallet and entering the toy shop tills. Got that festive feeling yet?
It doesn't have to be that way. We've noticed some brilliant branded toys in Poundworld and Poundland at the moment that would make some great stocking fillers. Get them while stocks last!
Click on the below image to see our haul.
This Nook is Barnes & Noble's version of the Kindle Paperwhite, which costs £109 on Amazon. Customer reviews on the John Lewis website are generally very good and TechRadar gives it 4/5 stars.
Controversial computer game Grand Theft Auto V (strictly over-18s) doesn't come cheap.
Obviously, you're better off waiting a bit (well, months) for it to be reduced, or get a second hand one. However, if you're someone who wants a game as soon as it comes out, here's a rundown of the cheapest deals for the Xbox and PS3.
According to the game's maker Rockstar, the virtual world in GTA V is bigger than earlier versions including, GTA: San Andreas, GTA IV, and Red Dead Redemption COMBINED - ridiculously huge. If you buy it now, but want the Xbox One or the PS4, which are both out in November, be warned it won't be compatible with these new consoles.
Buy two promotional Oxford notebooks (A4 or A5 300 refill pads or Wiro notebooks) by Sat 31 Dec to get a free Cineworld ticket (£8ish). The books have previously been on offer at Tesco and Sainsbury's, so keep an eye out for deals to boost the discount even further.
To get your ticket, enter two promo codes (found on the reverse of the attached leaflet) online at Oxford notebooks. You'll be sent an email with your unique e-code to book online at Cineword by 31 March 2014.
It's only one ticket per two books, so you'll have to get four pads if you want to take a friend. There is a max of two tickets per household though.
While this is a great freebie for dog owners, the Dogs Trust is a charity, so donations are gratefully received.
It's called crackle nail varnish as when you apply it as a top coat, the varnish gives a shattered-glass effect as it dries.
As Orla Kiely paper gift bags cost £6.95 at Selfridges, we reckon a shopping bag for £4 is a pretty good deal!
It sounds too good to be true. £1 sun creams – I suspect just reading it, many of you are saying: "Seriously, would I trust my skin to something that cost a quid?"
Yet we’ve found a number of products available at pound shops rather than the usual £6-£12. We've contacted skincare experts to find out how safe the lotions are.
Research from the Post Office suggests sun cream is generally cheaper in the UK than abroad, so it's best to buy before your holiday. Don't forget though, if you're flying, you can only carry a maximum of 100ml in your hand luggage, unless you buy in shops after you've gone through check-in.
You may find items will be taken off you if transferring flights, so be sure to check before flying if you're unsure.
The Baby and Child First Aid app is the first of its kind and contains clear instructions on what to do in many emergencies. Handily, most of the information and videos are stored on the app, meaning no internet connection is needed for viewing, although some features (such as the nearest hospital finder tool) do require you to go online. The bite-sized videos make it easy to learn about first aid while juggling childcare demands.
The flip-flops cost £15-£20 at other stores, so this is a decent saving even with the delivery charge, but even better if you can get to a store.
Go to your nearest Millie's Cookies store and get a gift box for £35. Inside you'll find 12 vouchers, each for a box of 12 cookies. This is called "year's worth of cookies for £35" offer - but we couldn't see any ads for the promotion in our local store, and had to ask for it by name.
You can take the vouchers to any Millie's Cookies throughout the year.
We think you need a few more cookies for a year's worth! Millie's says you can't use more than one voucher at the same time at the same store. But you could spread your cookie-buying out across different days, or use all the same vouchers on the same day but at different stores.
But confusingly, the staff at our local branch said we can use our vouchers however we want - even all at once. So it's worth asking your nearest store.
Don’t fall for the pound shop hype. Some things sold in there cost less than £1 elsewhere, some more. The key is to find the things you’d pay much more for elsewhere. This week we’ve found a whole range – so here goes...
Stonking deals at Poundworld include...
And at Poundland...
We are not able to tell how old the L'Oreal moisturiser is. We asked the British Skin Foundation about expiry dates on skincare. It said:
"Cosmetic products will remain safe to use provided they are stored under suitable conditions and not subjected to extreme temperatures."
"To ensure the maximum durability of cosmetic products, they should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and with the lids firmly closed."
It also said the use by date on cosmetics, is from when you open the product. So if it says 18 months on the box, it should last for 18 months from when you open it, provided it's been stored correctly.
How it works
Morrisons' Fuel Saver deal gives 1p/litre off petrol, diesel or LPG for every £10 of gift cards bought in-store.
There are 38 retailers to buy gift cards for, including Homebase, Debenhams, Currys, PC World, Next, House of Fraser, Halfords, and iTunes, plus new retailers TK Maxx, Oasis, Warehouse and Waterstones. The offer's ongoing, but doesn't include Morrisons' own gift cards.
If there's a large purchase you are going to make anyway - eg, £500 on a computer at PC World or a garden shed at Homebase - get it via buying the gift cards and you'll bag 50p/litre off.
If you bought £1,400 of gift cards, it'd effectively make a £1.40/litre tank FREE. Morrisons has also told us there's no limit per transaction on the gift cards, and you can split any amount above this into a second purchase to get a voucher for a second fill-up. Petrol vouchers are valid for 63 days from the issue date.
Use gift cards quickly
Gift cards are non-refundable, and it isn't a good idea to put money on the card to drip-spend over six months. Though most of those mentioned here are big, safe companies, if the firm goes bust you'll probably lose the cash, so ensure you minimise the time between buying and redemption.
It's also worth noting third party retailers (Morrisons in this case) don't have any responsibility to refund you if a gift card's retailer goes into administration. See the Beware gift vouchers MSE News story. Gift cards are generally valid for about two years, but always check.
Full terms on the Morrisons website. Find your nearest Morrisons.
Warning! While the majority of gift cards are valid for two years, it's worth remembering that if the company goes bust or even just into administration then the card becomes effectively worthless. See our section 75 guide for more advice.
Go to the Amazon Discount Finder and choose your department. Next, pick your discount and price range and choose whether you want free delivery. The tool will then generate a bespoke page full of discounts which fit your search terms.
Amazon often offers 75% and better reductions, yet it directs people to other areas, sending them to higher profit margin products instead.
This tool manipulates Amazon's web links to display all heavily-reduced bargains.
Our new Local eBay Deals Mapper lets you find bargains if you're prepared to pick them up. eBay sellers often specify items must be collected in person which means fewer bids. But you can't normally search 'collection only' so put your postcode in and how far you're prepared to schlep and watch the gems pop up.
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