Important! Ensure you know how to shop safely before trying these deals
For safety, pay by credit card if over £100
Protect purchases under £100
Use unfamiliar sites without checking
Let your antivirus run out
Full DOs and DON'Ts
Tips for shopping safely
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.
What happens if a company goes bust?
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.
DO Pay by credit card for goods over £100
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.
DO Protect purchases under £100
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.
DON'T Use unfamiliar sites without checking
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.
DO Check the site's legit
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.
DON'T Let your antivirus run out
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.
DO Know your distance selling rights
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.
DO Understand sometimes there's no protection.
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.
Register with PizzaExpress and get a three course set menu for £13.75 every weekend till Sun 11 May.
Prices vary from branch to branch, but three courses would often set you back around £20, so this is still a decent saving.
The voucher's valid at the restaurant you choose when signing up and it's good for the whole table. You can show it on your smartphone too. There are loads of excluded restaurants though - there's more info on those below.
Doppio Dough Balls, Calzone pizzas and Dolcetti are excluded. Can't be used with any other voucher, offer, set menu, express lunch menu or Tesco/Nectar vouchers. Excludes takeaway.
If you choose a gluten free based pizza or salad as a main, you get a mixed salad as a starter instead.
Offer's not available in these London restaurants: Earl's Court, Brent Cross shopping centre, White CIty Westfield, and Olympia .
Also excludes Fulham, Twickenham, Richmond, Baker Street, The O2, Southampton Oxford Street and Southampton West Quay when a sports or entertainment event is taking place nearby. Also can't be used at jazz clubs, music rooms or pop-up restaurants.
Excludes Bow Street and St Martin's Lane (both London) after 5pm on Saturdays (you must pay your bill before 5pm).
Register with Toby Carvery to get a selected main and starter or pudding for £6.50 per person. It's valid Mon-Sat until Sat 3 May and one voucher's good for a table of four.
You can choose from an adult carvery or vegetarian alternative (usually up to £5.99) and either soup of the day (normally £2.89) or a choice of pudding (usually up to £3.79) from the following choices:
Excludes Belfast and these London branches: Euston, Glasshouse Street, King’s Cross Station, Marble Arch, Mayfair and Northumberland Avenue.
Choose from classic and light pizza and pasta, flatbread pizzas, calzones, risotto, salads, filled pasta and al forno. But the offer excludes grills (the mains section of the menu) VIPizzas, executive pizzas, specials, small plates and the children's super chefs menu.
It's not valid with other offers, discounts, set menus, Tesco tokens and takeaways.
Register with Loch Fyne and get a voucher for 25% off food from the a la carte menu and daily specials for up to six people at most restaurants until Wed 30 Apr. You can either print the voucher or show it on your smartphone.
Careful though, the offer's not valid after 6pm on Sat. There are a couple of other restrictions - more info on those below.
Enter the code NQHSQWRK when you order online with Domino's* and get 25% off when you spend £25 or more. Valid at all its restaurants till Wed 30 Apr for collection and delivery. Excludes drinks and ice creams.
As Burger King is a franchise, it can't guarantee that all restaurants are participating. The offer excludes theme park branches, and it's likely many motorway, airport and railway branches won't accept the vouchers either. Check ahead if you're making a special trip.
Each offer also has some other individual T&Cs, so check these before you try to use them. It's limited to one voucher per person and it can't be used with other offers.
Register with PizzaExpress and get a voucher for 25% off your food bill between Mon-Thu and Sun after 5pm, until Sun 25 May. One voucher's enough for the whole table and you can either print it or show on your smartphone.
It includes takeaway orders, but not those made online. Be aware, there are a lot of excluded restaurants - see more info below.
It's valid on the Piccolo menu but excludes Calzone and Calabrese pizzas, and the Dolcetti dessert.
Cannot be used with any set menu (including the Express Lunch and takeaway set menus) or other offers (including Tesco vouchers/codes, Nectar, NUS extra and Tastecard). Excludes upgrades and extra toppings.
It’s valid at the restaurant you choose when registering, though it excludes these London restaurants: Earl’s Court and Olympia exhibition centres, Brent Cross shopping centre, both Westfield shopping centres, or at PizzaExpress jazz clubs, music rooms or pop-up restaurants.
Also not available at these central London restaurants - Haymarket, Bow Street, Strand, St. Martin’s Lane - from 5pm–7.30pm Tue-Thu.
Finally, also excludes Fulham, Twickenham, Richmond, Baker Street, The O2, Southampton Oxford Street or Southampton West Quay restaurants when sports or entertainment events are on.
Register 'n' print this Carluccio's voucher to get a free bottle of Sicani red or white wine (usually £13.95) when you buy two mains. If either of these aren't your tipple you can get two 660ml bottles of Peroni Nastro Azurro (usually £5.95 each) or £13.95 off any other wine bottle instead.
It's valid at all of its restaurants for three months after you sign-up. One voucher can only be used per bill and it's for new sign-ups only. This is an ongoing offer. Please be Drinkaware.
MSE Anna says:
Mains start from around £8, so with the free wine on top you could save up to 53%.
Sign-up to Sizzling Pubs' newsletter and get £5 off your food bill when you spend £10 or more. It's an ongoing offer, for up to six people, valid for 14 days from the date you register at any of its restaurants.
Register with Ember Inns and you'll get a voucher for a free starter or pudding when you order a main meal. You can use the voucher at all Ember Inns and only one voucher can be used per person, per visit. Register by 7 Jul 2014 to get it.
Sign up to Hungry Horse’s newsletter and get a free Super Sundae (usually £3.29-£3.69). It's valid at all of its restaurants for 28 days from the date the voucher is sent. Print or show on your smartphone to redeem.
There’s no minimum spend so you don’t need to order anything else. The offer’s ongoing but could end at any point so get in fast!
Register with Toby Carvery and get a voucher for a free ice cream with strawberry, chocolate, butterscotch or lemon sauce (usually £2.79), when you buy a carvery main (£6ish). You can print the voucher or show it on your smartphone. There's no end date, instead, the voucher’s valid for four weeks after you register and it’s good for up to six people.
Sign up for a MyWaitrose loyalty card (click 'Join myWaitrose now' on the left-hand side-bar) and get a free regular tea or coffee in-store every day. Choose from Americano, cappuccino, latte, tea, mocha or espresso (decaf options are also available in some stores).
If you sign up online, it takes up to 5 weeks for the card to be posted to you, so it's quicker to sign up for a temporary card in-store, and that way, you can get the offer straightaway.
There's no minimum spend, simply walk in and show your card. See the full list of participating Waitrose stores.
One free drink per member, per day. Offer excludes hot chocolate and isn't valid at Costa concessions, petrol filling stations, Shell and Welcome Break. Can't be used with other cafe or hot drink offers, or the cafe loyalty card.
Show your card at a manned till or scan it at a quick pay station.
Choose from the following: cask ale, a pint of Foster's (or alternative standard lager if not available), a 25ml measure of Jack Daniel's and Pepsi mixer, a 175ml glass of Hardy's Chardonnay, Shiraz or Rose (or house wine alternative if not available), a bottle of J2O or a 14oz glass of Pepsi or lemonade.
Valid for one month from registration, and it's one per person.
Enter the code AF111E online at Pizza Hut Delivery* or quote over the phone or at the counter on any Tuesday. It's for both delivery and collection though it's valid on medium and large options only. The offer's ongoing.
Orange/EE customers can get 2for1 on both mains and dough balls at most PizzaExpress restaurants every Wednesday by texting FILM to 241 (costs 35p) and using the Orange/EE Wednesdays cinema code. You can also get the code by calling 241 or using the app - although these cost 35p also.
The offer's on till 24 Sep 2014. It's valid on takeaway orders too, either show the code on your phone or mention it when ordering over the phone (excludes online orders).
One code per customer and the cheapest main will be free.
Excludes Dean St London Jazz club. You won't be able to get takeaway at Great Portland Street in London, St Ives, or Jesmond in Newcastle. Can't be used with any other offer or set menu, including Tesco restaurant tokens and piccolo menus.
Present a cinema ticket at The Real Greek on Wednesdays and get 50% off food. The offer's valid with a ticket from any cinema, or you can show your booking confirmation on your smartphone, but it must be from that day.
One ticket's needed per person, so to get the max value out of this, use the 2for1 cinema tix offer from Orange Wednesdays/EE Wednesdays. If you're not an Orange or EE customer, pick up a free Sim card, to start getting the offer. The Real Greek says the offer is ongoing and that you don't need a voucher.
Big restaurant chains such as Prezzo, Wacky Warehouse and Fayre & Square pubs use mystery shopping companies to keep staff on their toes, and ensure food, service and premises are up to scratch.
Even better – they often give you free nosh in return for your feedback.
One of those companies - The Mystery Dining Company - is having a major recruitment drive and taking on 100s of new diners a month for assignments across the UK. You don't need any previous experience to apply, just good written English, a camera (to take a picture of receipts) and access to the internet so can file a report by noon the next day.
If you're accepted as a reviewer, you can choose assignments from a regularly-updated list in your area. If you're picky, you might do two or three a year, but some do as many as 20 a month. You don't get paid for your visits, but you'll be reimbursed an agreed amount.
Each task varies. Sometimes you'll get a budget that will cover you and a partner or even a whole family, and at other times you'll be asked to purchase specific items or test staff knowledge of certain products and menus.
MSE Michael says:
If you fancy a bit of 'cloak and dagger' identity, mystery shopping can be great fun. My partner and I did it at university and dined out on gratis grub about twice a month - it was a great way to treat ourselves when money was tight.
Stick to the budget you're given and you dine out for nowt, or if you fancy spending a bit more, you can treat it as a discount. The reports take about an hour to write, and I recommend completing it the same evening so you don't forget any of the details.
It's important to remember that not everyone gets accepted and demand for mystery shoppers varies depending on the area of the country you live in - for example, the south east of England is usually particularly well-covered. Travel expenses are not included.
If you don't file your report by 12 noon the next day, you risk not getting paid, and there's a limit on the amount of alcohol you're allowed to purchase. If the company finds out you're half-cut when you file your report (even if you paid for the booze yourself) it can be declared invalid.
FREE £4.50 meals for kids EVERY DAYNo adult purchase necessary
2 days left
Kids (up to 13yrs) can get a totally free meal at Debenhams Cafe or Restaurant worth £4.50 EVERY DAY, ANYTIME till Sun 27 Apr. There's no limit on the number of kids in a group, though an adult has to be there. Crucially, Debenhams has confirmed the adult doesn't need to buy an adult meal, or spend any money in-store.
As it's one meal per child, per day, theoretically (from Wed 16 April), you could visit 11 times before it expires. That's £50 worth of food for one kid!
What do you get? Any kids'-sized meal. Examples include a four piece breakfast, fish and chips, a mini-carvery or a packed lunch (this includes a drink).
Why is Debenhams doing this? We think Debenhams hopes by the time adults get the kids through the store, they'll spend some cash or at least have a cuppa. But you don't have to!
The offer is nationwide.
MSE Charlotte says:
The only kids' meals we saw advertised in our local Debenhams were fish and chips and a sandwich which includes a drink (see pic). When I asked the sales assistant if anything else, a half-sized carvery or sausage and mash was also offered. So make sure you ask staff what the options are.
Every Sunday, buy an adult carvery (£7.29) at Crown Carveries, and get a kid aged under 10 a smaller one for free (usually £4.29). This means a family of 2 adults and 2 children get both kids' meals free.
There's no voucher to print, simply walk in to get the offer. Crown says this is an ongoing offer, and it's available at all its restaurants.
Buy an adult breakfast (served till 10.30am) for £8.25 at a Beefeater Grill restaurant located next to a Premier Inn hotel and get up to two children's breakfasts free. Children must be aged 15 or under.
Print this Real Greek voucher and get a free kids' meal every Sunday (includes a main, drink and ice cream or sorbet) for every £7 spent by an adult, saving £6.75. Plus, there's no limit to the number you can get, so if three adults spend £7, three kids under 12 will eat free. The Real Greek says the offer is ongoing and there’s no end date.
Kids get a main and a drink from the under-8s menu for £1 (usually £5ish) when an adult dines from the main menu every Sunday at Slug and Lettuce. No voucher's needed, simply walk in. The offer's ongoing.
Simply walk into a Harvester any day of the week and you’ll get a selected main, unlimited salad and soft drink, plus a Sunday Best sundae for £9.99.
The unlimited salad is usually free when you buy a main meal but with some of the mains hitting £9 alone, you can save up to £5 with this offer.
Choose between six mains, plus a tea or coffee, or unlimited soft drink. If you fancy something stronger, you can get a pint of Carling (usually around £3) for £1 extra or another alcoholic drink (options depend on the restaurant, some will offer a glass of wine).
Kids can also get in on the action for £5. It includes any children's main meal, unlimited salad and a kids' Sundae Best ice-cream, saving you around 30p - 70p.
Simply walk in to All Bar One from 5pm Sun - Thu and get two courses (either starter and main or main and pud) for £10. This is an ongoing offer which could save you around £5. Excludes Birmingham Airport and it can't be used with any other offer.
Simply walk in to Frankie & Benny's between 5pm and 10pm on Mondays (except bank holidays) and get 25% off your food bill. Frankie & Benny's says the offer's ongoing and is available in all restaurants except airport locations.
Help yourself to as much food from the breakfast Carvery counter as you like - previously you were only allowed one helping. Some Carveries only serve breakfast Fri - Sun, so check the times at your nearest venue.
Help yourself to as much bacon, sausage, eggs, toast and anything else you fancy from the breakfast counter as many times as you like. If you’re vegetarian, you can also have as many Quorn sausages as you like, though unlimited mushrooms will set you back an extra 79p.
No voucher's needed for this deal so you can just walk in to get a 6" sub and a draught drink for £3. With 6" subs averaging between £2.99 - £3.59 and drinks from £1.19 - £1.59, you could save up to £2.18 with this offer. You can also get your sub toasted for free.
There's a secret phrase that turns any credit card into a financial self-defence superhero. "Section 75" laws means your plastic must protect anything you buy over £100 for free, so if there's a problem or the company goes bust you can still get your money back.
Although Section 75 doesn't apply to debit cards there is something else to fall back on if you paid on a Visa debit or electron card, or Visa credit card under £100 (otherwise go for Section 75). Known as Visa Chargeback, this is part of Visa's internal rules and not a legal requirement. Full details of Section 75, chargeback and how to claim in the Section 75 Refunds guide.
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