Black Friday DEALS vs DUDS – How to spot ‘em

It’s almost that time of year again, where retailers battle to shout the loudest about Black Friday, and while there are usually good deals to be had, there are always a few ‘duds’ mixed among them just waiting to catch us out.

Each year, the MSE Deals team bring you the best of Black Friday, as well as the worst - see MSE’s Black Friday 2018 guide for all their predictions and analysis in the run-up to Black Friday (23 Nov), and follow them on Twitter and Facebook for updates. I’ve been sifting through the sales that have started early this year myself to find examples of deals (or duds) that are definitely ones to be missed.

Further down, I’ve got some general tips on how to avoid overpaying on Black Friday.

Black Friday ‘duds’ spotted so far

It’s still a few days away, but for retailers Black Friday seems to begin earlier each year. Here are some examples of products I found on sale at ‘Black Friday prices’ today, all of which I was able to find cheaper elsewhere with a simple online price comparison.

PRODUCT PRICE (WHEN I CHECKED ON TUE 20 NOV) CHEAPEST ELSEWHERE
FIFA 19 (PS4/Xbox One) £38.99 at Argos, £39.99 at Game £34 at Amazon
Hugo Boss BOSS Bottled Night Eau de Toillete (100ml) £39 at Boots £32.95 at Fragrance Direct
Fire HD 8 tablet £49.99 at Amazon £49.95 at John Lewis (incl 2yr warranty)
Philips DC5039/30 steam iron £100 at John Lewis £84.99 at Amazon

These ‘dud’ deals are a perfect example of why you should always do your homework before you buy. Below are a few tips on how to spot and avoid duds when Black Friday rolls around (in fact, most of these apply anytime).

How to avoid Black Friday duds

Use Martin’s Money Mantra’s

First off, don't be sucked in by the hype. Black Friday is a marketing ploy by retailers. There are good deals to be had, but only if you need them and can afford them. Just because there are deals on – it doesn't mean you have to buy.

Use deals pages for analysis

There are several deal websites which spot the best deals for you. Places like MoneySavingExpert.com, HotUKDeals and Latest Deals have their finger on the pulse of what deals are worth shouting about but also let you know about the duds to watch out for.

Check prices now

As with anything, it's a good idea to do your research. If there's a specific product you need to buy or want to give as a Christmas gift, start looking at prices now. It's important to gauge pricing early, so you can work out what's a good deal.

Do your own price comparisons

Don't assume the first place you look will be the cheapest price for the item you want. Retailers often get into pricing battles to undercut or match competitors. So always do your own price comparisons to see which retailer is cheapest before buying.

Don't assume a big discount is a big saving

You'll see so many discounts and deals on Black Friday with different terminology, but just because you see a high number, that doesn't mean it's a massive saving. Some retailers may bill their sales as "up to 70% off" and only have one or two items at the highest amount off.

Don't only think about price

It's worth considering other factors such as warranties or return rights when deciding where to buy from. One example is when buying high value electronic items. Purchasing through John Lewis gets you a free two-year warranty, which is something that its rivals don't offer.

See historical Amazon pricing using CamelCamelCamel

If you're a loyal Amazon shopper, you can look at the old prices of items by using historical price-tracking tool CamelCamelCamel. Not only does this tell you if you are getting a good deal on Amazon on the day, you can also see if the price has been cheaper than it is today.

Haggle down further

Don't be afraid to haggle for even more money off on already discounted items, either in store or through online chat services. It's likely that retailers have increased their stock to cope with the demand, so it can't hurt to ask for a little bit more off. The worst they can do is say no!

Shop online

Based on consumer rights, it's much better to buy online. If you purchase something in the Black Friday sale and then decide you don't want it or find it cheaper after you bought it, you have a 14-day period in which you can choose to return your item, and 14 days to send it back – no questions asked.

You don't have these same protections when buying in store, only when an item is faulty.

Have you spotted any deals or duds ahead of Black Friday? I’d love to know in the comments below, on Twitter @MSE_Deals or on Facebook.