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Black Friday: are you really getting a good deal?

Black Friday

For those of you looking to grab a bargain pre-Christmas, chances are you’re anticipating next week’s Black Friday. But are the deals on offer really worth your while?

I can honestly say I’ve never actively sought to shop in the Black Friday sales and am yet to be taken in by this recent shopping phenomenon.

However, that may well change – having recently set up home, I seem to have spent a fair whack on appliances over the past few months, but I’m still lacking a dishwasher.

As this is a fairly non-essential appliance, my plan has been to wait for Black Friday to hopefully nab a bargain. But new Which? research has left me wondering if these sales are really all they’re cracked up to be.

Black Friday deals

Last year, more than £1bn was spent in the UK on Black Friday, but our research into the 2015 Black Friday sales has cast a light on some questionable savings.

We price tracked 20 popular types of tech gadgets and home appliances sold by five major retailers (Amazon, AO, Argos, Currys and John Lewis) in the three months leading up to Black Friday, and the two months after.

But instead of seeing all prices drop during the sales period, we found that only half of the products sold were at their cheapest on Black Friday. The remainder were cheaper either before or after the day.

In fact, one in ten were cheaper at some point in the months leading up to sales event.

We also found that retailers AO and Currys appeared to inflate the ‘was’ price, making discounts look a lot more impressive than they actually were. Many of you will know that the ‘was’ price should actually be the most recent price a product was sold at for at least 28 consecutive days.

And although we found that one in ten discounted products were cheaper on Black Friday than on any other day, four in 10 were cheaper in the weeks after it.

Dud deals

So it seems to me that while there may be some bargains to be had in the Black Friday sales, there are plenty of dud deals, too.

If you’re thinking of searching for bargains next week, don’t be fooled by advertised ‘was’ prices – do your research and check out the prices in the days leading up to sales. This way, you’ll know whether it’s a dud deal or not.

It’s also worth shopping with retailers with price promises so you can get a refund if the product drops in price in the weeks after your purchase.

I’ll be keeping a close eye on the advertised prices for the dishwasher I’m after, as I’m still hopeful I can make a saving on Black Friday. Should that fail, I’ll stick to my Marigolds and Fairy until the January sales…

Are you looking to grab a bargain in this year’s sales? Have you spotted any questionable savings recently?

Are you hoping to pick up a bargain in the Black Friday sales?

No, I'll steer well clear (79%, 585 Votes)

Not sure (16%, 116 Votes)

Yes, I only ever buy products in the sales (6%, 44 Votes)

Total Voters: 745

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Why do we think retailers are going to give away their profits? It is rare to get something for nothing; even “sales” seem not like they were, but a regular marketing tool to lull us into thinking we’ll pick up a bargain. Once they moved surplus stock, old models, shop display or soiled goods. Now they seem to consist of so-called “special purchases” – aka cheaper quality stuff sold “cheaper”.

Many appliances are “non-essential” Lauren. You can wash clothes in the bath, sweep your carpets with a dustpan and brush, but appliances are much more convenient. You may find you fall in love with the dishwasher once you have it. After dinner, load it up, stick in a tablet, press the button and go and relax.

My advice for what it is worth:
– buy one with a top cutlery tray (Miele, Siemens, Bosch I think all do them). Much better than a basket.
– buy a decent quality one that does the washing-up properly
– don’t bother with expensive tablets. We use M&S at 10p each and they do a great job.
– you’ll have to ask your family and friends to buy you more crockery, particularly cups and mugs, for birthday and Christmas. Then you can save up the dirties for a full load and still make cups of tea.

Have you ever had to wash clothes in the bath Malcolm? I have been doing it for several months now since the washing machine broke and waiting for our new kitchen to be finished. It really is a back-breaking job. It’s just lucky I haven’t got rid of my old spin dryer.

We are getting a Siemens dishwasher with a top cutlery tray, and my trusty manual dishwasher gets to retire at last. I have already bought the top 2 brands of dishwasher tablets on special offer to see which ones are best but will keep M&S in mind. We have plenty of mugs but like drinking out of the sames ones every time. My trusty dishwasher has a habit of breaking crockery and we have very few every day plates left so time for a new kitchen crockery set.

I remember the time when my washing machine broke down. I put all the dirty washing in the bath and invited all the children to remove their shoes and socks and jump up and down in the bath. The kids had a whale of a time and all the clothes were washed at the same time!

Having been given the job of loading and unloading a top cutlery tray when staying with family, I cannot think of a bigger waste of time. The ones I’m thinking of keep each item separate to prevent scratching. Decent cutlery does not deserve to be put in a dishwasher and laying everyday cutlery in neat rows makes little sense to me.

I think if you owned a dishwasher with a decent cutlery tray you would realise the benefits. It gives more capacity, saves cutlery dropping through some holes in a basket and fouling the spray arm, keeps cutlery separated so all gets a better wash.

Having used both, I prefer the traditional basket, which can sit on the worktop to be loaded and taken to the cutlery drawer to be unloaded. If a cutlery basket is properly designed, cutlery will not fall through the holes.

The basket bottom can become damaged and the webs break, letting smaller items through. You also lose considerable capacity and versatility in using the space in the main basket. mrs r would not go back to a cutlery basket after years of experience. But each to his own. Maybe Which? could compare wash results for a top tray and a basket full to capacity?

Well yes, if you use damaged goods you cannot expect them to work properly. As you say, each to their own.

Top cutlery tray is actually safer as any research on-line will reveal. I am surprised coroner comments are so easily forgotten.

As the quilt is too big for a washing machine, I do put that in the bath, stick a couple of plastic bags on my feet/legs and march over it. Not sure I think of it as fun, more as good excercise !!!

Like Malcolm, I am wary of ‘bargains’, but there are many genuine offers as well as the pretend bargains. I prefer to plan major purchases well in advance and check reviews. I have often saved money by waiting for offers.

I wish that all Which? product reviews encouraged us to ask ourselves if we need to replace products that are still doing a good job.

Take these so called Mighty Deals, Groupon, Wowcher etc if you look around before buying you will find the same or similar products cheaper with regular prices than what these so called offers give you. Ebay is a good starting point.

Groupon was heavily criticised on Rip off Britain the other day for promoting bogus and highly misleading offers. Fake Ariel washing powder, photo sessions for aspiring models that were totally unnecessary and extortionately expensive and subjected to huge sales pressure, for example.

However, you have to ask, when you see the huge “discounts” offered, this must be too good to be true. And ask “why should someone want to offer me something so cheap?” We are partly to blame for ignoring the warning signs, or maybe we go in just in the hope we’ll get a bargain but accept they may be full of catches and not what they seem. Greed is at the root of many scams – on both the perpetrator’s and the consumer’s side.

If you want a product, first thing is to ensure you identify the best one(s) for your needs – will it do the job, is it reliable, will it last. Then shop around to see how much you can buy it for. If it happens to be in a sale, all well and good, but don’t buy a poorer substitute just because it is on “offer”.

What is annoying, very annoying, is that there is no follow-up on the rogue seller of Ariel, and of what other powders etc are bogus. How the industry runs in the UK for instance?
10kg packages of chemicals are not easy to hide?
to print the fake packaging requires serious machinery.

All of these aspects are ignored. Rather like the BBC Which? we do not have a place to look up these interesting matters to avoid being caught out.

What is the point of not providing a place where people can easily check frauds and have the re-assurance it will be regularly up-dated and contain the full story. Like penalties and successes in combating the rogues.

I seem to recall Black Friday last year being a bit of a damp squib compared to the year before.

When it comes to buying larger white goods it definitely pays if you have the time to do your research before parting with your hard earned money. Our male counterparts have very kindly invented machines to take the hard graft out of household chores, but the downside is women are still doing on average 40% more work in the home than men! I used to own a dishwasher when my four children were at home but now I just put all my used dishes in the sink and leave them to soak in hot washing up liquid until the end of the day when all they need is a quick rinse in fresh water before retiring to bed.

With most women now having to go out to work to contribute towards household expenditure, a dishwasher has become an essential commodity in most homes and it pays to wait a little while longer and save enough to be able to buy one that comes with at least a 5 year warranty, because once you become to rely on a machine to do your work for you, you do miss it if and when it lets you down.

I must admit we would very much miss our dishwasher; nothing can compete with it for cleanliness and convenience. We usually run it every day but sometimes on the half-load programme. I agree with Malcolm on the slide-out top cutlery tray – it leaves more space in the lower basket and is much more convenient to fill and empty [plus it takes most lengths and thicknesses of knives, forks and cooking tools, etc].

Having said that I would suggest you wait until after Christmas and buy one in the January ‘clearance events’ when real bargains are more likely.

A tip from past experience: if you want to install it under a worktop, check the clearances first and the routes for the inflow and waste and the electrical supply. The builders of our house had to send a carpenter round to enlarge the cavities for the dishwasher and washing machine. The firm that installed the fitted kitchen thought 60 cm would be sufficient whereas that is the width of the appliances. Luckily there was some tolerance so a comfortable fit was obtained.

Give it a name and promote it as a selling point. So, we have the New Year sales, Black Friday, Bank Holiday Madness and, probably, others that have been latched on to a suitable date in the year. I do remember the New year sales with some fondness, when it did appear that items were genuinely cheaper to buy. I also remember that these items were mostly things that we wanted, but didn’t need. The New Year sales were fun because we could go shopping for bargains that were only available then. A bit later on and sales began to appear at other times and now, of course, they have lost their cachet and are a chance for retailers to sell things to us at the price they intended to anyway. I rather like the myth built up around Black Friday. I wonder who decided that we should use this day to do all our Christmas shopping? I also wonder if the research is genuine of wishful thinking.

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Whether or not that was a bad buy would depend on how the product was described. If it was marketed as complete and as good as a comparable TV and it turned out to be materially deficient then that would have been a breach of the Consumer Rights Act. Unfortunately, buyers don’t always seek their statutory remedies [and shops don’t always accept their liabilities].

Regarding your article on dubious discounts for black Friday , I was looking for a couple of laptops and went onto the Lenovo site via topcashback on the Thursday before black Friday and was pleased to see the idea pad 310/15 core i3 at the web price of £349.99 each reduced from £429.99 so I thought these won’t get any less than that tomorrow so I bought 2 . Then on the Friday I looked again and lo and behold they were on sale at £299.99 each ! I was a bit ****** off to say the least ha ha but it just goes to show that there some genuine bargains out there and as far as Lenovo concerned , there were delivered on the Friday, brilliant ! so I couldn’t send them back and reorder ha ha.

Gail Barry says:
30 November 2016

I wasn’t looking for a deal but I looked at the offers shops were advertising – as usual, ‘up to so many%’ off which means there would be only a few items with the top amount off, or offers on ‘selected lines’ so you have to look carefully for the few bargains while you’re tempted by the full price stock. The ‘up to’ offer I’ve called ghosts as they’re printed in tiny size, overshadowed by the enormous percent off offer