/ Shopping

Black Friday: do you have any sales shopping regrets?

Black Friday sales

The Black Friday sales are now supposedly over, although you might still find some deals kicking around. Did you get caught up in Black Friday discount fever? Did you get a real deal, or are you now suffering buyer’s remorse?

It’d probably be fair to describe Black Friday as ‘a bit marmite’.

Much like Christmas, Black Friday encroaches further into the winter calendar each year with some retailers now starting their sales at the beginning of November. And like Christmas, for some people ‘Black Friday fever’ could seem to drag on forever.

On the other hand, if you’re on the lookout for a bargain then November could be rife with anticipation. Though not all deals are as good as they seem, there are potentially hundreds of pounds to be saved on big-screen TVs, Christmas presents for relatives or simply a gift to yourself.

Black Friday deals

Whichever side of the fence you sit on, one thing’s for sure – Black Friday is all but inescapable.

Needling its way into your brain like a catchy song, the incessant marketing makes it difficult to ignore the nagging feeling that even if there’s nothing concrete on the list, you should really find something to treat yourself.

I consider myself a savvy shopper, but I also love a bargain – and the two don’t always go hand in hand. I bought a few things over the Black Friday weekend. A couple were things I wanted rather than needed, so I’d been patiently waiting for a good deal before buying. I had a price in mind and sure enough, they were discounted and saved me more than a few quid.

For a couple of other deals, I was sucked in… ‘Buy X and get Y for just £20 more’ (when Y usually costs £50). I didn’t really need ‘Y’, but I bought it anyway. The other was something I might need in the future, but definitely don’t need now. It was too late – the retailers had won, seducing me into buying stuff I could really have done without.

Sales shopping

You might be in a similar boat, and no doubt records being broken for Black Friday sales will be accompanied by records being broken for the number of items being returned.

Fortunately we live in a world where returning stuff – even online, should be fairly easy if you’re quick. We have advice on returning an online purchase and returning in-store, plus if you’re the recipient of a Black Friday-opportunist gift, we have advice for that as well.

Or you might be better at staving off this hypnotic marketing – ignoring the constant calls to save money in almost every advert, newspaper or storefront for the best part of a month. My question to these savvy folks is, how do you do it? Is there really nothing you want to buy, or are you just better at resisting?

I can’t say I’ve learned a lesson from my Black Friday splurging. I’ll still consider myself to be a savvy shopper, still do my research in advance and still try to avoid buying things I don’t really need. But perhaps I could try a bit harder.

How have you found the Black Friday period? Are you relieved it’s over? Did you buy anything, are you pleased with your purchases or do you have a classic case of buyer’s remorse?

Spend a couple of minutes completing our short survey and let us know about your own experiences in the comments below.


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I didn’t set out to buy anything in the Black Friday sales, but I did find it fairly helpful to get some savings on some Christmas presents. Luckily, I know that the recipients of these Black Friday purchases will like their Christmas presents as it’s what they’ve asked for 🙂

I managed to get a really good deal on some headphones, which I was in the market for anyway, and they work really well! No regrets… yet!

A long time ago the family used to enjoy the new year sales and these usually gave us a new jacket, suit or outfit at a good discount. That was it until the next year. More recently sales have received catchy names and have proliferated so that there’s always a sale on somewhere, be it Summer Madness, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, New Year, Boxing Day and all stations to Waterloo. What’s interesting about Black Friday, is the myth, promulgated, that on that day everyone buys their Christmas presents and shops are jammed with customers. Boxing Day is the time to get all those Christmas presents we didn’t buy, with the assumption that the shops want to get rid of them and, thus, discount the stock. The New Year, is the new me and shops needing space for all their new stock.
My approach has been to use these sales to buy what I actually need now, and not in the future. Generally, I don’t get excited by the offers, because most of them are not worth the bother of the chase and prices can be just the same at other times of the year. The best bargains for me are ones where there is a hammer and a cheeky bid gets something worth three times what it’s worth.

Stan Robertson says:
28 November 2017

I reserved a HP laptop online from Currys PC World on Black Friday and collected it from the Dundee store the next day. The price was £280, a £70 discount on the previous price. I was told I must pay an additional £40 for a backup memory stick or the 1 year HP warranty would not cover the computer if it proved to be faulty. The sales lady was very threatening saying I would not be able to backup the computer myself as no instructions were in the box. Much confusing jargon was thrown at me, perhaps because she thought I was too old to understand (I am 80). In effect the charge was for protection of the 1 year warranty. I protested but eventually gave in to the pressure being put on me and paid £320. I can still return the computer and get my money back but it works perfectly and I have installed various programs on it. Any advice?

I would suggest you contact HP and ask them to confirm whether the warranty is invalidated if you don’t have a back-up on a memory stick. They will tell you (I expect) that you do not have to. Then contact the group Chief Executive sebastian.james@dixonscarphonegroup.com to tell him you were forced to buy a product by misrepresentation and that you will take legal action under the Consumer Rights Act unless you are compensated. You were quoted £280 and that is what you should pay. Good luck!.

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I agree with malcolm r.

I suspect Currys PC World have been making a killing over the Black Friday Weekend.

On Sunday, I visited my local Office World. There were hardly any customers there and, next door, Maplin was very quiet too. I then strayed into Currys PC World, where it was teaming with punters, literally queuing up to buy stuff.

I note that Stan said: “The sales lady was very threatening saying I would not be able to backup the computer myself as no instructions were in the box.” Even if that were true [see 1 later]… the Internet, what’s that???

…If only HP had a customer support website, they could use it to set out their recommendations for customers needing to backup and/or recover their PCs…

…If only there were free PC backup and recovery software, perhaps called Macrium Reflect, that home users could download and use for free…

…If only there were some kind of internet TV service, perhaps called YouTube, where we could watch videos that show how to freely download Windows10 from Microsoft and then install it for free…

Footnote [1] – last time I bought a new HP PC, it came with a user guide pre-installed on its hard disc and a pre-installed system care app that links up to HP’s website.

Hence I’d argue that Stan was skilfully lied to, by inferring that, because there would not be detailed _paper_ manuals in the box, no documentation would be supplied as part of the package.

I noticed that Curry’s PC World had a lot of bad mentions in a recent Which? Conversation on Black Friday deals – see:

It is possible that the company looks forward to BF as National Take-the-Customer-to-the-Cleaners Day and has a sales programme for its staff to make sure they take full advantage of every innocent computer user.

Curry’s certainly lives in a non-PC world.

I’ll support the Shonky award scheme, that Patrick T promotes, for this kind of behaviour. Are Which? brave enough to launch the UK version, alongside Best Buy?

I’m not sure it’s a matter of bravery. Which? already have Don’t buys and I suspect they’re quite strong enough. There’s something about the use of a term (whose etymological roots may be Yiddish) like Shonky that sounds slightly gimmicky.

I agree, Ian. Shonky is not a word in my dictionary and when I typed it here, the computer wanted to change it to ‘chunky’. ‘Don’t Buy’ is a clear message. If you try to shame companies, Which? could soon be seen in a negative way.

This is about a company though, not an individual product. Which? have hardly condemned Amazon for their treatment of customers supplied with illegal 2 pin plugs for example, nor Currys for their contempt for customers, As for the term, a UK version would use a UK descriptor. In most cases I regard a “don’t buy” as lacking in performance compared to other products, quite a mild accolade.

Which? have shamed companies – Hotpoint recently. energy companies, VW. I see nothing negative in publicising major deficiencies when they are supported by proper evidence (not always the case).

I suggested a UK version of “shonky”, which was meant to infer a suitable name.

I think it would be better to pursue these issues with Trading Standards. We still have no evidence that Which? is pushing the government to restore TS as an organisation that will be sufficiently resourced to function adequately.

As we have discussed elsewhere, many are unable to deal with Trading Standards directly and have to go through the rigmarole of dealing with a third party that does not seem to follow up complaints.

In Stan’s case his first port of call should, I believe, be with the supplier – Curry’s. I’d expect TS would suggest this if they could be reached.

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Morning all 🙂 I hope our Don’t Buys send a message to consumers, but having an award for them could be interesting. This Conversation is about Black Friday though, can we please keep it on topic. Thanks.

I have already suggested that in the UK the term Shoddy Awards would be perfectly well understood by the British public.

In this case regarding Curry’s it is not a product per se but the way the company treats customers and bamboozles them. I have worked in several organisations where pay and bonuses were derived directly from sales and lead to poor behaviours. It is unpleasant for staff and customers – excluding some sociopaths who delight in ripping people off.

Shoddy Awards would be a big plus in getting Which? more obviously identified as a pro-consumer body. The Which? Awards may be a nice carrot but Which? also needs a stick that the public see being wielded.

You should have tried Google this is the top return:

adjective: shonky; comparative adjective: shonkier; superlative adjective: shonkiest

dishonest, unreliable, or illegal, especially in a devious way.
“shonky political goings-on”

noun: shonky; plural noun: shonkies; noun: shonk; plural noun: shonks

a person engaged in suspect business activities.
“we need to rid the building industry of these shonkies quickly”

I’m not sure I agree. As I’ve said we already have Don’t buys, which is specific and forthright. I suspect once W? went down the road of using what I see as a ‘Gimmicky’ approach, it could stand to lose some credibility.

Anyway, Al;ex has asked us to stop discussing that in this topic.

But you are discussing it. 😀 I suggest if the discussion is to continue it should be moved to The Lobby.

The warning about Black Friday sales is that many may not be what they seem. But we all like to think we’ve bagged a bargain, even if it is something we didn’t need.

Yes, Malcolm; well spotted. I was responding to Patrick’s posting the detail of a link and taking the opportunity to remind him that we’ve been asked not to. And I wouldn’t have had to do this, had you not commented…

I think what is going on is way beyond bad service, which is just carelessness or delinquency, and amounts to management-directed customer exploitation. It has been pointed out to the company many times but they have ignored it. It has been reported here many times and there was some engagement and promises on one occasion but no substantive action has been taken. There is no morality and no shame within the company. Its behaviour is despicable because it is unfair, persistent, and dishonest. They have taught staff to be untruthful, given them wrong ideas of professional retail conduct, and destroyed the true concept of customer service. They have managed to combine the culture of the barrow-boy and the bunco booth in a business model that is essentially corrupt.

But enough of their good points…

Stan Robertson says:
30 November 2017

Thanks to all who responded to my original post.I could not agree more with John Ward. I returned to the Dundee store yesterday to complain about my experience. The less than sympathetic young Know How section manager argued about everything I said. He was clearly following a company script on dealing with such complaints. I invited him to read this blog but he emphatically refused. When he eventually realised I was not for giving up, he offered to refund the £40 set up charge but then found his computer would not allow this. He then consulted his manager and quickly returned to say I could have a full refund. They would take back the computer, although no longer saleable as it had several programmes installed on it by me. I accepted the refund of £320 and left the store vowing never to deal with Currys/PC World again.

Well done Stan.

It would be nice to categorise these experiences so people could refer to Which? and see the stunts pulled by the named companies and by encouraged by the successful outcomes.

I hope you left no personal information on the computer, and that you had not paid for the software. It seems a curious and illogical solution by Currys. I bet they do repackage the computer for sale – it has been known. Far more sensible for them to have found a way to give a £40 refund, plus something for your inconvenience.

I’d still email the CEO to complain about the incident – nothing to be lost.

Aye, well done Stan 🙂

So – to recap the final twist – in spite of CPCW having prepared (and sold) a system recovery backup USB stick with that PC, they claimed that, either with or without that, they would have had no way of rolling the machine back to its “factory settings”.

In other words, in their final attempt at “hurt & rescue”, to make you feel guilty about returning that PC, they were prepared to state that they had made you pay £40 for an entirely useless device.

For the record, I expect that most, if not all, new PCs come with a “recover to factory settings” option pre-installed on the machine. Separate recovery media are normally only needed for recovery after hard drive failures.

And, all that having been said, users may need some means by which they can back up any precious data that they may have. These days, one has the choice of doing that via the cloud or via local hardware, or both or neither. (As regards local media, £40 is about the right price for a 500GB “spinning rust” USB hard drive or a 128GB solid state USB stick.)

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Sparkythedog says:
29 November 2017

Advised my sister-in-law to buy an HP PAVILION laptop from Curry’s because she particularly wanted one with a cd/dvd drive. The price was attractive at £379 and she duly ordered and received confirmation. When I next looked on the Curry’s website the price was quoted as £499. She got an email the next day to say there would be a delay in delivery. This was followed by an email saying the item was out of stock and she could ring an 0844 number to arrange a refund or an alternative. The laptop is still showing as in stock at Curry’s stores at the higher price. So what’s the game?

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Especially around sales times, retailers often do limited special offers, in which a limited number of units are sold at loss leading prices.

In the past, both Tandys and Maplin used to do this and I often suspect that some of the Aldi and Lidl weekly bargains may fit this pattern too.

I think Currys PC World (“CPCW”) have used these techniques for a long time too.

In some ways, their pricing policies mirror those used in the insurance and energy markets, where very low prices are used to attract new customers, after which various means are then used to ratchet up the price.

Anyone who wants to buy a new PC without playing these silly games would be well advised to avoid buying at CPCW.

If you are unsure about your choice of PC you might even take advantage of CPCW, by first visiting their store to “showrooom” the products, before buying your chosen item elsewhere. Arguably though, the costs of folk doing that will be driving up the prices paid by those who are content to purchase on CPCW’s standard tariffs.

Chris Burley says:
2 December 2017

Tesco’s Direct on black Friday upped the discounted price of the 32″ Sharp TV when every time I clicked on buy it add to basket by £30.
Rang to complain would n’t budge so sent an e mail they honoured the price Of £149 which should have increased to £179 on black Friday but had not been properly updated on all screens
In the local store it was on a black ticket of £209 special price.
I had checked a cheap JVC TV on Currys but that too went up £10 on Black Friday.
So it makes one very sceptical about Black Friday check first.

Bob Sage says:
2 December 2017

I ‘succumbed’ to Black Friday to the extent that I bought one classical CD that had 10% off, and was one I had already earmarked to purchase! I bought online, and went nowhere near any shops advertising Black Friday. I’m pleased to report that as I result I still have my sanity and an intact bank balance…

I was fortunate as an item that I intended to buy in December became available from John Lewis, the store that I intended to buy from on Black Friday. I made a saving of £50 and was glad that I had bothered to check. I was lucky on this occasion and I feel that if the timing is right it is worth checking specific Black Friday deals

I bought a new tv & sound box &dvd player from richer sounds after looking on the which site recomended best buys and I am very pleased with my purchases, alltogether saving about £300

Hi Tim, that’s great to hear. Were you looking to buy a new TV, or was it an impulse buy?