Friday 14 December 2018

How to bag a Black Friday deal: Consumer expert Sinead Ryan rounds up the best offers

With shopaholics' clicking fingers at the ready, consumer expert Sinead Ryan has rounded up the best offers out there

Only use your credit card with trusted retailers
Only use your credit card with trusted retailers
Sinead Ryan

Sinead Ryan

Jammies on, coffee poured, and laptop open? It's Black Friday - where else would you be? Certainly not trudging around shops in the rain when you could be clicking online instead. But is it all it's cracked up to be, or is the hype over-played?

Where are the best deals?

The best deals are found in well-known stores where you can easily check the pre-sale price and they don't muck loyal customers about. Products that are available in lots of outlets are also better discounted to attract your money - for instance, homewear retailers like EZ Living, Harvey Norman and Argos know those buying big-ticket items will already have scanned price tags on furniture and genuinely price down and offer in-store, as well as online, discounts.

Argos and Curry's PC World tend to have really good discounts every year, but you'll find them only on selected items rather than top-of-the-range latest gadgets. Debenhams always has a good sale, but again, not on everything. Womenswear and make-up are items to check out, with up to half price on beauty and some fragrances. Even Eason's is getting in on the act, with 30pc off everything using the promo code "Black" online. To qualify as a sale, an item must have been available at a higher price for the preceding 28 days at least. Sites like Trustpilot verify the bona fides of a website, while Flubit will find Amazon goods cheaper elsewhere if they exist. Never click through unsolicited emails to a website.

When do sales start and end?

Many are already underway, as stores get ahead of the posse. But you can assume that everywhere will have a Black Friday 'special' from midnight Thursday. Some stores will drag it out over the weekend, especially with surplus stock, but you could really pick up a bargain by calling into your local retailer and grabbing what's left over.

How can I take advantage of good sterling rates?

Sterling's loss is our gain, and it's currently languishing at around €1.13. Few UK retailers offer a pure exchange rate, so the best bet for bargains is to avoid shopping in euro (site analytics will detect you're in Ireland and automatically switch you with a built-in cushion against currency fluctuations), but rather manually click on GBP and buy in sterling. Your bank will then make a pure conversion, plus a currency exchange fee.

The website I'm using won't ship to Ireland. What can I do?

An Post's AddressPal, DPD's Parcel Wizard or Parcel Motel all allow shipping to a Northern Ireland 'virtual' address and then send the item down to depots or homes in the Republic. Charges start at around €3.95 plus the original shipping cost, depending on size/weight.

Parcel Motel is a good way to get around UK-only deliveries
Parcel Motel is a good way to get around UK-only deliveries

A UK retailer claims returns aren't allowed because Brexit means they're no longer in the EU. Is this true?

No. They haven't left yet! Until at least December 2020, they operate under EU consumer laws.

I'm buying a laptop from China and a dress from the US. What rights do I have if something goes wrong?

None. Consumer laws as we understand them don't extend outside EU borders. It could even be worse: tariffs, VAT and customs duties may be applied to items (they vary by country and product), and these must be collected by whoever delivers to your door.

Products from Asia in particular attract counter-veiling (anti-dumping) duties, which can be extremely high; this is a tax to prevent the import of products which are far cheaper than in the EU.

You can find out all duties by consulting the EU Taric website (http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs).

I'm worried about my credit card being scammed. What can I do?

If possible, use PayPal to pay for items. If you're using a credit card and it is fraudulently applied, you can get a refund from your bank under its 'chargeback' system, but this does not apply where you have voluntarily handed over your card details. Only use known, trusted retailers when shopping online. If there's a livechat option on the site, ask your questions - and use it to haggle for extra discounts!

Would I be better off waiting til December sales?

You might. Discounts abound from December 27 onwards, but remember, it's surplus stock in many cases, and you may not find exactly what you're looking for. Also, the frenzy of stores after the festivities put many off; for others, that's half the fun!

Give me five things I should definitely do on Black Friday?

Tee up your bargains by following social media accounts of retailers you like. Check prices now, so you don't lose the run of yourself. Big retailers will all have sales on, but don't forget daily deal sites:

  • Pigsback is offering VeryFit Plus Pro Bluetooth Smart Watches for €19.99, an 85pc discount. It also has a Blue Diamond 39in LED HD ready TV for €199.99 (down from €379.99) from AKH Concepts;
  • Virgin Media has some great offers for new and existing customers. New customers signing up to a €59 p.m. triple play (TV, phone, broadband) for 12 months, will get a free 32in LG Smart TV worth €379. Current broadband or TV customers who get an iPhone 8 or Samsung Galaxy S9 on their 24-month contract will only pay €35 for four months, €60 thereafter and get a UE Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker and charging pad worth €134 for free. A Huawei phone comes with a free smartwatch;
  • Harvey Norman has up to 50pc off a range of mattresses, including top of the range Centenery King Size, now €1,673, a saving of €1,026. They deliver free once you spend €500;
  • Currys PCWorld has a Samsung Fridge Freezer at €399, which was previously €779.99, and a HP Pavilion i3 Laptop for €479 (down from €719.99);
  • AerLingus has a 'Black Flyday' discount on flights to North America with €100 off west coast destinations for travel between Jan 8-March 22. Ryanair is offering some European destinations from €4.89 each way on a daily Cyber Week sale.

Oops. I've changed my mind and don't like the stuff I bought - can I return it?

Yes. If you buy online, your consumer rights are stronger than buying in a street store. You have the right to return any item within 14 days from receipt for a full refund, although you may have to pay for postage.

There are some exceptions, such as personalised or perishable goods, intimate items (e.g. swimwear and lingerie removed from packaging) and tickets/hotel vouchers.

Irish Independent

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