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How to tell a proper Cyber Monday bargain from a fake sale

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Some retailers will claim an eye-watering discount on a product while burying the fact that it’s last year’s model

Some retailers will claim an eye-watering discount on a product while burying the fact that it’s last year’s model

Some retailers will claim an eye-watering discount on a product while burying the fact that it’s last year’s model

Black Friday is tomorrow. But with Cyber Monday around the corner, most sales will continue for another week.

As usual, there’s some world-class spoofing going on from Irish retailers about discounts and recommended retail prices (RRP).

You won’t be able to depend on Irish authorities to police the fakery, with the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission admitting they rarely enforce misleading pricing rules.

So here are some simple tips on how you can get extra cash off.

1. Check historical prices

Nothing busts a ‘sales’ fib like evidence that it was the same price as the current Black Friday one a few months back. It isn’t that easy to divine, but there are some useful tools. Camelcamelcamel.com is excellent for tracking prices on Amazon.co.uk, itself a useful barometer of what market pricing has been for any individual item.

2. Make sure it’s the current model that’s ‘discounted’

This is a really sneaky one. I’ve come across retailers who will claim an eye-watering discount on an Apple product – such as a MacBook Air – while burying the fact that it’s last year’s model. The printed RRP is utterly misleading as it belongs to an historical product that Apple no longer sells. Those who follow tech product cycles will know, but many regular folks won’t.

3. Watch out for small retailers outside the EU

A search for a product on Google can sometimes point to seemingly-amazing bargains from websites with .ie or .co.uk domains. Look more closely, though, and you’ll see they’re based in Asia or elsewhere outside the EU. That puts them in line for a nasty customs charge, as well as a potentially prolonged retrieval process. This used to be a problem for shopping from Amazon.co.uk, but it seems to have sorted out this issue.

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4. A simple Google search

Google the item you’re looking at with the word ‘Ireland’. In most cases, this is the quickest way to see what a variety of retailers are charging for the same product.

5. Genuine cashback schemes

It’s not all a lookout for dodgy sales claims. Some platforms have now introduced, or are expanding, cashback schemes in time for Black Friday sales. For example, Revolut has just launched a 3pc cashback process that works for online stores such as Samsung, Nike, Ralph Lauren and Pretty Little Things. It’s not easy to use at first, but it’s well worth knowing about.


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