How to avoid getting ripped off on Black Friday

Shoppers pass a promotional sign for Black Friday sales discounts on Oxford Street

The most hyped retail event of the year is under way – and shoppers are being bombarded by promises of once-in-a-lifetime deals.

While there are some fantastic offers to be had, Black Friday deals are not always what they seem.

So how can shoppers avoid being ripped off, and what rights do you have if you are not happy with a purchase after the Black Friday dust has settled?

Before you part with your hard-earned cash, take a look at these tips from the consumer experts at Which?

:: Why Britain has embraced Black Friday

Black Friday
Black Friday has become a UK tradition after originating in the US

Perhaps most importantly, you should not simply assume that retailers save their biggest discounts for Black Friday. In previous years it has become apparent that not all discounts are as generous as they sound, with Which? finding that 60% of the items investigated were the same price or even cheaper earlier in the year.

It may be worth checking Which?'s online price predictor before you pull the trigger on that new flatscreen you have your eye on. And make sure you look at the price rather than the discount – a large percentage sticker may not actually equate to a huge amount of money off.

Richard Headland, editor-in-chief of Which? magazine, said: "During big shopping events like Black Friday it can be easy to get overwhelmed by discounts, deals and deductions.

"To get the best out of Black Friday, shoppers should do their research, form a plan and stick to it."

An Amazon warehouse in Peterborough on Black Friday 25 November 2016
Amazon's warehouses will be hives of activity for what is billed as the year's biggest shopping weekend

That said, sometimes a great deal is just that. But if the offer is listed on an online retailer you have not used before, or a store with a less generous warranty offer, it may be worth finding out if one of your preferred shopping destinations will price match.

Other useful tips from Which? include:

:: Be aware of delivery costs – some online retailers may look to make up the cost of the discount with a sizeable fee to get your order to your front door.

:: Shopping online may be slower than usual – smaller sites not used to large volumes of traffic are likely to struggle with increased demand, with slow loading times and crashes likely to frustrate.

:: Check the retailer's returns policy – personalised goods, underwear, computer software and some hygiene products are unlikely to be allowed to be returned, but you should have at least 30 days to have faulty items replaced or fixed.

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