Black Friday sales - Watch out for scams and be aware of your rights
15 Nov 2022
Black Friday deals might not always be the bargains they seem to be warns Northumberland County Council’s Trading Standards.
While many offers are genuine, some are not, and the Council’s Trading Standards officers are advising consumers to be wary when buying early Christmas gifts or snapping up a treat for themselves.
Do your research
Before buying from a website that you have not used before, spend a few minutes checking it out.
See what people have said about the person or company you are buying from by looking at reviews on different websites – do not rely on reviews the company has put on its own website.
Make sure the trader has a genuine address and landline number you can contact them on if things go wrong, not just an email address.
If possible, always buy from internet traders you know and trust.
Be wise to scams in disguise
If a bargain seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Beware of sellers who promote great offers via online marketplaces such as eBay or Facebook and to be sceptical if they offer hard-to-get items, such as the must-have Christmas toy that has been out of stock with all major retailers.
If it is branded but a lot cheaper than it appears on the brand’s website, it could be fake. Or it could be a legitimate ‘look-a-like’ product. Either way, it might not be the quality you were hoping for.
Ways to pay
Beware of a seller who asks you to pay by direct bank transfer. Bank transfers have limited protection if things go wrong, so avoid using them.
You should only send and receive money through the online marketplace app or website using a debit or credit card, or via trusted methods of payment such as PayPal.
Rather than using your debit card for purchases over £100, it is worth you using a credit card as you have additional legal protection.
Know your rights
When buying goods in a shop, you are not automatically entitled to a refund if you change your mind, unless the goods or services are not of satisfactory quality, not fit for purpose or not as described.
Some shops do have their own return policies, so it is worth checking what these are before you buy.
When buying goods online, it is important to know your rights: You have a cooling off period, a minimum of 14 days, which starts the day after you receive the order. This period allows you to return the goods because you have changed your mind, although be aware that you may be liable for the return costs.
It is advisable to make a note of the dates you bought the item, when you received it and check the returns policy. If you return the item, do so within the cooling off period and get proof of postage.
If you have bought from a private individual, perhaps via an online marketplace, you have far fewer rights. In fact, you have no right to return, so long as the goods are ‘as described’.
Always be sure to take a screenshot of the description and be sure to check and double check before you buy.
When things go wrong
If you’ve bought something that is broken, damaged, unsafe, or not what you expected then contact the seller and give them a chance to put it right.
If that does not work, or if you’re worried that something you have seen online might be a scam you can get help from the Citizens Advice Helpline 0808 223 1133.
Northumberland County Councillor, Colin Horncastle, Cabinet member for community services said:
“Black Friday now seems to be the start of the big Christmas push by retailers and there are undoubtedly bargains to be had, but with purse strings tightening, and financial pressures increasing, we all need to keep our wits about us when shopping online.
“It’s vital that we take our time and look out for the red flags when trying to bag a bargain.
“Our Trading Standards receive regular complaints from shoppers who, after shopping online inadvertently bought counterfeit goods, or the trader they paid disappeared, or the goods or services they purchased never arrived.
“Fraudsters will be exploiting this time of year, where people are looking for Christmas gifts at bargain prices. Don’t rush to buy - just taking a few minutes to check whether the deal is legitimate could save you from being ripped off.”
If you think you have received or been victim to a scam or bought counterfeit or unsafe goods, please call Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.