Bigger discounts than usual are expected on Black Friday today. This could lead to more fake offers and price traps. Consumer advocate Julia Gerhards has tagesschau.deinterview a few tips ready.
tagesschau.de: Ms. Gerhards, what trends do you expect for this year’s Black Friday? And do you also think that shopping fans can hope for even better bargains?
Julia Gerhards: It is difficult for us to predict trends for product categories. However, we can well imagine that the day with the special bargains will be used even more intensively than in previous years, because saving money is high on the list of priorities for people due to the skyrocketing prices.
Julia Gerhards is a consultant for consumer law and data protection at the Verbraucherzentrale Rheinland-Pfalz eV Within the framework of a nationwide project, dynamic and personalized prices have been one of her fields of work in recent years.
Consumer center fake shop finder
tagesschau.de: Just this week, the police and consumer advice centers warned of counterfeit shops on the Internet. Are there more such fake offers on Black Friday?
Gerhard’s: Dubious providers simply love to work under time pressure, and Black Friday manages this in several ways: you only have a limited contingent, the discounts are only valid for today and you want to compare as many websites as possible. In addition, on such a day, consumers are more willing to order for the first time from an unfamiliar shop with an allegedly particularly great offer.
tagesschau.de: How can consumers recognize fake offers?
Gerhard’s: We advise consumers to always look at the imprint of the website. Because fake shop or not: the location of a provider in Germany or an EU member state makes it easier to solve problems that arise afterwards.
In addition, the consumer advice center has done some of the work. There is a fake shop finder on our website where I can enter the respective URL. He then rattles off various points such as the imprint and provides an initial assessment of the seriousness of the provider in the form of different colored markings.
There is no perfect time
tagesschau.de: Even with reputable dealers, the offers are not always really cheap. A non-binding price recommendation is often used as a comparison, which can be set arbitrarily and has nothing to do with the real prices. How can consumers still evaluate whether a discount is worth it?
Gerhard’s: For many products, I can use comparison portals to see the price at which they have been sold over the past few months. This gives me the opportunity to evaluate whether the price offered is sensationally cheap, a regular average price or maybe even no discount at all. Another piece of additional information: Sometimes there are absolute price spikes up or down, which can also simply be data errors.
tagesschau.de: Many retailers focus on bulk sales on Black Friday. How do you try to lure customers?
Gerhard’s: There are many things that online shops use to provide the final impulse to buy. This includes, for example, availability, i.e. how many of the products are still in stock. It is very difficult to check in retrospect whether this is true. A purchase decision should not depend on this. Only very rarely does it happen that this seemingly unbeatable offer is only available on one day.
In general, consumers should always make sure that they actually need the exact product in this quantity and configuration. Maybe Black Friday is a day when they get lucky and find a good deal. But like the stock market, believing you have found the perfect time to enter or exit is simply the wrong strategy.
Flexibility in bargain hunting
tagesschau.de: Do you have any other tips and tricks consumers should be aware of today?
Gerhard’s: You have a better chance of getting a bargain today if you have a certain degree of flexibility. For example, in the best-case scenario, you should not only focus on one smartphone, but instead consider several brands or less popular colors. But this is a savings tip that applies all year round.
The most important thing when hunting for a bargain is to keep a cool head and not immediately spend the money you have saved again. And: Never pay in advance! Even when dealing with a reputable retailer, consumers should only pay – i.e. provide their consideration – when they have actually received the goods.
Also, in terms of delivery times, it might be wiser to buy from stores you already know and that you know are reputable and don’t use tricks. Otherwise consumers can hardly protect themselves from the current delivery problems.
tagesschau.de: What can dissatisfied consumers do when they realize that the product wasn’t cheaper than usual or that it didn’t arrive at all?
Gerhard’s: This is exactly why it is so important to buy from a retailer based in Germany or the EU, because then European consumer rights apply. This means that in online retail, customers have two weeks from receipt of the goods to cancel a contract and return the product. You can rely on these legal rules. However, there are certain exceptions such as sealed software. However, the buyer must be informed of this beforehand.
In addition, consumers should only pay with a means of payment that can be used to get the money back – preferably by invoice or direct debit.
The interview was conducted by Till Bücker, tagesschau.de.