Black Friday deals might not always be the bargains they seem to be, warn 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.
They advise on exercising caution when a price seems too good to be true as there could be a sinister reason why.
They also advise watching out for 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.
They also say the fact something is appearing in the pre-Christmas bonanza doesn't mean you can't get it cheaper elsewhere.
Although bargains are available at a good price, it may be possible to get a better deal if you shop around.
Officers are also advising caution when it comes to credit deals as consumers could find themselves still paying for this Christmas as the next one rolls around.
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, usually 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.
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.
Rather that using your debit card for purchases over £100, it is worth you using a credit card as you have additional legal protection. This means you are covered for a variety of situations. For example, you should not have to pay for something which wasn’t fit for purpose or never arrived. The card company is jointly liable with the retailer for any breach of contract. This same protection is not afforded to debit cards.
Other warning signs include accepting bank transfer payments only, accepting more than one offer for an item on an auction site, and giving very little information about the item or seller, as well as postage and returns.
Councillor John Riddle, Northumberland County Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning, Housing and Resilience 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 buyers remorse can take many forms.
“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.”
Dave Sayer, Business Compliance and Public Safety Unit Manager said: “If possible, buy from internet traders you know and trust. For unknown traders, search for reviews online, or check out their customer ratings. 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.”
For any general advice on good or services you have purchased then the following link will be of benefit https://www.northumberland.gov.uk/Protection/Trading-standards.aspx
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 03454 040506.