Black Friday and Cyber Monday may have their origins Stateside, but we Brits love a bargain, so it’s not surprising that we’ve embraced this unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season.
Last year £1.23 billion was spent online on Black Friday and a huge £6.45 billion was spent during the Black Friday peak period (Monday 21-Monday 28 November 2016, figures from IMRG).
But with so many bargains to be snapped up, how do you make sure that the deal you’re interested in isn’t too good to be true? If you’re tempted by something for sale from an online store that you’ve not bought from before, savvy shoppers from HotUKDeals share their advice for online shopping.
Listen to the alarm bells
If something is surprisingly low in price and you haven’t heard of the retailer, listen to the alarm bells in your head. Make the checks below to see if the company is legitimate, and the offer worthwhile for you to part with your details.
How to cut the cost of Christmas
Check to see if the company is legitimate
Use sites like Endole, Scam Adviser and VAT search to check if a company is legitimate and safe to buy from. These sites let you to see if a company is registered to a credible address and how long it's been operating. If it’s only a short period of time the company may have been trading under a different name, which may have incurred bad reviews or the company may have had a different status.
Checking the address also gives consumers the chance to think about where the company stores stock and where products are sourced from. If stock is shipped from outside the UK, there may be shipping costs to consider, as well as longer delivery times.
Look at websites such as 192.com to check business information, which also lists reviews of companies from consumers, which can help you decide whether to trust them or not. Scam Adviser also includes reviews from customers.
Signs an email may be a scam
Make sure the transaction page is secure
If you’re buying online, always check that the payment page is secure to protect your payments. First check that the web address starts with https:// and then look for a padlock symbol in the address bar or browser window.
Pay with a credit card
Instead of using a debit card for online shopping, it's safer to pay with a credit card as it protects you on purchases over £100 (and up to £30,000) for free, or PayPal, which offers Buyer Protection on eligible items. There are exceptions when using PayPal such as motorised vehicles or money transfers to friends or family, so make sure you check what items are covered if you’re concerned about the reliability of a website.
How to pay safely and securely online
If your PayPal is connected to your credit card then you don’t have the same protection as when paying directly with your credit card, so on any purchase over £100 if you have the option to pay via credit card or PayPal, then a credit card is better.
How a credit card can protect your consumer rights
Ask other shoppers
If you’re still unsure about a retailer and the service they offer, look on shopping and deal forums – members will happily share their experiences of delivery times, customer service and more.
They will also have tips on alternative retailers so you don’t miss out on the items you want to buy at the right price.
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