Consumers warned not to fall into Black Friday ‘trap’

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Consumers hoping to land a Black Friday bargain are urged to do their homework before reaching into their pockets at malls, electronic goods stores or purchasing online.

Shoppers are lured by ad campaigns of stores promising up to 70% discount on products ranging from supermarket items to high-tech gadgets.

But the Consumer Protection Service is urging people to be wary of offers they perceive as deals.

In an announcement on Wednesday, the Consumer Protection Service said that it will be carrying out checks on Friday, comparing prices to those on price tags a week ago.

This year, due to the pandemic, the Service has also been tasked with checking whether measures introduced to stem the spread of Covid-19 in the community are being implemented by both businesses and customers.

Officials will be checking whether businesses allow more customers than the maximum allowed based on the shop’s size while customers should keep two-metres distance apart and wear masks.

As far as consumers are concerned, the Service urges them not to shop blindly, and to ask the sales assistant about the return policy.

Here is a seven-point to-do list during Black Friday:

  1. Do market research in advance. Locate the products that you may be interested in, and note their price, so that you can more easily have a clear picture of the discount announced on Black Friday.
  2. Do not make hasty purchases. Buy what you really need. Compare prices and product qualities.
  3. Do not buy a product simply because it is on sale. Study the product to make sure that it meets your needs and requirements.
  4. Take advantage of the internet, not only to make purchases but also to find alternative products, reviews for the product you are interested in, as well as the price sold by other suppliers.
  5. Price should not be the only criterion. Especially if you intend to buy a valuable product (e.g. a mobile phone, computer), it is important to evaluate the reliability and quality of service provided. Ask other consumers about their experiences, such as the seller’s response to warranty issues.
  6. Define your budget in advance. With numerous offers available it will be easy to spend over budget.
  7. Check the store’s return policy before making a purchase. Remember that under European law, there is no legal obligation for in-store purchases, and it is up to each store to decide whether to accept returns or changes. This does not apply to online purchases, where consumers have the right to return the product up to 14 days after receiving it.

Consumers can file complaints by calling the toll-free Consumer Hotline at 1429 or submit their complaints in writing to the Consumer Protection Service www.consumer.gov.cy

Black Friday, a tradition started in the USA which sees stores selling their products at very low prices, has caught on in Cyprus in recent years as more businesses look to increase pre-Christmas sales.

Black Friday is the day after the Thanksgiving Day in the US on the fourth Thursday of November, marking the start of the Christmas shopping season.

Although this period was introduced in 1952, the Black Friday tradition has only gained momentum in the past two decades, expanding beyond the US borders.

A popular interpretation of the term is that on that day the retailers’ bank accounts were in profit, so their balance sheets instead of being written in red, denoting loses, were marked with black ink.