Cyber Monday 2014 is this Monday, December 1. It follows hard on the heels of Black Friday, is yet another American import and once again is about retailers netting profits rather than you netting a bargain. Pay attention.
Just in the same way that Black Friday ‘bargains’ generate a shopping surge on the high street, so Cyber Monday tempts us to spend with an array of online bargains and deals. But if you get caught up in all the marketing hype how do you actually know you’re gettting a real bargain?
And unlike phsyical sales in stores, it’s just so easy to buy online. You don’t have to wrestle with an equally fired up shopper for the last 25in LED TV on offer, or queue for the checkout.
1. Know your prices.
It’s only a bargain if you’ve done your research and what’s on offer is signficantly cheaper than you can get it elsewhere online (or in store). Come on people! How hard is it to have multiple windows open on your browser so you’re checking prices through a comparision site such as Pricerunner, while you’re monitoring a specific deal you’ve got in mind that’s being offered on a specific site.
2. Be sure you’re comparing like with like.
Be particularly careful when you’re buying technology and where the cheaper offer may actually be a slightly older model or operating system. And watch out for the extras such as delivery charges. The goods may be cheaper but if the delivery is more expensive…
Keep a look out for free delivery options such as collect in store. Sometimes when you buy online there are a range of delivery prices with a premium for next day delivery or goods going overseas. May sure you don’t opt for an expensive option by default.
3. Know your rights.
The Consumer Contracts Regulations came into effect in June. These give you 14 days to return something bought online – after it has been delivered – if you change your mind. But Christmas is some 24 days after Cyber Monday and most deliveries are within days of ordering.
This means that if the gift is not liked, is a duplicate, or you fall out with the recipient before Christmas, you are likely to have run out of time. What does the site you’re buying from say about returns? Keep copies of Ts & Cs. Don’t assume there’ll still be on the website when you go back later to check.
If the item is not as described or advertised you can claim a refund (so keep copies of ads and product descriptions). If it turns out to be faulty you should get a refund under the Sale of Goods Act. But if you give a new mobile or iPad as a Christmas gift you may still have difficulty proving that you’ve not damaged it yourself if you do not complain for a month or more.
Good companies will be good about refunds but not all online retailers are good. One Money Fighter had a long battle when a mobile phone bought online went blank about four weeks after purchase. He was accused of getting it wet. He used one of our templated letters to the company’s chief executive and got it all resolved in 48 hours.
High street shops will usually state on the receipt how long you have to return the item for a full refund – no questions asked. Online retailers should also state their policy for returns if they go beyond what the law requires. Check these out (and print them off) before you buy.