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Citizens Advice Column - October/November 23

Top Tips To Make Black Friday And CyberMonday Work For You

In the world we live in today, for lots of people, there seems to be no ‘rush’ higher than the feeling of spending money. For good, or ill, it makes the world go round.

Black Friday and CyberMonday, on November 24th and November 27th respectively, represent both the height of temptation - coming, as they do, only weeks before Christmas - and the height of risk for those unwilling to apply reasoning to their spending.

Citizens Advice is supporting National Consumer Week this year to help consumers through this difficult period. Between October 16th and October 22nd they are promoting key messages to help consumers avoid the pitfalls of spending too much, spending without an understanding of their consumer rights, and spending in ways that could cause long term harm.

Below are well known, but worth remembering, top tips for making Black Friday and CyberMonday work for you.

  • Check online payments are secure - ensure ‘https’ (the ‘s’ stands for secure) and a padlock icon are present in the browser bar.
  • Know who you are buying from - if buying from a company you have not used before, check reviews and previous customers’ feedback. If in doubt, don’t buy.
  • Be wary of suspicious web links - avoid clicking on email web links. These may direct you to fake (but realistic looking) websites. It is better to type in the website address yourself. Again, if you’re not sure, don’t do it.
  • Know your return rights - remember, with goods bought online, you have a 14-day cooling-off period to cancel most types of orders, return the items and get your money back.
  • Choose the best payment method - paying by credit card for single items costing £100 and over gives you valuable legal protection if goods do not arrive, are faulty, or do not match the description. Paying by credit or debit card for orders costing less than £100 also gives you protection using your card provider’s voluntary ‘Chargeback’ scheme.
  • Know your delivery rights - before you buy, check the company delivers to where you live, the cost and the expected delivery timeframe.
  • Make sure you are spending responsibly - try to remember, a purchase is only a bargain if you need it!
  • Set a sustainable household budget - try to spread your (pre) Christmas spending over several weeks so you aren’t going short on essentials or building a ‘debt hangover’ for January and February.

(Source: The Consumer Council, 2019 - www.consumercouncil.org.uk/blackfriday)

For more information on your consumer rights and protections in general visit the Citizens Advice website at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/.

For information on spotting, stopping and reporting scams visit your local council’s website and enter the search terms, ‘Trading Standards’ or ‘scam prevention’.

For more consumer protection advice geared specifically to Black Friday and CyberMonday go to www.which.co.uk/topic/black-friday.

Finally, if you want to know more about CA’s National Consumer Campaign 2023, go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/our-work/our-campaigns/awareness-raising-campaigns/NCW/ and enter the search term, ‘National Consumer Week’.

According to research published by Citizens Advice in July, one in six people (8.5 million) ended up buying something online last year they didn’t want, need, or came to regret because of online shopping traps used by some retailers.

Nobody wants to turn down a great deal before Christmas. Make sure you are in the know before making costly decisions.

By Ed Hodson
Citizens Advice South Warwickshire - Citizens Advice working in partnership across Warwickshire