Published On: Thu, Jan 19th, 2017

Consumers Cautioned Against Buying Tech Gadgets in Black Friday

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Consumer advocated are cautioning buyers against purchasing tech gadgets on massive sale days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday held during the final months of the year. Consumers are widely mislead about prices on these days, advocates say. The “deals” people are getting may not actually be deals at all.

Illusory Bargains

Stores have fashioned days like Black Friday to sell items in amounts worth an entire shopping season. Customers are easily lured by seemingly advantageous deals that promote massive discounts by half or two-thirds of an original price. But consumer rights activists are quick to point out that these “bargains” do not look like bargains once the price history of a product is considered.

For example, a laptop may come with an affordable price tag. But, once the product beginning selling, it becomes scarce, and the listed price goes up. The so-called bargains on Black Friday and Cyber Monday sell such gadgets for this original price. But because the stores advertise the rollback to the original price as a discount, customers are misled to believe that they are purchasing the item at a reduced rate.

Advocated are strongly encouraging consumers to check the price history of any given product. It can be done online on sites like Camelcamelcamel and Slickdeals Price Tracker. These sites provide basic price history for most items listed on Amazon.

Highly Inaccurate Prices are Rampant

Customers are also highly vulnerable to certain “dirty tricks” deal seasons, advocated warn. Once such tactic is where the stores may advertise a cheaper price for an older model of a newly released item. It’s not always easy to distinguish between older and newer models of items like TVs, speaker sets or projectors. For example, a store might advertise a 30-inch television model released this year for the price of the same item released about two years ago. The consumer is led to believe that he or she is buying the new model for a reduced price, when in fact it’s the older model that is sold.

One way to make sure that a consumer is purchasing the valid model is to check the manufacturer issued stock keeping unit identifiers (SKUs). However, custom SKUs, issued by manufacturer to the distributor, do not reflect the item model.  It’s also possible to identify between new and older models by knowing the real model number.

Mind the “Exclusive” Deals

Sellers can intentionally mix up items and sell older items claiming them to be new especially when “exclusive” deals are offers. Consumer rights groups warn customers to beware of such deals and bundle deals that pop-up during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In bundle deals, sellers may throw in older items where custom SKUs differ in minor ways with a new item. The buyer believes all the items are new, when in fact they are not.

Sellers may also list features for items on sale including features that are only available in newer models. This type of tactic does not constitute as misleading advertising technically. However, they do result in customers believing inaccurate item descriptions.

Consumers can protect themselves against such practices by being vigilant and buying items only when truly needed, according to advice provided by advocates. Tech buyers, especially, are encouraged to research products in advance. Advocated highly recommend gadget buyers to visit budget tech sites to educate themselves about all available prices and availability of cheaper generic versions of products.

Consumers should not rush to purchase products on seemingly lucrative “deal” days like Black Friday. Instead, it’s strongly advised to buy older models at cheaper rates than to chase bargain prices for the latest models.