On the so-called Black Friday, the bridging day between the US holiday Thanksgiving and the following weekend, retailers lure in with cheap offers. What started in the USA with just one day has meanwhile expanded into a day-long advertising campaign in Germany too.
The promotion consists of the actual Black Friday, which falls on November 25 this yearand also from Black Week, which started on November 21st and runs until Monday November 28th – the so-called Cyber Monday.
Apparently, more days also mean more tricks, which are particularly useful when shopping online. In any case, the German consumer advice centers point out on their joint website that products from some online retailers only appear to be cheaper. Whether it’s a Black campaign week or discounts on other days of the year.
In this context, there is also a warning against outright fraud: If an online retailer, for example on Amazon, only offers payment in advance, there is a high probability of being caught by a scammer. Particular caution is required here, as it is possible that you will not be supplied at all after the payment has been made.
And now to the price tricks of the dealers to watch out for.
Trick 1: The price seems cheap – but only in comparison to the RRP and the old price
What is a cheap price? That depends on the perspective. Some dealers refer to the manufacturer’s recommended retail price (RRP) for their discounts – but these are often undercut in retail anyway. In this context, the Federal Association of Consumers speaks of “moon prices”, so the manufacturers have deliberately set the RRP high.
An offer, whether on Black Friday or on other days, is therefore not automatically cheap just because the price is below the RRP.
Another benchmark that can be deceiving is a manufacturer’s old price. An example: Product X costs less than a month ago. But if product X was already overpriced before, customers may still pay too much with the discount.
Advice from consumer advice centers: Check them out Before making a purchase, always compare prices with at least two price search engines, for example idealo.de, billiger.de or preis.de. There is no one perfect search engine.
Trick 2: Running bars and ticking clocks in the online portal
The abbreviation “FOMO” has meanwhile also entered German usage. It stands for “Fear of missing out”, i.e. the fear of missing something. FOMO serves as the basis for all Black Friday action. Nobody wants to miss out on the cheapest offer. And some retailers also fuel FOMO through the design of their websites.
There you can see, for example, running bars that are supposed to show shrinking inventories. Or a countdown that counts down the time until the end of a supposedly cheap offer. However, customers cannot look into the warehouses. You don’t know how many items are actually still in stock. Therefore: Don’t be unsettled by bars and clocks, but check a price with at least two search engines.
Advice from consumer advice centers: Some online retailers offer free cancellation. It can be worthwhile if an ordered product can be found cheaper elsewhere. Apart from that, customers usually have the right of withdrawal – within 14 days and without giving reasons. However, there may be additional costs for the return.
Trick 3: Dynamic prices – you pay more than others
Anyone who is active on Twitter or Facebook sees an individualized feed of images, videos and texts. It can be similar with prices on the Internet. There are different factors that can influence the price that is displayed to a person at that moment. These factors include, for example:
- time of day
- residential area
- end device
Prices can therefore vary greatly even within a day – depending on how high the demand is and how the prices of the competition are currently developing. The season in turn determines the demand for certain products and thus also the price.
The location can also affect the price. The background: people who pay high rents or own expensive real estate may be more willing to spend more money when shopping. Exactly where users live can be transmitted from the internet browser to the website of a shop.
The same applies to the smartphone or tablet used. Owners of expensive devices may be more willing to make more expensive purchases. This can be taken into account when pricing.
The surfing behavior stored in cookies can, in turn, influence which products users see at all. If you are interested in shoes or cars, these products may be displayed more prominently in the future.
Findings from the consumer centers and the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV) allow the conclusion that prices are currently hardly influenced by the end device used and the location. Nevertheless, according to the law, retailers must inform customers if prices are personalized by an algorithm. It can therefore be worthwhile for customers to look out for relevant information on the respective website.
Advice from consumer advice centers: Delete your cookies regularly in the browser. This makes it harder for retailers to follow your trail on the web. Or surf in the incognito mode of the browser on Black Friday or Black Week. No cookies are used here.
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