One of the busiest shopping weekends of the year is coming up. Black Friday—which started as an American event tied in to the U.S. Thanksgiving celebration, but which has spread to Canada and other parts of the world—falls on November 24 this year, and is followed quickly by Cyber Monday on November 27. Canadians from coast to coast will be trying to cut the best deals possible in the run-up to Christmas Day, with the average Canadian spending around $1,500 over the holidays.
“This is a time to be wary about how and where you spend your money,” says Evan Kelly, senior communications advisor for the Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Mainland BC. “Shop around. Just because a store says it’s the best deal all year, doesn’t mean it is. You may even want to ask yourself if you really need the item. Be careful of the impulse buy!”
Kelly says that it is a highly competitive market, especially as regards big ticket items such as TVs. “Sales are on all year long. Track them, and keep tabs on them. Just because Black Friday is here doesn’t mean you’ll get the best deals.”
The BBB offers several tips to help you make the right purchase on Black Friday:
* Check the ads, check the competition, and check the flyers, both online and what shows up at the door. Find the best deal on the specific product you’re looking for. In short: do your homework.
* Signing up for email alerts means you might be in the know before other shoppers; but make sure you’ve signed up on a legitimate website.
* Monitor social media feeds for good deals, but be wary of click-bait ads. If the product is too cheap, it’s too good to be true.
* Make sure you understand return/refund policies. If it’s not posted: ask. This information should be available online as well. Some deeply discounted or discontinued items could be final sale only.
* Make sure you understand any and all warranties on new products.
It’s estimated that 90 per cent of consumers will purchase online at some point, during Black Friday/Cyber Monday and at other times. Here are a few things to be aware of:
* Purchase using credit cards.
* Make sure the website of the site you are purchasing from is encrypted with “https://” in the URL.
* Make sure the URL is legitimate and not a spoofed version; i.e.: www.ebay.com, not www.ebay1.ml.
* Use reputable payment portals like PayPal or Verified by Visa.
* Read the terms and conditions when it comes to delivery and refunds
* Order on time so gifts arrive before Christmas.
* Do not online shop through public Wi-Fi.
* Avoid clicking links if you don’t know where they’re from.
* Be wary of slick pop-up ads; go to the company website first.
* Update your anti-virus software.
* Check your credit card statements regularly.
The BBB also warns people to be aware of fake delivery invoices purporting to come from Canada Post, UPS, or Amazon. They will allude to your order being “stuck in transit”, and urge you to click on a link and/or input information, such as a credit card or Social Insurance number.
Is the introduction general in nature (“Dear Customer”), and does the message contain bad grammar and spelling? If so, delete the email, and do not click on any links or provide any information. If in doubt, go to the site where you placed your order and check there for any information and updates.