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Black Friday sales - Watch out for scams and be aware of your rights

PUBLISHED: 14:55 19 November 2018 | UPDATED: 15:02 19 November 2018

Previous Black Friday sales in Ipswich town centre. Suffolk Trading Standards has issued advice to avoid falling prey to scams. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Previous Black Friday sales in Ipswich town centre. Suffolk Trading Standards has issued advice to avoid falling prey to scams. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Black Friday bargains are already appearing in shops and online - but how can you avoid falling for scams and bogus offers

The special day has now expanded way beyond 24 hours, with retailers offering deals and discounts in the days and weeks either side of Friday, November 23.

More than 50% of us are now interested in Black Friday. But, while many offers are genuine, some are not, and Suffolk Trading Standards is advising consumers to be wary when buying early Christmas gifts or snapping up a treat for yourself.

The watchdog warns that, if a price does seem too good to be true, there could be a sinister reason why.

Sellers of counterfeit items or goods that don’t meet safety standards may use the excitement of Black Friday sales to sell their goods. Online scammers may also take payments but never send the promised goods.

However, there is some protection for larger purchases in particular. Lesley Crompton, Suffolk Trading Standards officer, said: “If you use a credit card to make purchases of over £100, you have legal protection.

“This means you are covered for a variety of situations. For example, you should not have to pay for something which wasn’t fit for purpose or never arrived. The card company is jointly liable with the retailer, under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.”

Trading standards advises watching out for sellers who promote offers that seem too good to be true, often via online marketplaces such as eBay or Facebook. Be sceptical if they offer hard-to-get items, such as the must-have Christmas toy that has been out of stock with all major retailers.

Other warning signs include accepting bank transfer payments only, accepting more than one offer for an item on an auction site, and giving very little information about the item or seller, as well as postage and returns.

Richard Rout, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for environment and public protection, said: “I’ll be looking for some good deals myself on Black Friday, and this advice from Trading Standards is excellent. Our officers do great work all year round, to keep Suffolk safe from scammers, to prevent unsafe items from entering the market place and to stop counterfeit goods being sold.”

Sale shopping - your statutory rights

In a shop, you are not automatically entitled to a refund if you change your mind, but only if the goods or services are not of satisfactory quality, not fit for purpose or not as described.

Some shops do have their own return policies, so it is worth checking what these are before you buy.

When you buy something online, you have a cooling off period, usually 14 days, which starts the day after you receive the order.

This period allows you to return the goods because you have changed your mind. At this time of year, though, many retailers extend this cooling off period to allow returns to be made after Christmas.

Make a note of the dates you bought the item, when you received it and check the returns policy. If you return the item, do so within the cooling off period and get proof of postage.

If you have concerns about the safety of any item you have bought, you can report it to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506.

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