Here at Lincoln Maine FCU, we hate to see your money go to waste, so we’ve put together a list of misleading advertising schemes you may come across when hunting for deals this Black Friday.
Be an informed consumer and shop smartly!
1. Very limited quantities
That $200-off supersized TV screen on the front page of the big-box circular that just landed in your mailbox looks like an incredible deal-until you show up at the store on Black Friday, only to find it’s sold out. Of course, no deal lasts forever, but when a store that has only been open for the day a few hours claims it’s already run out of an item, you can assume it only stocked a very limited quantity. The heavily marked-down and heavily advertised item was a ploy to get you into the store to shop.
When checking out the ads for Black Friday, look for an “In-Stock Guarantee” or a “1-hour In-Stock Guarantee.” This will allow you to take a rain check for a sold-out item as long as you show up sometime on Black Friday, or in the case of the 1-hour guarantee, as long as you show up within the first hour of opening.
2. No discount
This one is a bit harder to spot, but it’s no fun when it happens to you.
In this ploy, retailers take advantage of the Black Friday craze to deceive shoppers into thinking a product is on sale. They’ll list an item in a Black Friday circular so you’ll assume it’s being offered at a discount when the it’s actually being sold at its regular retail price.
You can easily outsmart the stores here by doing a quick check of an item’s standard selling price online or pricing app like Shopular or ShopSavvy before running out to buy it on Black Friday.
3. Full price with a store gift card
A favorite Black Friday deal that may not be worth its hype is the item that sells at its regular price and comes along with a store gift card. For example, you might find a $699 laptop being sold at its full price at Best Buy, and rewarding buyers with a $100 store gift card. At first glance, this seems like a fantastic deal. However, some research might reveal that this same laptop is being sold elsewhere on Black Friday for just $550. Also, if you’re not a regular customer at Best Buy, you may end up blowing that $100 on stuff you don’t need just because the gift card is burning a hole in your wallet.
While gift card deals may be a great way to save on your purchases, think twice before rushing to grab a “with gift card” item on Black Friday.
4. Sales based on a dishonest manufacturer’s price
It’s easy for an item to appear to be significantly marked down when the manufacturer’s price is grossly inflated, but it’s also awfully unfair to the less-wise consumer.
When retailers advertise their sales, they’ll often post the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, or MSRP, for customers to compare. However, this number can be theoretical at best and simply dishonest at worst. If the item was never actually sold at the listed MSRP, the number is essentially meaningless.
Kohl’s was actually sued for claiming items were being sold at discounted prices when they were never offered at a higher price to begin with. The retailer has since discontinued this practice, but many other stores continue to advertise inflated or irrelevant MSRPs along with their sale prices.
Avoid getting pulled in by this deceptive advertising ploy by checking out an item’s retail price online.
5. Stripped-down or downgraded versions
When shopping for new technological devices, especially computers and TVs, make sure to read up on every feature offered with the product. A common Black Friday ruse is to advertise a discounted item that offers the very minimum in features and accessories. While it’s great to walk away with a brand-new computer at $200 less than its usual selling price, it’s not exactly the deal you thought it was if you end up having to pay through the nose to buy all those features and accessories that weren’t included. These “add-ons” are often essential features whose lack can make the device almost useless until you buy them.
Read through the listed features of every advertised computer and TV before running out to buy it this Black Friday.
You deserve to find fantastic deals this Black Friday. Look out for these deceptive advertising techniques so that you only walk away with actual bargains.
Your Turn: Have you ever been taken in by a misleading ad? Tell us about it on Facebook in the comments.