ConsumerTalk with Wendy Knowler

4 tips to protect yourself online on Black Friday

Know what you want to buy: check out which brand is best, by going to expert product review websites. A good local one is Fairlady’s Test House and internationally, there’s the UK consumer organisation, Which?

Know the price by doing online research: those “60% saving” claims can be very misleading - know what the product usually sells FOR and don’t be swayed by claims.

Make very sure that you sniff those hidden costs out in the terms and conditions.

The extras are shipping, customs, and VAT, and, if your purchase is to be posted, rather than couriered, a clearance fee charged by the SA Post Office (R24 or R48 depending on the size of the parcel.) Some sites include shipping and customs; others just shipping.

If you buy something on a site based in a foreign country, the warranty won’t be honoured by the authorised dealers in SA.

Check the sites and look out for dodgy URLs. Even if you receive an email from what looks like a legitimate retailer with their logos and fonts, it could be a scam, so always type a retailer’s address into your browser to avoid being redirected to a fake site. Only shop on sites which have https:// (as opposed to http://). The “s” stands for secure.

Find out what the company’s returns policies are. No company is legally obliged to take back a product if it is not defective. If they do, they get to come up with the terms and conditions - some may choose not to take back non-faulty Black Friday purchases, so make no assumptions.

But if something you’ve bought on a Black Friday promotion turns out to be faulty, you have full Consumer Protection Act returns rights - you get to return it within six months, at their cost, for your choice of a refund, replacement or repair.



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