How to Not Get Ripped Off On Black Friday: A Guide

By Gary Cutlack on at

Black Friday was fun, a few years ago. When it was a US-only institution, it was fun to sneak a deal here in the UK, blagging something on import for a few quid less than the exchange rate permits. But now it's become a full capitalist nightmare. Everyone has a "deal" and half of them are rubbish. Here's how to not feel bad come Regret Saturday.

Amazon's done a lot of work to make people think Black Friday is a thing it invented. It's going big on the deals, already pre-announcing plenty of options on its UK siteThe bad news for shoppers after a bargain is that a lot of the discounts going live on the site require an Amazon Prime subscription -- so that £79 lump is going to negate all but the maddest of crazy discounts. 

Related: The Best UK Black Friday 2015 Deals: Gadgets, Games and More

Amazon has two sets of Black Friday deals on the go this week -- Lightning Deals that last for a few hours or until everything's sold and Deals of the Day, which last for... a day. There's a gigantic pile of tat on offer, with DVD boxsets, Frozen merchandise, microphones, trampolines, battery banks, dog mattresses and almost every category of thing covered. You can do better than that.

Plan Ahead

The absolute worst possible thing you can do is buy something on a whim because someone, somewhere, or an algorithm based on what you bought last year, says it's a good deal, and you're bored and buying things is at least something to do. Do you actually want it? Is it a thing you need? What you should do, right now, is make a list of things you really do want and current best prices, like this:

Massive hard drive: £39.13
48 Mars bars: £20.14

Then, come Black Friday, you're free to spend as much work time as you like seeing if the things you want are cheaper anywhere than they were today. If not, save your money and still feel like a winner.

After all, put yourself in the place of a retailer. No one buys your crappy stuff on Black Friday, so what are you going to do? Put the price UP and see if that works? Or slowly and secretly make everything even cheaper a few weeks later to clear the living room of the excess stock?

For added price security, it's always worth running Amazon deal prices through Camel Camel Camel, a site that charts item prices over time. This way you can see if £17.87 for Lego set 60074 is, historically, a good price or not to be jumping in at.

Let Someone Else Do The Work

You could do worse than sit inside with a cup of tea while pressing F5 in front of Hot UK Deals's BF section all day and weekend, or (cheeky plug) Gizmodo's own UK Black Friday deals hub, as there's going to be an army of deal hunters posting their finds. Things will get snapped up in seconds, mind, so make sure you're signed in to everywhere -- those seconds spent looking for that bit of paper with your Tesco Direct password written on it could cost you dearly.

Get The Cashback

It's always worth remembering at this capital-intensive time of year that through bizarre promotional activities to do with commissions and advertising, sites like Quidco and Topcashback exist -- register and click their affiliate links when buying and you'll get a random percentage of your money back, with very few strings attached.

Remember It's Not Just Amazon

Argos has created a page and done a graphic. It's got an Alba Android tablet for £50, which might be useful if you want something to be a pretend granite worktop in a wendy house.

Tesco has an ominous counter, making it look like a countdown to the end of the world. Which, in a few shops last year, it quite nearly was.

John Lewis has a page that stresses its price-matching options, although with Black Friday deals often over in seconds as one man stands, victorious, over the crowds with a discounted hairdryer in his bloodied hands, there might not be time to put in a price match request.

Game's gone mad and set up a custom subdomain, complete with red and white ONLY and JUST all over the place, to trick casual shoppers into thinking the prices there MUST THEREFORE be the BEST.

Currys has a black tag event running now, and is promising more on Friday. Plus there's a Halfords page, there might be some cheap sandwiches and woman stuff to be presents in Boots, Maplins has got loads of interesting junk, and your local newsagent is still doing that thing on Pringles it always does where it's £1.99 for a tube or two for £3. You can never go wrong with that. 

Just look at it all:

Or Do Nothing

If you really can't be bothered staying up until 3:45am to see if Amazon is shaving £0.19 off the price of an external hard drive caddy or camping outside Dixons for the chance of getting a (slightly) cheap (er than usual) 2014 model Android tablet, there's always the slower, real-world fun of Civilised Saturday.

It's an initiative being run by local book shops, encouraging book enthusiasts to visit proper shops on the 28th November, where you can pay the full RRP safe in the knowledge you're doing some good for the fabric of society and then get to walk around for the rest of the day with a tidy paper bag under your arm, looking all interesting.

Failing that, try writing a letter to Father Christmas outlining all the things you want, then burning it so the smoke goes up into the sky where his elves can read it. That method is more likely to deliver useful products than Amazon's sea of discounted rubbish that's being fought over by an army of angry men.


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