AO and Currys Slammed by Which? for Deceptive Black Friday Tactics

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

An investigation carried out by Which? has found that a number of retailers are doing exactly what we all suspected, taking advantage of the hype around Black Friday by completely overstating the size of price reductions on products in order to lure customers in. In some cases, it believes the companies have been breaching government guidelines.

Individual examples are listed at the bottom of this article.

Which? found that 49% of the products ‘on offer’ on Black Friday last year were cheaper either before or after what supermarket staff now recognise as the worst day of the year.

Having tracked the offers on 20 tech gadgets and home appliances on Amazon, AO, Argos, Currys and John Lewis for the three months before and two months after Black Friday 2015, Which? found the following:

  • 8% of discounts were one-day only offers, where the Black Friday price was cheaper than on any other day
  • 12% of discounted products were cheaper at some point in the three months leading up to Black Friday
  • 38% of discounted products were cheaper in the weeks after Black Friday

What’s more, it says that AO and Currys both exaggerated discounts to make deals look better than they actually were. As the Which? report reads, “When promoting a discount like ‘was £100, now £50’, the ‘was’ price should be the most recent price the item was sold at for 28 consecutive days or more, and not a price that is more than six months old. Which? found examples where this had not been done.

“As a result, Which? believes that these retailers may be breaking government guidelines.”

According to Which?, Currys responded to the report by saying that keeping prices low after Black Friday is good for shoppers, while AO said that keeping deals in place beyond Black Friday gives customers “great deals beyond just the one day a year”. Both retailers deny breaching regulations.

It’s well worth doing your own research on products before embracing the Black Friday chaos, but that’s easier said than done. What could be more effective is shopping at retailers with price promises, so you can get a refund if that thing you bought drops in price after Black Friday.

Now for the examples we promised earlier:

TVs and Accessories

Samsung UE40JU6740 at Currys
Currys dropped its price for Black Friday 2015... by £1. It had been available for £749 from October 30th, before being cut to £748 on November 24th. However, Currys claimed it had been discounted by £101. Worse still, it was priced at £699 for 18 days in late August and early September.

Samsung UE40J5100 at AO
Listed with the ‘Was £499’ lure on Black Friday -- when it was up for grabs for £299 -- it was actually available for £289 during November and late October.

LG 65UF675V at AO
Despite AO advertising a £500 discount, the TV -- which was listed at £1,499 on Black Friday -- was in fact available for the very same same price on 73 of the previous 90 days.

Panasonic TX-48C300B at AO
It’s a similar story with this TV, which was listed for £359 with the ‘Was £399’ lure on Black Friday, when it had in fact been available for £359 on 71 of the previous 90 days.

Samsung UE40JU6445 at Currys
Available for £579 on Black Friday with the ‘Was £699’ lure, the TV had actually been sold for £599 for months, with Which? describing Currys’ sales tactic as ‘misleading’.

LG NB4540 at Currys
Currys listed the soundbar for £239 last Black Friday, promising a saving of £110. However, from August 28th to October 2nd, it had been available for £230.

Samsung WW10H9600EW at Currys
Listed at £1,149 with a claimed saving of £450, Currys went on to cut its price to £1,079 three days later, where it remained throughout the following January.

Home Tech

Vax Air Classic Pet U87-MA-Pe at AO
AO promised a saving of £200 when it listed the Vax vacuum cleaner for £99 last Black Friday, despite the fact that it was available for £69 the day before, and cost an average of £96.50 over the previous three months.

Samsung RB Combi Range RB38J7255SR at AO
Sold for £749 with the ‘Was £999’ lure on Black Friday, the fridge freezer had actually been available for £849 “for almost every day” over the previous three months.

AEG Lavatherm T75380 AH2 at AO
Listed at £469 on Black Friday with the ‘Was £559’ lure, the tumble dryer had actually been available for £479 over the previous three months. It hadn’t been sold at £559 since January, and even then that was only for eight days.