As Black Friday hits South African online and in physical retailers, consumers have been urged to be extra careful of scammers, who are looking to grab your money or personal details while you shop for the best deals.
Black Friday is still a relatively new retail trend in South Africa, which sees popular stores and brands slashing prices and giving huge discounts. The trend was imported from the US, where the event follows Thanksgiving, every year.
And given its popularity, Black Friday also brings with it a criminal element.
BusinessTech has listed a few points to look out for while doing your Black Friday shopping, to ensure you don’t become a victim.
1. Know the products and relative prices
An old retail trick is to hike prices just before launching a promotion, so that the discount rate appears a lot bigger than what it is.
Be a clued-up shopper, and make sure that you know what the recommended or normal retail prices is for whatever item you’re about to buy – that way you will know if you’re getting the promised discount, or just a bum deal.
2. Read the fine print of deals
When buying items (especially online), make sure you read the fine print and understand the terms of the deal, and other factors such as stock limits and delivery times.
Some deals are extremely limited, or require some or other process (signing up for a store account, or buying other items) – make sure you read the fine print so that you don’t get tricked into buying more than you set out to get.
3. Watch out for ‘gifts’ and ‘coupons’
When known promotions such as Black Friday hit, there are a lot of fake deals and discounts hitting your inbox. Be wary of any ‘coupons’ sent to you that require you to give personal details to claim.
Also be wary of any ‘gifts’ that have been sent to you that require the same. Don’t give your personal details out to companies, and always check to see who sent you a ‘gift’ and double check with them before claiming it.
4. Stick to trusted sites and brands
Because of the huge discounts offered during Black Friday, consumers become more ‘experimental’ with brands; you may be tempted to get an HDTV that’s thousands of rands off – even though it’s not a brand you’ve ever heard of, or from a store or website you’ve never seen.
Proceed with caution – it’s best to stick to known retailers and brands if you’re looking for deals that won’t lead to disappointment later.
5. Look carefully where you shop online
Much like the recent trend of fake news sites – where popular news websites’ names are used with slight variations to fool the casual web browser – be careful of where you shop online.
Check a website’s URL for any weird variations – like ‘takalot.com’ instead of ‘takealot.com’ – and double check to make sure you’re on the legitimate, secure platform.
6. Watch out for the usual scams
It goes without saying, but consumers must be wary of the usual scams as well – this includes phishing, SIM-swap fraud and other digital scams.
Black Friday presents another guise for these types of scams – so the notion of not giving personal details and banking details to strange sources stills stands. South African banks will not ask for you to divulge your PIN number – so no one else should either.
7. Watch the crowds
If you do your Black Friday shopping at physical retail stores, be wary of your surroundings at all times. Large crowds of people draw criminal elements, which could result in your purse or wallet being lifted off of you when you’re distracted.
Criminals work quickly and efficiently and prey off of shoppers’ confusion, so keep your wits about you, and don’t let the 60% discount dominate your attention.
8. If it’s too good to be true…
If all else fails, just pay homage to the old addage: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
While Black Friday is known for presenting some crazy discounts, there are limits – it is unlikely that you will find high-tech items like a R10,000 HDTV selling for a couple of hundred rand.
Always scrutinize discounts, and when things seem especially too good to be true, double down, and double check.
For a list of confirmed Black Friday deals happening in South Africa, be sure to check out the comprehensive list done by MyBroadband.