Finance Why you should double check the returns policy this Black Friday

Why you should double check the returns policy this Black Friday

Black Friday
Just because it's on sale doesn't mean you have to buy it this Black Friday. Photo: TND/Getty
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Australians hunting for deals this Black Friday are being advised to research their consumer rights and avoid buying things they don’t need.

NAB analysis released on Thursday tips Australians to spend almost $1  million a minute between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Clothes and shoes are expected to top our Black Friday sale wish lists – but consumer advocates Choice and RateCity are warning people not to get swept up in the frenzy.

“Sale events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday are marketing stunts designed to get you spending,” RateCity research director Sally Tindall said.

“If you’ve spent 2021 building up your rainy day fund, be careful not to blow it all before you’ve even got to Christmas.”

So before you head to the shops or head online this Friday, here are Choice managing editor Marg Rafferty’s top tips to nab the best deals.

Research your right to refund

Not only should you research an item before you press pay to avoid making a dodgy purchase, you should also look up your consumer rights, Rafferty said.

For example, shoppers should be aware that retailers are not obliged to give shoppers a refund for an item if they change their mind or if they pick the wrong size.

Each retailer will have a different returns policy.

But Rafferty said shoppers are entitled to a refund if a product is faulty – regardless of whether it was bought in a sale.

“Just because it’s discounted doesn’t mean that your consumer rights are forfeited,” she said.

Think about ‘need’ v ‘want’

You might be tempted to buy a trendy kitchen appliance while it’s on sale, but you should consider if it might be a waste of money and space.

For example, Choice says food processors have become kitchen essentials and are “a really great buy”, but air fryers are pointless because they replicate what your oven already does.

“For many, [air fryers are] just a trend rather than something useful, and they do take up a lot of bench space,” she said.

“Don’t buy it if you don’t need it.”

Expand your search radius

Rafferty said retailers have been “scrambling” to get stock on shelves for the upcoming sales period, as the pandemic has made it difficult for retailers to import goods to meet surging demand.

This might make it harder to find the specific item you want, but Rafferty says don’t give up.

“Go to the actual bricks-and-mortar retailers, as well as online,” she said.

Rafferty said the best approach is to keep an eye out for the type of product you want, rather than a specific brand.

“Keep looking … and you should still be able to get a bargain,” she said.

Don’t fall for the hype

Before you get carried away with Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, keep in mind there are sales with similar discounts throughout the year.

Choice audited the emails of 16 retailers over the course of six months in 2021, Rafferty said.

They found more than 80 per cent of the emails referenced sales or other discounts.

“No matter what the time of year is, don’t let the hype of Black Friday … or any other sale distract you from the fact that you can save money at other times of the year as well,” she said.