11 Black Friday Rip-Offs You’ll Regret Buying
Not every Black Friday offer is as deep a discount as advertised. Here's how to play "Deal or No Deal" this Black Friday—and win.
When Black Friday is no deal
Every Black Friday sale product exists for a reason. It may be an overstock, a teaser item to lure you to a website or store, a cheap product… or a legitimate bargain to develop customer loyalty. “There are definitely bargains to be had on Black Friday, but not everything that glitters is gold,” warns Kristin Malia, consumer advocate for MoneyTips.com. We can’t fully predict the future—otherwise, we’d be lounging on our private island with our Mega Millions winnings—but we can tell you where bad deals tend to be found on the day after Thanksgiving.
Lookalike models made for Black Friday
Does a TV, laptop, or gaming system deal look too good to be true? It may be a version of a more popular model made especially for Black Friday—functional, yet with some aspect that makes it cheaper for the retailer to stock. To avoid getting duped by cheap lookalikes, check the model numbers and review the model’s history online. “If you don’t know a model number until you see the item at the store, use your smartphone to research while you’re waiting in the checkout line,” suggests Malia, a former E! News reporter. If there’s no history or that exact model isn’t normally carried in the store, research carefully before you plunk down your credit card. It may work perfectly fine but not last as long, be incompatible with accessories or systems, or have other functional limitations. For those looking for a tablet, Amazon is expected to feature their Fire tablets for their Black Friday sale, including the low-cost Fire 7 tablet. Find out the ways you’re doing Black Friday wrong.
What to buy instead: Amazon Fire 7 tablet
We’ve all seen holiday decoration bins that last well into January. Unless there’s a specific and hot holiday item that you must have for this year’s display, you’re better off waiting for the inevitable post-holiday markdown. The same principle applies to Halloween and any other holiday where decorations can be used year-after-year. Of course, on Black Friday, the post-Thanksgiving decoration markdown should be underway. Check out the holiday decorations that are actually a good deal.
What to buy instead: Thanksgiving decorations
Toys are tricky because the hottest toys of the year will probably run out by Black Friday, so wait for the best price and you’ll miss out entirely. Less popular toys are likely to be marked down further as the Christmas holiday approaches and retailers fear getting stuck with excess end-of-year inventory. If you missed out on the Christmas rush, don’t fret. Bargains are also available in January, although the selection may be poorer. If you can’t wait to buy toys, check out Amazon’s toy guide. Check out the Amazon products with nearly perfect reviews.
Much like smartphones, you’ll pay more for one of the latest higher-end models. For example, TheKrazyCouponLady.com reported that Best Buy offered a Nikon D7100 package with bag and lenses for $1,000 on Black Friday 2017. That same package was available on Jet.com for $851.84 in 2018 once the upgraded D7200 model with enhanced features became price-competitive. “Of course, if you need something as a gift, then waiting until January may not be an option,” suggest Malia, who hosted the E! Television series Celebrity Homes. Instead of a high-end camera, how about a discounted home security camera system?
What to buy instead: Blink XT Home Security Camera System
If you need a refrigerator or washing machine over the holiday season, Black Friday should offer reasonable savings—but they probably won’t compare to traditional appliance sale weekends such as Memorial Day, Labor Day, and President’s Day. The selection of sale items should be greater compared to a few specific Black Friday offers. The same argument tends to apply to furniture, mattresses, smaller appliances, and other home furnishings. Instead, consider Amazon’s line of Echo devices, which should be legitimately discounted. These are the things you should always buy on Amazon.
What to buy instead: Amazon Echo
When do people start their exercise regimens? In the wake of their New Year’s resolutions, as they try to get rid of several months’ worth of holiday indulgences. Retailers may offer Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, but they’re likely to be closeouts or difficult-to-sell models. DealNews.com reported no 2017 Black Friday deals on exercise equipment considered worthy of their Editor’s Choice designation, compared to 11 in January 2018. Suggests Malia, “If you really want a bargain on exercise equipment, try buying it slightly used on Craigslist from the people who didn’t live up to their New Years’ resolutions!” On the other hand, some reasonably priced fitness accessories are always a good idea, like this Willful Fitness Tracker. These companies have the greatest Black Friday deals.
What to buy instead: Willful Fitness Tracker
What’s the most-watched TV broadcast in most years? It’s the Super Bowl—and right before the Super Bowl is when you’re likely to find the best deals on large flat screen TVs. Retailers want to make space for newer models after the holiday rush, especially in a field where technology changes rapidly. If the previous year’s model fits your needs, wait until the New Year to buy. “If you can’t wait, don’t forget to check the TV’s model number to make sure it’s not a model made for Black Friday,” reminds Malia. Instead of a new TV, you can improve your old set with a discounted Amazon Fire Cube. These are the hidden gems on Amazon you’ll wish you already owned.
What to buy instead: Amazon Fire Cube
Diamonds and gold have market-based values, so a large Black Friday discount on a piece of jewelry suggests that it was originally grossly overpriced or there’s an issue with the item’s quality or desirability. Slow periods after traditional jewelry holidays, like Valentine’s Day, are an excellent time to find deals from jewelers trying to draw in more customers. July is also a good period for jewelry deals, according to the Jewelers of America. If you must buy jewelry on Black Friday, check out Amazon’s Deal of the Day to score a bargain, like these sterling silver hammered hoop earrings for less than $20.
What to buy instead: Sterling Silver Hammered Hoop Earrings
If you need a winter coat or other seasonal clothing now and aren’t picky about selection, Black Friday will have suitable deals. Otherwise, you’re better off waiting until later in the winter season (whenever that happens to be where you live—advice may not apply in parts of Florida and Texas). Stores will be clearing out seasonal stock to make room for spring items. Check if Amazon is offering clothing you need now in their Early Black Friday deals, which change often. Don’t miss these Black Friday deals that aren’t as good as they seem.
Low-inventory local offerings
There’s a big difference between shopping for something online, and trekking to a store on a holiday weekend. Do you want to spend time with family or with fellow shoppers pressed against the doors of a yet-to-open warehouse store? Warns Malia, “If you do see a promotion for something you really want at your local store, see if there’s any quantity limit listed in the ad. Unless you’re willing to miss Thanksgiving dinner, wait in line pre-dawn, or wrestle with your fellow shoppers for the last item, it may be better to avoid something in very limited stock. Your longing for a loss leader could put you in the local news, the police station, or the hospital!” The good news: whatever you buy, Amazon is offering free shipping to everyone this holiday season without a minimum order size. That means this Sony PlayStation is yours with zero extra shipping costs.
What to buy instead: PlayStation 4 Slim 1TB Console
Online deals too good to be true
You know the old saw: An off-the-charts low price for a hot item could mean one thing: fraud. The website may have been set up to scam unsuspecting shoppers for their personal financial information. With identity theft on the rise throughout the holidays, protect yourself by checking your credit report and monitoring your credit for free. It’s best to stick to established shopping sites like Amazon.
Finding best bets
Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. You can use past Black Fridays to your advantage this year with sites like CamelCamelCamel that allow you to review historical prices for the same item. For example, periodic huge discounts from list price suggest that nobody ever pays list price for that item. Since Black Friday offerings often repeat from year to year, consider past deals from the Black Friday Archive. Says Malia, “Those Black Friday ads are designed to promote products that shoppers want, and we often want the same things year after year.” Don’t miss the Amazon Black Friday deals that are sure to sell out, like the Tarte Hair Goals Dry Shampoo.
What to buy instead: Tarte Hair Goals Dry Shampoo
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