November 22, 2022 Major Meat

5 Things To Watch Out For This Black Friday

Black Friday is upon us. That means deals to be had, mad shopping dashes, (the occasional riot), and an opportunity to pick up some of those toys you’ve been being really good for all year!

Alas, not everything that looks good is good for you.

Black Friday deals can be extraordinarily deceiving if you don’t know what to watch out for. We compiled five tips and tricks for you to keep from getting raked over the naughty coals this year. We hope they help you make sound buying decisions.

Watch that Website!

The internet is constantly evolving, and so are cybercriminals. Make sure the sites you are shopping on are legitimate. Look for the SSL certificate—usually a little lock icon or similar—in the browser’s address bar. Watch for any sort of popup or address bar flag stating “the site isn’t secure”. Also watch for unexpected re-direction. If it seems like you were taken somewhere other than a product’s description page or cart, double click the browser address bar and make sure the site is the one you intended to shop on. Never enter your secure information if any of the above aren’t on the up-and-up.

Watch that Account Statement!

Every year, scammers and criminals steal information like pin numbers and credit card numbers. Millions yearly are lost or stolen through scam ads, faked websites, phishing emails, and other fraudulent activity. Bank statements should be watched closely during this time of year. Most folks have access to online statements and most banks can set up spending alerts. Check your accounts daily! If you see something, say something or lock your card down at the first sign of trouble. It might be a hassle to get a new card mailed to you, but it’s an even bigger hassle when someone maxes your card and you have to adjudicate.

Watch those Offers!

Does it look like it’s too good to be true? It probably is. Several websites we researched for this article referenced a Louis Vuitton scam email that’s making it’s rounds, stating “Black Friday Sale. Starting at $100…” Yeah, right. Don’t believe it, folks. If you see something that looks like an amazing price, check a few other sites. You’ll know pretty quickly if something is amiss. Also be aware that certain product categories will actually increase in price before Black Friday! Perfumes and colognes are traditionally one that increases, as are headphones, some TVs and some laptops. Stores will also put out many more “impulse buy” items near the registers. All those things help smooth or increase store profits. Keep in mind, Black Friday is the time of year where the stores begin to turn a profit (in banking, going from being in the red to in the black—thus Black Friday). They aren’t doing these discounts because they were suddenly overtaken with the Christmas Spirit. One survey we read stated that while most consumers thought they would save between 30% and 90% on their shopping trip yielded that the true average savings across all products sold was closer to 12%.

Watch those Model Numbers!

Speaking of offers, you will find some good prices—some of which may feel too good to be true—and they will be in legitimate stores or on legitimate websites. So, what about those? Well, there’s another quite common practice now of producing derivative models of popular brands/best-selling models that hit a much lower price point just for Black Friday. Do your research! We cannot stress this enough. Many of these derivatives will have degraded features or will be completely lacking in certain areas. Examples are TVs with less or different inputs and outputs; computer monitors with lowered resolution, missing I/O ports, or lower refresh rates; or laptops with half of the RAM you need and a cheaper screen. The bottom line is not to get caught up in “FOMO” or Fear of Missing Out. Do your research (read and watch reviews, check specs, etc.), set a budget, and make smart choices based on your needs, not wants.

Watch that Marketing!

Seeing a “doorbuster” offer or a VERY heavily advertised, bleeding discount shoved down your throat? Buyer beware! Those are likely set up to get you in the store and not much more. That deep discount could be on an older model of a product, one of lesser quality, or they may not even have physical stock in the store! We’ve seen all three scenarios. Black Friday shopping can be a very distracting and often less-than-fun process. Every store will have unadvertised sales so set up a game plan for the businesses or sites you want to shop and for what. This can help keep the Wal-Mart effect from occurring (intend to spend a dollar and leave with fifty worth of crap you don’t need) and more important, you don’t have your time wasted with a frustrating shopping trip and nothing worthwhile to show for it.

We wish you the best of luck in your shopping endeavors this year. Please be mindful that this is cold and flu season, plus COVID is still making its way around. Mask up (if you wish), wash your hands (even if you don’t wish), and be mindful of your surroundings (always)! We also hope that you will use this time to connect with people. Almost (almost) everything is better with friends. If you are looking for a few to game with, consider joining PCP! We’d love to have you over for the holidays. We’ll even save you some turkey.