Let’s face it, the Boxing Day sales can be stressful. After a Christmas Day spent eating and drinking, getting out to find bargains doesn’t always appeal – not least because getting stuck in a crowd of people elbowing their way to the front of the cut-priced goods can leave you battered and bruised.
But when there’s a bargain to be had, it’s surely worth the hassle. This year’s high street sales promise huge reductions on pretty much everything so in times of austerity, saving cash means more to splash on other things.
If you’re smart though, you can and will survive the sales whether you’re getting out of town to the shopping centre, down the supermarket, onto the high road or into the big department stores.
Here’s some quick tips to try and ease your pain and make sure you get the sales bargain you’re after.
Check your prices online
There are many great price comparison sites out there, all of which can be accessed from the store, if you have a smartphone or even just a normal mobile with a web connection. Just because one place has 30% off something, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cheaper than you can
get it full price elsewhere or there might even be a bigger discount somewhere else. So look up an item on your phone before getting in an hour-long queue. You wouldn’t want to have to get in another hour-long queue to return it.
Make sure you’re not buying damaged goods
Some stores may put ex-display, or seconds in their sales. So just keep this in mind. That item with 90% off may not be as big a bargain as you thought if it has a slight dent or scratch. Such items should be labelled up though as such to ensure you know what you’re buying.
Go it alone
In crowds nothing raises the blood pressure quite like a pram you can’t navigate, a kid you can’t control, or a partner who’s gone AWOL. Leave everyone behind, and you can not only get around quicker, you won’t have a massive row in public.
Secure your computer before shopping online
The net is the sanest place for sales, but according to experts at Kaspersky Labs, cybercriminals are renowned for being more active around this time of year and attempt to use the increased numbers of people in cyberspace for their own nasty advantage. Secure your computer with all the necessary software and scan it regularly to ensure it is free of spyware that could be used to collect information about you and steal your credit card details or identity.
Beware of too good to be true bargains
Again, this is really important, particularly when shopping online. If it looks too good to be true, chances are it is. If, for example, you see a brand new iPad for just £100, it’s really not going to be genuine. It might even be a complete and utter scam that will see you lose every penny you hand over.
Watch for misleading advertising
Just because a sale is on, it doesn’t mean any of your consumer rights are lost. Items have to be advertised clearly and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is supposed to make sure all adverts follow a code of practice, especially at this time of year. You can complain to the ASA if you feel you’ve not been treated fairly.
Double check for encrypted pages
You’ve found the bargain of the century, you want to pay for it and secure it fast, before it sells out, and you’re not thinking straight. Before entering your credit card details, take a deep breath, pause, and examine the site’s security. Normally the browser will display
a small key or padlock symbol and always check that a website address starts with http:// to make sure you’re carrying out a secure transaction when handing over your credit card..
Don’t head to the shops at 4am
It’s a sorry situation, people lining up in a queue outside shops in the middle of the freezing night to save £12 on some towels. Seriously?! Is any bargain really ever that much of a bargain. Think to yourself, how much would someone have to pay you to stand in your garden for three hours in the freezing cold. It must be much more than you’re saving. If you are going to brave it though, wrap up warm, charge your mobiie and take an iPod or another gadget along to keep you entertained.
Don’t accept shoddy customer service
Sales staff (both online and in store) have a habit of being extremely tetchy during the sales season – after all, they do have to put up with all those Christmas gift refunds so there’s a lot of people needing assistance. However, just because they’re busy, doesn’t mean
they can’t help YOU. Check out your consumer rights at Consumer Direct so you know exactly where you stand on refunds and exchanges and faulty goods.