Martin Lewis: Tips and tricks for shopping online this Christmas
It’s Black Friday week. While most of the big deals haven’t yet been released, many shops are going to be doing their best to target your spending impulses – especially online with deals, codes and discounts emailed into your inbox. So who better to dictate the bargains from the balderdash than our Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis…
What is Black Friday? Is it all hype?
Black Friday started as a US phenomenon, but started to grow here in 2013 – when it merged with Cyber Monday (which was the busiest online shopping day), so we get a whole weekend of it. In many ways this isn’t new, we’ve long had deals throughout November and December, just now many of them have moved so they are more concertinaed into this one weekend.
Deals come in two types – specific product promotions, which I’d avoid as they’re just a way to get you to buy things you probably wouldn’t do anyway – and cross store discounts and codes. These are the ones to watch for as it means if you have something specific on your shopping list, this is the key point pre-Christmas to buy it – so right now is the time to watch for that.
But don’t get sucked into the hype. Just because something is discounted doesn’t make it a good deal. Remember to always do your own research first and check if you can get it cheaper elsewhere. Also don’t buy on impulse. Though if you have things on your list you need, it’s worth checking out if you can buy them cheaper right now.
So if you’re going to be buying, here’s my tips to boost the discounts…
1.No code available - abandon your online basket to try and score a discount
When shopping online, sign into your store account (otherwise they won’t know who you are), and add items to your online shopping basket, then abandon it. Close the window and walk away from your computer. You may find that companies will often send you codes to tempt you back and finish your order. I’ve heard of people getting codes for Asos, Currys, New Look, Asda, Tesco and Waitrose. Like Michaela who tweeted “@MartinSLewisI leave shopping in basket on the Tesco grocery site & they send me £12 off a shop. Done it three times now.”
2.Try a shop bot for big ticket items
If you’re buying something large while online is often cheap, there can still be big price variance in different stores. So try shopping price comparison sites like 123PriceCheck, PriceRunner and Dealpond. For example with the Sony Bravia smart TV (model number KDL32RE453BU) price difference in stores ranges from £249 in PC World to £310 in Tesco Direct.
3.Know your free delivery thresholds
To get free delivery with many online retailers your order needs to be a certain amount. Yet sometimes you can play this. For example, you need to spend minimum £20 with Amazon to get free delivery, otherwise it can cost up to £4.75. Yet the Super Saver Delivery tool helps find a smaller item to add to your basket get the total over the threshold. For example if you’ve a £19.50 electric toothbrush in your basket, it’ll find a 59p bandage – which is cheaper than paying say the £4.75 delivery charge.
And this works in stores too. For example, free delivery from John Lewis is £50, so buy a £49 jumper online and delivery would cost £3.50. But add a £1.50 Christmas bauble, bumping the total over the £50 free-delivery threshold, and delivery is free.
I’ve been analysing for five years now when the big Christmas deals will start, and I’ve generally nailed it (though they are still predictions) down to the exact week. It’s a huge amount of stuff. Tomorrow night Live on my show, The Martin Lewis Money Show, ITV at 8pm, I’ll be running through over 60+ deals I think will be coming from biggies such as Amazon, Boots, Asos, Ikea and John Lewis – so you can target exactly when you should be doing your shopping.
5.Haggle online for big discounts
While buying online is usually cheaper, the one advantage buying in-store is that you can haggle. Yet now even there the web's caught up. If you spot a window pop up online offering live chat with a help person, don't dismiss it – you can use this to haggle. First ask a few questions about the item you want to buy and then ask if you can get a discount. This can be successful as Brian tweeted: "Have tried online haggling a few times and always get a result. Best was £300 off a £1,200 Dell laptop via online chat."
6.No discount code? Check to see if a department store has a discount instead
Big brands usually don’t just sell items in their own stores, but they’ll also be selling in department stores too. So if there’s a discount code there instead it could work out cheaper. For example Levi’s 501 jeans are £65 at Levi's, yet buy at La Redoute using a La Redoute code and you can get the same jeans for £45. Debenhams, John Lewis, Office and Asos also sell branded items and tend to have frequent sales and discount codes too.
7.You've a right to change your mind online (but NOT in store)
It’s important to understand that one big advantage of buying online is under the Consumer Contract regulations, you’ve a right to change your mind (apart from for perishable or personalised goods). And the time you have to return them has increased in the last couple of years, you now have 14 days to tell them you’re sending it back, and another 14 days to do it.
This is in stark contrast to buying instore where you’ve no legal right to return the item, unless it’s faulty. If a store lets you return non-faulty goods then that’s up to them but it’s not the law.