Black Friday – what if you change your mind?

Black Friday is a sale. What are your consumer rights regarding the return of sale items?

The best advice I can give you is to read the summary provided by the Money Advice Service here. It tells you all you need to know about returns and refunds and your rights. Very handy.

Of course, your consumer rights do not entitle you to trample people, threaten staff or assault competing purchasers. Just saying.

Black Friday – is it worth it?

Black Friday is an import from the United States. It started out as a way of filling the Thanksgiving weekend. But, thanks to the internet, Black Friday is now over here. Add to that the number of major brands and stores that are US-based, sourced or financed, and it is not hard to see why its arrival over here has been so rapid and so complete.

But is it worth it?

Traditionally, in the UK, our sales start on Boxing Day and run into the New Year. That has experienced a degree of creep over the past few years, with some sales now starting on Christmas Eve. That seems a little counterproductive to me, because that means that the disorganised and/or lazy who leave everything to the last second, could catch a bargain they really don’t deserve. And also means that the retailer misses out on the potentially lucrative last minute rush.

But we are still in November. So why discount today? As Chris Choi points out (here), retailers could be shooting themselves in the foot by lowering price expectations before the sales “proper” kick in.

Online, websites are crashing at a rate of knots. It took me over an hour to get two pairs of jeans into a basket and pay for them, although the Paypal pages were not in the least bit taxed (as they are designed to cope with Black Friday in USA-style numbers, not UK ones). Some sites have keeled over entirely with error pages already drafted to cover them while they scramble to catch up.

Is it safe to go to the store in person? Well, so far today, there have been three arrests in the Manchester area alone for assault, and even by lunchtime, there were rather chilling videos circulating of fights, conflicts and apparent utter desperation. One woman was injured by a falling television. The Police have been called to supermarkets and stores all over the country. At Asda in Wembley, people were knocked to the ground in the hysterical stampede.

And remember, most of this started at midnight, not this morning. It’s already been going on for several hours.

The BBC quotes Jamie Hook who was buying food at Tesco in Stretford on Thursday night when he said “the screaming started”.

“I looked at the massive crowd to see people climbing over shelves and displays, staff running for cover, fights breaking out, stock flying through air, people breaking through carrying televisions – and this was before the sale had even started,” he said.  The lady on the till I was at was in tears, terrified of it all, but she was under orders to close her till to go and help crowd control.”

This is not normal behaviour. Stampedes, threats and assaults for the sake of a slightly cheaper television? What have we become?

And bear in mind that, as Chris Choi points out, there may be better bargains to be had in the New Year sales anyway!

Trading Standards are still keeping our kids safe, despite all the cuts

Trading Standards and Customs have, once again, as they do in the run up to every Christmas, intercepted fake, counterfeit and unsafe toys from entering the UK.

The story is here, although there is not much detail available yet.

Essentially, roughly 170,000 items were seized or turned away from Dover and sent back to China.

Please be careful what you buy over Christmas, and remember the CE mark does not mean it has been safety tested, it means they ASPIRE TO MEET the European Standard, but it has not necessarily been checked (no, I don’t get it either).

Also be aware that, just because these containers were stopped, it doesn’t mean that others didn’t get through.

Customer complaints and how NOT to deal with them – the update

Twenty-four hours later, they have apparently backed down.

Bad review ‘fine’ scrapped

Someone clearly figured out which bit of the Consumer Protection Against Unfair Trading Regulations was being breached and had a quiet word…

Bless them for trying, though.

It’s good to know our freedom of speech is still intact in some quarters, at least.

Customer complaints and how NOT to deal with them

A couple who stayed in a Blackpool Hotel have been FINED £100 by the hotel for posting a negative review about their stay on the internet!

To be fair, they did call it a “rotten stinking hovel”, but still!

Trading Standards are investigating. Of course they are. Although which part of the Consumer Protection Against Unfair Trading Regulations they will fit this into, I look forward to finding out!

The full story, courtesy of the BBC, can be found here.

Personally, I would expect an apology, perhaps a partial ex gratia refund and a promise to improve, but then, I’m a deluded optimist.

Have you ever given a really bad review for a dreadful hotel or restaurant? Did you have any comeback from the business in question? If you have, do let us know, so we can share them.

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