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How to tell when a Black Friday deal isn't worth it

As I'm sure you already know, Black Friday is almost upon us. In the last few years, this tradition has established itself in a number of countries, so nowadays almost every retailer on the planet (either an online or a physical store) has at least a few Black Friday offers. (Amazon even uses Snapchat to notify customers about some of its offers.) However, not all the discounts that you see are actually good deals, and some of them are even outright scams trying to get you to purchase a different product than the one you think you are acquiring. Here are some of the best ways to avoid getting tricked on Black Friday.

Probably the first thing that you need to realize is that no business or person will ever sell something without the intention to gain some kind of profit. Unfortunately, since everybody else has shinny signs with deals and discounts, no store can afford to be passive. This is why most retailers gradually raise the prices of their products in the weeks (months) before, then, come Black Friday they will revert to the regular price (or close to it), presenting it as an awesome offer that you must not miss out on. So, my first advice for all of you is to keep on eye on prices (in general) to see if the discounts you are being offered are actually a bargain or just bovine manure.

Another really good thing to do is check out the manufacturer's website. Generally, the maker's official website will have information about prices and current promotions, so you should be able to easily tell if the offer that you saw in the store is actually any good. In case the manufacturer doesn't offer an official price, try searching for authorized dealers, as they generally have reference prices. Simply go to a search engine like Google, search for the name of a manufacturer, then add "authorized dealer" to the query and you will most likely find the information that you are looking for. As one last piece of advice on this topic, even if the manufacturer's price is lower than the one in the offer you see, make sure you factor in the transportation price before dismissing the deal from the retailer that's close to you.

A different trick that a lot of stores use is trying and bundling things up. Whenever you see a "promotional" bundle, you should mentally separate the products, see how much the products would cost individually and then calculate and see if the offer is actually worth it. Furthermore, make sure that the bundle includes things that you really need, not ones that will make you lose money compared to what you originally wanted to purchase. You should also be careful about offers that contain free gift cards and ensure that you actually need (or, at least, really want) the thing that you are going to buy with store credit.

I think most of you already know this, but I'm going to tell you anyway: watch out for hidden fees. If you get a really good deal on a device, make sure that it doesn't require an app or some kind of a subscription service which will cost a lot and tie you down for a long period of time. Moreover, don't forget to check out the 'restocking fees' to fully understand how much of the money you originally spent will be given back to you if you choose to return a product and in what conditions you can return it. (These fees can range between 15% and 50%, so you really should watch out for it).

Up until this point, we've only talked about bad deals, but here's how actual scams work. People who sell stuff on websites like Amazon or E-bay and even some legitimate stores often present a product as something else. This happens a lot with older devices that have the same name as the ones that have recently appeared. For example, they could make you believe that you are purchasing the latest Samsung 65-inch TV and instead sell you the last year's model that they were stuck with. To avoid such problems, always ask for the full name of the product, so that you can search them online and see exactly what you are buying. Additionally, comparing the SKUs (stock keeping units) can be helpful.

To sum it all up, Black Friday is a cool concept, but that doesn't necessarily mean that this is the time when you will find the best deal for the product you're looking for. There are plenty of offers from then until the new year, so if you're not completely sure about what you want to do, it would probably be best if you waited. Nine times out of ten, you will find another discount that is at least as good as the one you were  tempted by on Black Friday.

If you're a big fan of shopping you might also want to check out the most interesting and helpful shopping apps for iOS.

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