JOHN McGURK                 NOVEMBER 29 2016

Honestly, it all seemed to be pretty harmless. You know how things pop up on your screen which are designed to catch your eye. But then they start to stalk you. Suddenly, there’s no escape. 

You just have to do it…curiosity rushes into the bloodstream like a dose of adrenaline. You just have to click on that box!

Before I knew it, I was the proud owner of two new duck feathered duvets (13.5 tog) especially designed with double stitching to keep out the cold during these long winters.

There was a friendly message: “Congratulations John. Your super duck feathered duvets are on their way!”

Did I really need to buy them? Probably not. Did I really want them? Probably not. Could I have prevented myself from being convinced by some marketing hokum that this was the bargain of the year? Probably not.

After all, there was a limited supply and, apparently, 110 people had already staked their claim. And there were only 10 left.  So it had to be done before someone else grabbed them and they were sold out.

But it didn’t stop there.

Once these people get you hooked other temptations suddenly appear.  And it takes an extremely strong will not to look, just in case.

There was that curved-screen TV with £509 off. Afternoon tea in a five star hotel for only £25pp. A night in Northumberland with full English breakfast and a free bottle of champagne on arrival for just £109. A discount week in Majorca with free transfers. An amazing 25% off all indoor and outdoor Christmas lights. The offers were never-ending.

But it didn’t stop there.

Later on Black Friday evening there was a queue of emails with more super bargains: headphones, kettles, leather sofas, power drills, facials, crates of wine, perfumes, coffee machines, wonderbras, skimpy knickers, yoga sessions, a 60 minute massage, even a personalised video from Santa.

A day or so earlier we were being told that we’d never had it so bad; that wages had stood still since 2008 and that we’d be no better off by the end of this decade.

Yet it’s thought that on Black Friday UK shoppers spent £1.3 billion —and that’s before it all started again yesterday with Cyber Monday.

Thankfully, there was no repeat this year of the incredible scenes at ASDA in 2014 when shoppers were trampled over in the rush to get a bargain.

Which is perhaps why this year, Black Friday shopping online seemed to be more popular than taking the risk in a store.

But there doesn’t seem to be much difference between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In fact, there’s no difference. The offers are the same all over again, presumably, just in case you missed them first time around. Get them before it’s too late!

It turns out that the consumer people at Which? did some research last year and discovered that around half the products offered on Black Friday were cheaper either before or after the event.

Which? said they monitored 178 offers in Argos, John Lewis, Currys and Amazon and found that just 8% of products had special bargain prices and that 38% were cheaper when the event ended.

It gets worse. Apparently, some sneaky manufactures even make low quality versions of popular products to be sold especially on Black Friday or Cyber Monday at deliberately low prices.

These products are known in the trade as “derivatives” and are typically made with cheaper materials and parts which can quickly fail.

The favourite derivatives are televisions produced by manufacturers you’ve never heard of. The advice is to check what you want to buy well in advance and not to get tempted into a credit-card computer frenzy.

So there you have it. Of course, you knew all along that the whole thing is an exercise in ramping up sales and that real bargains rarely exist.

Anybody want to buy a pair of duck feathered duvets (unused)?

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