When that great deal on electricals is more like a dodgy deal

18 December 2014

electricity-meter It’s almost Christmas. That means it’s almost time for the post-Christmas sales, where many people try and get that electrical bargain they’ve been mulling over. However, a new investigation by our chums at Which!!! reveals that, as a massive surprise to no-one, some of these ‘offers’ aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, and in some cases aren’t even offers.

Which!!! tracked the prices of electrical goods over the course of six months at Amazon, Argos, Currys and John Lewis. They found a number of ‘deals’ where the savings either didn’t exist or were much lower than claimed.

Some examples of non-deals include:

Argos maintained that the Nikon D3300 was on offer at a £200 saving even when it was only £10 cheaper than the previous month.  There was also a note saying it had previously been sold for a cheaper price.

Amazon’s ‘discounted’ price for a Philips iron was actually higher than the Philips RRP of £65. Which!!! couldn’t find any other retailer selling it for more than £65 either.

The Canon EOS 70D  has an RRP of £1239.99 according to Amazon, making their offer prices of £959.99 and £967.99 look pretty impressive. However, Canon’s own typical selling price of £959 means you would probably have ended up paying £8.99 more.

Which!!! asked the retailers for their comments. Amazon said: 'We work with product manufacturers to provide our customers with a wide range of information about any given product, including RRPs. We aim to provide the very latest information.'

Currys said: 'We are proudly transparent on our prices, which are 5-10% cheaper than most of our multi-channel competitors. We are the only retailer to always show customers when and for how long our 'was' prices applied, both online and in- store. We strictly observe government guidelines on pricing by giving customers clear information.'

John Lewis said: 'It is never our intention to mislead our customers. We have very robust checking procedures in place for our offers. However, our processes do rely on manual input and it appears there was a human error. We have reviewed our processes and when we display information about the dates a product is at the higher price it will be in a more prominent position.'

Argos said: 'We work hard to ensure that all of our offers are fully compliant with all regulations and guidance. For full transparency, we use explanatory text and reference intervening prices. We cannot comment on retail prices that the manufacturers have quoted due to competition law.'

So what can you do? Well caveat emptor rules, and make sure you do your research when contemplating one of these purchases, rather than taking the word of a business that has a vested interest in relieving you of your money. For Amazon products, you can always use a price tracking system like camelcamelcamel to see whether you are getting a genuinely good price, or set up a price alert to buy when the price falls.

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