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Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2020 shopping tips

How to avoid the duds and find the best bargains in the sales.

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Last updated: 29 October 2020

Need to know

  • Black Friday is on 27 November 2020; Cyber Monday is on 30 November 2020
  • Don't buy something just because it's on sale; do your research
  • Read the fine print and know your consumer rights before you hit the shops or the sale sites

Originally a US tradition, the yearly Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales have well and truly hit Australian shores, with scores of local retailers taking part and bombarding us with slick marketing emails and targeted ads on Facebook.  

So how can you be sure you're getting a good deal and not a dud buy? Here are eight hot tips to help you navigate the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales with ease.

When are Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2020?

These epic sales are held on the Friday and Monday after Thanksgiving in the US, so this year they'll be:

  • Black Friday: Friday 27 November 2020
  • Cyber Monday: Monday 30 November 2020

While the 27th is the official day, many retailers have embraced the Black Friday phenomenon and you can find deals for a full week around the date, with early specials already on offer and discounts available throughout the following week. 

If you're shopping US sites, remember that the States are a day behind us, so keep an eye out for deals on Saturday 28 November (Australian time) and Tuesday 1 December for US sites that offer international shipping.

Here are our top tips to help you bag a bargain and avoid buying a dud. 

1. Do your research before you shop

We would say this, wouldn't we? But seriously, read all the things! 

  • Sign up to newsletters for special offers
  • Follow retailers or brands on social media to get a heads-up on deals 
  • Check out websites and apps like Google Shopping, GetPrice and ShopBot
  • Try price comparison apps like Shopular, ShopSavvy, BuyVia, ScanLife and others. 

And of course, check out CHOICE's reviews to make sure the product you want will live up to your expectations. 

2. Make sure the price is right

Just because something is on sale doesn't mean it's a good deal! Before you bust out your credit card or hit the 'buy now' button, make sure you know the recommended retail price and shop around for the best price. 

Sometimes it's worth considering alternatives to the big-name brands – as long as you've done your research. Check our reviews before you set your heart on a specific brand. We independently test each product in our labs to bring you unbiased results so you can choose the best product for your needs – and your budget. 

3. Make sure you know the actual price

If you're buying from an overseas retailer, there are a few things to consider. 

It might sound like a no-brainer, but make sure the shipping costs don't negate the savings you're making on your purchase.

CHOICE tip: Save money by bundling purchases with friends and family to qualify for free shipping. 

Aside from making sure the price is in Australian dollars, you'll also need to watch out for foreign transaction fees: you could be hit with fees by your credit card provider if the merchant's bank is outside Australia, even if you bought from a site ending in in Australian dollars. 

And watch out for credit card surcharges: businesses can only charge you what it costs them to process card payments. 

Check your credit card statements carefully after the sales period to make sure you haven't been overcharged.

4. Check compatibility for tech products

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are usually a good time for Aussies to shop overseas and avoid the 'Australia Tax' on personal tech such as iPhones, tablets and games. 

But don't get caught out! Lots of these devices and products are locked for overseas use only and you're unlikely to get a refund – or a sympathetic retailer – if you make such an error.

5. Is the product safe?

Be careful when you're picking up an absolute steal that you're not also picking up an unsafe product. 

While we have Australian Standards for many products, there are many products that don't have a mandatory safety standard – including many children's products like cot mattresses, high chairs and bassinets. 

CHOICE tip: If you're planning to stock up on toys for Christmas presents, here's how to buy the safest toys for babies and kids.

Not only that, but it's not illegal to sell unsafe products in Australia. Basically, this means that businesses are under no obligation to ensure they sell safe products, and they don't need to do anything unless their products cause serious injuries. 

Learn more about products you should think twice about buying from overseas

6. Keep online safety top of mind

When paying online, only use a secure payment service. Look for a URL that starts with 'https' and a closed padlock symbol, or use a reputable payment provider such as PayPal. 

Watch out for fake retailer websites too. Warning signs include:

  • Products advertised at prices that are too good to be true
  • Payment being requested via unusual channels, such as electronic funds transfer, wire service or iTunes vouchers or Bitcoin
  • Social media stores that sell at very low prices, but have little information about delivery and other policies
  • Online retailers that don't provide adequate information about privacy, terms and conditions of use, dispute resolution or contact details

7. Read the fine print

Retailers need to provide a remedy (refund, replacement or repair) for a faulty product, but they're not obliged to give you a refund or exchange if you just change your mind or find that something doesn't fit. 

If you're stocking up on Christmas gifts and you're not sure whether your mum will love that vacuum cleaner (hot tip: she probably won't), check the store's returns policy. Keep the box and receipt in case you do change your mind. 

You don't need the original packaging if you're returning a product because it's faulty. And 'no refund on sale items' signs are illegal: retailers must offer a refund or replacement on items with major faults, regardless of how much you paid. 

To make sure you know what you're entitled to, check out our article on refund rights.

8. Know your consumer rights

In Australia, you're protected under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), whether you've bought a product in a bricks-and-mortar store or an online store. 

Companies that sell to Australia need to adhere to the ACL, but while that's the case in theory, in practice you might find it difficult to get a satisfactory resolution if you have problems with a faulty product. 

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE