Buyer beware: Some pre-Black Friday deals aren’t actually offering you any true saving

Business Insider SA

Price Review

Black Friday sale deal special discount
(Image: Getty)
  • Black Friday is technically on 26 November this year, but retailers are already pushing so-called deals with sales leading up to the day.
  • There are some good deals currently floating around, but Takealot is using the opportunity to flog items with drastically overstated discounts.
  • In one case, an alleged saving of R31,000 on baking equipment appears to be R22,000 more expensive than one competitor’s non-sale price.
  • Here are some questionable Black Friday deals that either aren’t saving you much or are seriously overstating their discounts.
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Black Friday is still a few weeks away, but online retailers are already pushing online deals in the lead-up to the shopping event. Historically, retailers reserve the best Black Friday deals for the day, particularly when it comes to big-ticket items and everyday essentials that people actually need.

South Africa’s biggest online retailer Takealot is pushing a Black Friday countdown sale with double-digit percentage discounts on several products. On big-ticket items, this can represent saving claims into the tens of thousands.

Takealot says, “in the lead-up to the biggest sale of the year, we’re bringing you four weeks of epic Blue Dot Countdown deals! Don’t miss a day, don’t miss a deal!” But online stores in South Africa are notorious for posting inaccurate recommended retail prices and promoting even minimal discounts as far more significant than they are. 

In the build-up to Black Friday sales, Business Insider has found some deals that are more expensive, or at least the same price, in the Blue Dot Countdown sale than they are elsewhere.

Here are some of the worst offenders.

Gatto Dough Sheeter

VirtChoo sells a Gatto Dough Sheeter through Takealot for R84,999 as part of the store’s Blue Dot Countdown to Black Friday sale. The retailer claims the discount on the product is R31,000, or 26%. That’s a saving significant enough to get even non-bakers excited.

But Business Insider found the same product at two competing online catering supplies companies. The cheapest of the two costs just R62,776, nearly half that of Takealot’s claimed retail price, and with no mention of a sale. 

Another online store advertised the retail price as R103,389.40 - but was still selling the product for R12,000 less than Takealot’s Black Friday Count Down deal.

Scotsman Ice Machine

Takealot is selling a Scotsman EC 126 Ice Machine, also as part of its Countdown sale, for R44,299, on behalf of Exclusive Solutions. The store claims shoppers are saving R5,836, or 11%. 

But Scotsman’s official online price list disagrees - they are selling the same product for R43,599. This price is R700 less than Takealot’s Count Down sale price - and R6,536 less than Takealot’s claimed retail price.

Sony Alpha a7R IV A Mirrorless Digital Camera Body

Takealot is selling a Sony camera that they claim is R16,500 cheaper on their Countdown sale. It’s not a bad deal, but it is misleading - at least three camera retailers are selling it for the same price. 

To further confuse matters, there are at least four different “recommended retail prices” floating around the internet.

Anvil Pizza Oven

This Anvil Pizza Oven is allegedly selling for a massive R10,499 discount under Takealot’s pre-Black Friday sale. But the claimed 26% off is significantly out of kilter from other online stores selling the same item. 

A more accurate retail price appears to be closer to R27,000 - still R1,500 cheaper than Takealot’s Countdown sale. 

Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD Lens

Takealot says this Tamron lens usually sells for R24,800, and that they’re currently selling it for 23% off as part of their build-up sale. 

However, at least two other camera shops sell the lens for cheaper than Takealot’s Black Friday build-up sale. More tellingly, neither competing store quotes a recommended retail price close to Takealot’s claimed R24,800 - the highest they go on this front is R21,795.

Avoiding Black Friday duds

There’s no doubt that some South African retailers are going to offer good discounts this Black Friday. But the double-digit percentage discounts based on unregulated retail prices are seldom as incredible as they sound. 

If you’re shopping around, keep in mind that there’s no legislation governing exaggeration of retail prices and discounts. Although it doesn’t always mean you’re not getting any discount at all, it’s a common trick stores use to convince shoppers they’re getting better deals than they are.

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