It’s the time of year when shops entice you with promises of big savings on electrical goods – but our latest investigation reveals some of these offers actually deliver little or no real savings at all.
We tracked the prices of electrical goods over the course of six months at Amazon, Argos, Currys and John Lewis and found a number of ‘deals’ where the savings either didn’t exist or were much lower than claimed. In one example, Argos claimed that you were saving £200 on a Nikon camera, but you were actually saving £9 compared with the previous month. Meanwhile, Amazon sold a Canon camera at £959, claiming you were saving £280 compared with the RRP, but Canon had the typical selling price as £959 – so you weren’t saving anything.
The picture gallery below reveals more of the dodgy special offers we’ve uncovered. Our full investigation ‘Fairytale special offers on electricals’ appears in the January 2015 issue of Which?. If you’re not already a member, sign up for a £1 trial to receive Which? magazine and full access to thousands of product reviews on Which.co.uk.
Getting a good deal on electrical products
Here are some tips for finding out if you’re getting a good deal on electricals.
1) It sounds obvious, but to find the best deal, look at the actual price, not the claimed saving. We found that the cheapest price for a product wasn’t necessarily the one that was reduced – even when other shops were claiming savings.
2) Decide up front what you’re buying and don’t be swayed by offers. Use our product reviews to pick the best product for you – from breadmakers to pushchairs.
3) If you’re shopping online and sort products by price, be aware that the cheapest products may not come up first. Watch out for sponsored products or products owned by the website you’re on e.g Amazon Kindle, still coming first in the sorted list.
4) You can compare prices across a range of online shops for each product we’ve reviewed, on Which.co.uk. You can also use manufacturers’ RRPs or typical selling prices shown on their websites as a guide to check whether a special offer is genuine.
5) If you’re buying a TV or washing machine, use our online Which? Price Predictor to find out whether it’s a good time to buy. The Price Predictor shows whether the cost of a washing machine or TV is expected to rise, remain stable or fall over the next seven days. It shows pricing data from up to two years ago so you can see how the price has changed over time. Find out more about the Which? Price Predictor tool.
Electrical offers – companies respond
We asked the shops that sold the products shown above about their offers.
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 for the Sony example 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.’