A tool has been launched to help customers find good deals and unmask "fake" promotions ahead of Black Friday on 26 November.
Consumer rights organisation Test Achats has warned customers to be aware of false promotions and false discounts and launched its platform "Rate My Deal" on Wednesday, identifying good and bad deals based on its analysis of 1,945 products ranging from smartphones to televisions and microwave ovens, sold on 67 webshops, including Amazon and bol.com.
Test Achats' experts looked at how the price of a product changed since it first came on the market, then compared prices across shops to find out whether a particular promotion is "really a good deal."
The "Rate My Deal" platform allows consumers to see those price changes made in the past months, ensuring the discount advertised for the occasion of Black Friday is actually worthwhile.
According to the FPS Economy, an announcement of a price reduction must be effective and not misleading, but shops sometimes raise their prices ahead of time, then decrease them back to a more normal level for the day of the promotion.
A good deal, or a scam?
The platform indicates "good" deals with a green colour based not only on the price for Black Friday, which has to be lower than the price offered during the rest of the year, but also if the product gets a good quality rating in Test Achats' quality test (at least 60-65% in its shopping guide).
"Bad" deals - whose advertised price is at least 10% higher than the lowest price found on the market in the last 12 months, or whose quality is simply not good enough - are coloured red.
"We are still the only ones in the market who subject products to extensive laboratory tests before evaluating them. That is time-consuming and expensive, but it enables us to provide an objective and thorough product analysis," Test Achats' spokesperson Simon November said.
The organisation warned that in any case, consumers should be wary of high discounts, and instead look at how expensive or cheap something is. They added that the conditions for the total cost, including shipping, should always be checked as well.
Black Friday, which falls on the Friday following Thanksgiving Day, first started in the United States as a shopping day during which many stores offer highly-promoted sales and even open extra early, marking the unofficial beginning of the Christmas shopping season.
In recent years, the trend is now also seen across in many European countries, including in Belgium, where customers cannot escape being inundated with Black Friday deals and promotions. The promotional period has also expanded to a longer time frame, often starting days before Thanksgiving and running until Cyber Monday.
Some companies in Belgium, including Decathlon and Xandres, have decided to not take part in this year's shopping craze, and are instead launching sustainable, more eco-friendly actions during Black Friday week.