Consumer NZ's top tips for navigating 'bargains'

Source: 1News

Consumer NZ has some tips on how to get the best bang for one's buck when it comes to sales and how to avoid falling into the 'false sale' trap. 

The organisation's advice comes after it tracked pricing at big retailers  Briscoes, Farmers, Harvey Norman and Noel Leeming over 13 weeks.

It found 27 out of 31 products were on sale several times, with some products labelled as being 'on special' every week, despite prices bouncing up and down. 

"A sale is not always a sale," Consumer NZ's Gemma Rasmussen told Breakfast after the findings were released.

"Something needs to be a genuine discount and this is under the Fair Trading Act, so we do find that sometimes retailers are in fact misleading customers."

Rasmussen singled out a Panasonic microwave from Harvey Norman as a "really great example of how prices bounce around". 

The microwave went from a 'price matched' $240 one week, to a 'price reduced' $313 the next.

It was then marked down at $249 for four weeks, before rising to another 'price matched' of $298 for two weeks. 

Two weeks later it was a 'huge deal' at $268 — $28 more than when it first went on sale. 

A person making a purchase at a store.

Rasmussen said Consumer NZ questioned Harvey Norman about this, but it declined to comment. 

"Sometimes you’ll see something as a sale, but in fact the price has increased and I think it’s just a really great example so that consumers can take some time if they’re really interested in buying something and watch the price over a few weeks, because often you can feel that sense of 'oh I really need to buy it, it’s the biggest reduction' but this in fact could be good sales tactics," she said.

Rasmussen described the use of the words 'price matched' and 'huge deal' as "really good marketing spin".

She said it is used to persuade people and to try and create a sense of urgency.

"Try not to let your emotions overrun you when you see language like this in stores because sometimes it’s not necessarily genuine."

Rasmussen and Consumer NZ had the following tips: 

  • Keep your emotions in check. Don't necessarily believe there's a huge sale right off the bat
  • Price match. Keep an eye on the item/s for a few weeks so you can to get a true sense of what they could be selling for
  • Let the Commerce Commission know if you think you're seeing misleading pricing
  • "Pricing does need to be fair for New Zealanders and we’re all for that, especially at Christmas time," Rasmussen said.