We’ve all seen them, the arrogant flashing posts in the corner of the websites that we slowly scan for a deal.
From thefts to furniture, blenders to bikes, online retailers use a plethora of pressurized sales tactics to part with our money as quickly as possible so that we don’t overthink it.
By pushing us to make buying decisions quickly, without carefully considering whether we really need it, what budget we have to play with or where we might find that product, these retailers are hoping to capture our online reading and convert to profit beforehand. to click.
Some are using pop-ups to alert us that hundreds of other people are viewing or have purchased this item – suggesting, among other things, that stock may run out soon and that we would be in good company if we buy. Others do a lot of big discounts during classic sales periods such as Boxing Day and Black Friday.
The clock is turning
Retailers, and everyone for that matter, must comply with a series of regulations on how they advertise goods and services, including the beliefs that accompany basic details, pricing, and features. Essentially, they must be true and not misleading.
That goes for all those “90 people viewed this item in the last 12 seconds” and “300 people bought it today” claims that invariably seem to pop up as well. Then there is the infamous countdown timer – the window that slowly closes to purchase that item or service that will absolutely, definitely complement you as a person or, if it is a gift, will achieve all of you. the recipient’s dreams. And – for a limited time only – at a great price.
But these clocks are not always what they appear to be. This week, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) confirmed a complaint from a Wowcher customer who purchased a mattress earlier this year at a 30% discount. They had expected the price to revert to full price when the leading countdown went to zero, but the deal was simply canceled.
The ASA found this misleading because, oddly enough, when a clock stops, we expect something to change.
Wowcher and other deal sites sell vouchers to customers which are redeemed across businesses in exchange for goods and services at a discounted price.
Part of the deal that this type of website makes with traders is to sell a specific number of units in exchange for the discount, so they have to sell a lot and quickly.
This is why these sites have become masters of forced or pressured selling, convincing us to grab these offers quickly before they disappear. Wowcher used the countdown approximately 50 million times last year. While this aspect of advertising is not a problem in principle, it should be done with precision and fairness.
In this case, Wowcher argued that the clock was there to reassure consumers that the price would remain valid for at least the length of the countdown.
The company is well known among its audience as a discount retailer, he said, and as such it does not sell any goods or services at full price. full sale price at the end of the countdown ”.
The ASA clearly disagreed.
“We have seen an increase in complaints about countdown clocks in recent months,” adds Lydia Marshall of the ASA. “Our rules state that countdown clocks can be used in conjunction with promotions to give consumers legitimate notice of the end of a promotion.
“It can be misleading if after the countdown the prices stay the same or are even lower. We have rules against deceptive pressure selling tactics, and claims in advertisements that put undue pressure on consumers to make a purchase can be problematic.
So where does this leave the consumer trying to find their way through the discount shopping sites? How can you get the right price at the right time for the goods or services you want and need while battling the sophisticated tactics that these and many other retailers are using to convince you to buy what they want? sell?
How to handle the pressure
We are constantly bombarded with selling messages – some more subtle than others. The shoppers who don’t succumb are those who have a plan, a list, and a budget when shopping, whether it’s on the main street or online. They don’t shy away from it, no matter what tempting “must-haves” stand in front of them.
If you really want to shop through discount sites, use the same spending approach you use for any other purchase. Don’t be sidetracked by the wide, eclectic array of things you could buy as you browse through them to find the things you should buy. Think of it as the middle aisle of your local discount supermarket. If you’re not careful you’ll end up with a set of snow chains and a lobster every time.
It seems obvious, but don’t assume that the offer on offer is the best. Resist the countdown or just your own last minute Christmas buying squeeze to compare prices before you hit the “buy” button. This includes checking the merchant’s website.
The traders who use these sites are actually buying exposure to their target market and this could be costly. They may be tempted to inflate the original or full price and then counter the effects of the discount they offer on the discount site. So instead of comparing the discount, compare the final price you will pay, including any delivery or other service or administration costs.
Remember to check the fine print on all vouchers if you continue to buy from these sites, especially for time or other restrictions on where you can redeem the voucher, when and how.