Sale shopping makes it hard to exercise control, but it's important to stay savvy to avoid scams this Amazon Prime Day. It's easy to get caught up in the marketing hype, however many scammers are using the once-a-year event as a chance to catch out consumers.
The flurry of substantial markdowns makes many shoppers an easy target, and speedy online purchases make it simple to be misled by dodgy domains or inaccurate price tags. So, to help you shop with care and ease this Prime holiday, we've put together some of the most common (and lesser-known) scams to make note of.
The retail giant has a range of sales throughout the two-day period, this year on 12th and 13th July, discounting anything from vacuum cleaners (opens in new tab) to gadgets like smartwatches (opens in new tab) and Bluetooth headsets (opens in new tab), making it a prime opportunity to strike a bargain. Founded in 2015 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the business, it has developed into one of the biggest online shopping events, offering Prime members the opportunity to save money on a massive variety of household items.
Julian House, Managing Director of My Favourite Voucher Codes (opens in new tab), says, "Be vigilant of ‘exploding’ offers like when an item is (supposedly) only available while stocks last. These short-term offers are designed to create a sense of urgency within the consumer, forcing them into making a decision on whether they should purchase the item then and there in fear of it being gone by the next time they visit. Don’t be fooled, if an item is popular enough then any store will definitely restock it!"
You will of course need an Amazon Prime membership to gain access to the discounts. This is currently $14.99 a month or $139 a year and includes free next-day delivery on selected products, Amazon Prime Video, Prime Reading, and many more features. It is also free for the first 30 days, allowing you to test it out before committing.
It's tricky to say no to a hefty discount and Amazon’s marketing around Prime Day makes it easy to get swept up, making you spend money on things you may not need for the sake of a good deal. As with any sale shopping, it’s important to maintain some perspective on what makes a worthwhile purchase, so planning ahead will help you to thoroughly digest any potential buys before taking the plunge.
1. Some deals have already started
This year, the dates for Prime Day are set as the 12th and 13th July, but this doesn’t mean some discounts haven’t snuck through the net.
Believe it or not, early Amazon Prime Day deals (opens in new tab) started appearing as early as 21st June, long before most shoppers focus on securing the best bargains. So try your best not to get side-tracked by the rush of the 2-day period - chances are the sales will last for longer than you think and even come back around.
Many other retailers are also now competing with the grand event, with many of their own sales starting before the big rush. This makes it ever the more important to shop around to ensure you are getting the best price, at the right time.
2. Be aware of price hikes
Perhaps one of the most common shopping scams out there, but one of the easiest to miss, is when retailers increase the price of an item only to then reduce it at the point of sale. This creates the illusion of a huge discount, luring consumers in to snap up what they believe are substantial savings.
A good way to avoid this is by always checking the price of an item across multiple retailers, to assess any discrepancies. Carefully considering potential purchases in advance of sales will also be a good indicator of whether this is occurring, as you will have a better understanding of the cost beforehand.
3. Double check the seller
While Amazon is home to an abundance of certified, established businesses, it is also relatively simple to become a seller on the site.
This sometimes means that third-party sellers set up accounts with believable images and biographies that are hard to immediately distinguish from legit companies.
Always double check who you're buying from by clicking on the sellers name which will take you to their storefront. Should any problems arise with shipping or returns, it is far easier to gain a response from an official business, rather than a third-party who may handle issues outside of Amazon's terms of service.
4. Be wary of fake reviews
When you see a huge range of 4 and 5-star reviews, it is easy to take it at face value and race into adding the item to your cart. But how many times have you stopped to not only read them in detail but also check who wrote them?
With many companies aiming to increase their site rankings and sales, some take to review websites such as Trustpilot (opens in new tab)to generate fake reviews. A few things you can do to spot any fictitious ratings are as follows:
- Check the reviewers profile: Have they bought and reviewed similar products in the past? Generally, there should be a natural pattern to their shopping habits whereas if they have bene paid to review items, it may not build up an accurate consumer image.
- Check the review dates: If multiple reviews were posted on the same day, this could be a sign a user has been paid to upload fake ratings in bulk.
- Read the reviews in detail: Fake reviews are more likely to contain spelling errors or little detail about the product, so make sure you are assessing the actual content, not just the star rating.
5. Double check domains
Scammers are getting better at creating websites that look almost exactly the same as Amazon, however the domain will always be different. Make sure you take a close look at the URL, as often the spelling will be very similar (think Amason, not Amazon) but in doing so can save you substantial sums of money.
Julian House, Managing Director of My Favourite Voucher Codes (opens in new tab), also recommended to "avoid websites which you don’t recognise and don’t click on any hyperlinks which look suspicious. If you’re bombarded with multiple pop-up windows, that’s a classic red flag of a fraudulent website."
In other words, always double check that you are accessing Amazon from a legitimate, verified link or browser, to avoid buying on fake sites or from having your card details stolen.