The institution of Black Friday is at its peak today, where shopkeepers who have been waiting for the big day to sell their products has arrived, while at the same time consumers have rushed from the morning hours to the markets, since they consider it to be their big opportunity to take advantage of the discounts that were advertised in the previous days in soil prices. Are the prices really… dirt, or are unsuspecting citizens falling prey to misleading advertisements?
It is true that in recent years Black Friday has become a habit and in fact it no longer lasts just one day, but a whole week, with shopkeepers trying to make the most of this campaign in order to attract the interest of consumers, with awesome, as they describe them, sales.
However, the fact that in the last few days a total of twenty complaints have been registered with the Consumer Protection Service is particularly impressive. Specifically, these are complaints from consumers, which refer to virtual discount rates from markets, with products that are not available in the store, while it was clear on the market's internet that the product is available. Also, other complaints have to do with vouchers that are in circulation. However, when we buy something online, outside of a store, the right of withdrawal is activated, an important tool for consumers, since they can terminate the agreement with the company within fourteen days, from the day they receive the product, and the company must return their money back.
For its part, the Cyprus Consumers Association, has already proceeded with checks on the market, with the Legal Adviser of the Consumers Association, Virginia Christou, in statements that granted to REPORTER, to mention that some businesses have already proceeded to announce discounts from the previous days citing Black Friday, while it normally officially starts today, Friday. “We have observed the movement in the market, the prices that exist and the first complaints from consumers have already been registered which will be investigated and by extension, where necessary, they will also be notified to the competent state agency for further control”.
An appeal to consumers, is that they must be particularly careful in relation to the high rates of discounts that exist, since some of which may be virtual, with the ultimate aim of approaching the consumer to visit the business and to buy any product. Also, they should be very careful in listing the prices, since the original price and the final price arrived at, due to the discount imposed by a company, should always be written on the label.
At the same time, the advertising brochures that consumers receive are also important and in them are presented products that have a discount. In this case, indicated Ms. Christou, “the consumer must be suspicious, so that if he visits the store and the store tells him that it does not have the products in question available, then he is clearly dealing with a violation and therefore he must immediately contact the Protection Association, either with the Consumer Protection Service, to proceed with the relevant complaint”.
The problem, however, seems to be found mainly in online markets with high rates of discounts, where some were virtual, but also cases of businesses using the internet as a medium to advertise these discounts. As explained by Ms. Christou, “if consumers see high percentages of discounts, such as up to 75% off, and there are no products that are 75% off, then again there is a question of possible infringement”.
It is worth noting , that the administrative fine imposed by the Consumer Protection Service can reach up to 500,000 euros, although the European Legislation allows the Member States to increase the fine up to two million. As can be seen, Ms. Christou, “after such a large fine, it will be quite difficult for the same company to continue its viability. To date, however, no such fine has been imposed in Cyprus”.