The Black Friday complaints lag

6 min read
November 24, 2020

Black Friday isn’t just a day to ‘impulse’ buy. We may arguably be spending more time at home using our technology but like any other year, many of us have been holding out on the big purchases to see if we can get the deals over that ‘sale’ period – and often we’ve been planning for it.

Resolver can reveal that more than 6,000 complaints since November 2017 have been specifically relating to retail purchases made as part of a Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal. But what is particularly telling is when these complaints are happening.

Overall year on year we saw significantly more complaints made about purchases between January and April – several months after the original purchase – than at the end of November itself. Specifically:

  • January to April 2020 saw a 22% hike in complaint numbers compared to the numbers in November and December 2019.
  • In March 2020 as the nation began lockdown, there were 353 complaints relating to Black Friday purchases, more than twice the number of those in November 2019.
  • Every year since 2017, December saw more than twice the number of complaints than November – indicating that the complaints were about more than ‘not getting the deal on the day’.

Why the lag in Black Friday complaints?

It probably comes as little surprise that we could see a number of complaints concerning faulty products developing an issue some time after it was ordered, or that goods actually became cheaper after Black Friday. But looking through our complaints data we can also see that:

  • People were buying larger ‘big ticket’ items in preparation for a life event – for example, moving house or a new arrival. This often meant that they were using Black Friday deals to save money by buying ‘in advance’ of them actually needing the goods.
  • Black Friday was for our users a prime time to shop for Christmas presents – meaning in some cases they could get that high-value sought after gift, such as a TV, for a cheaper price. It often meant however that faults were not discovered until the big day itself.
  • In some cases users were offered a refund rather than a repair or replacement – meaning that if they really wanted that item in particular they were faced with potentially buying it at a higher price – thereby not getting the saving they had perhaps planned for.

What we think retailers should do

It’s clear to Resolver that Black Friday is not just being treated as a ‘chance your arm’ trawl over the internet, and in fact many people are in fact waiting for the bargains to appear. 

This year will undoubtedly make that more prolific. As we write, some of our most popular online retailers are offering Black Friday deals now. In the face of the high street being largely closed over the event – which we may or may not have been expecting – those online orders will no doubt be even more in demand than retailers would have already been expecting. Shoppers are not just searching idly for a cut-price impulse buy, and in fact they are looking to get what they think is a good deal on the planned purchases that are important to them. 

What we can also bank on is that if Christmas presents are being bought, the delivery address will likely be the recipient in preparation for potentially not being able to hand the gift over face-to-face. What this will mean is that even more Black Friday purchases will be unopened before the magic 14-day cancellation right or 30-day rule to send back a faulty item without question, and perhaps even more hassle for both the purchaser or the recipient to get things put right. 

Resolver’s CEO Alex Neill is calling for retailers to extend their returns policies, like they already do at Christmas, for those purchasing Black Friday bargains. It’s clear that now more than ever consumers need that added reassurance that they won’t end up with a faulty good or a dud Christmas present.

No matter what time of year it is, if you have a complaint about your Black Friday buys, Resolver can help. Start your complaint for free.

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