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Amazon Prime Days: Consumer advocates advise prudence

Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

After the discount campaign is before the discount campaign: On October 10 and 11, the Amazon Prime Deal Days will take place for customers of the US company. Already last July, the company advertised discounts on the so-called Prime Day. Now follows "the 48-hour, pre-Christmas shopping event," as Amazon writes. Black Friday, Black Week and Cyber Monday will follow in a few weeks.

But for shoppers, the online bargain days are not always worth it. Last year, about a third of the products in demand during Black Friday were actually more expensive than before, according to an analysis by SPIEGEL. For other products, many retailers raised prices in the run-up to the discount campaign in order to be able to lower them.

Check Prices, Plan Purchases

That's why consumer advocates are calling for prudence. You shouldn't let yourself be put under pressure by the constantly unlocked offers. "The Christmas season is approaching, and in one way or another, many people are looking for bargains," Kathrin Bartsch, a legal expert at the Lower Saxony Consumer Advice Center, told SPIEGEL. "But at best, you should think about it independently of such days of action: What do I actually want? What gift would someone be happy to receive? And don't buy so much on suspicion."

In addition, the advertised discounts should be checked. The manufacturer's recommended retail price could make reductions appear larger than they actually are. "A 50 percent discount on the manufacturer's price sounds unbeatable," says Bartsch. "However, other retailers may also offer the product below the recommended retail price."

An overview of offers can be found in free price comparison portals such as idealo.de, billiger.de and geizhals.de. There, the price development of individual products can often be tracked. In this way, it is possible to check how good an offer really is and whether its price has suddenly risen shortly before a discount campaign.

In order to participate in the current Amazon promotion, a so-called Prime subscription is required, which costs either 8.99 euros per month or 89.90 euros per year. According to the company, the offers for new Prime subscribers are already available within the 30-day free trial period, which can be cancelled at any time.

Amazon withholds a complete overview of all products offered. However, numerous manufacturers point out their offers in advance. We have evaluated some of the offers below as examples.

Smart Grill Thermometers

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Meater's smart barbecue thermometers are on sale at a 25 per cent discount during Prime Days. As is often the case with Prime Day deals, this sounds better than it is, because the discounts are deducted from the list price, not the street price. For example, the Meater in the single version at Amazon costs 81.75 euros on the sale days, instead of 109 euros, which would be almost 28 euros discount. However, you can find the same product via price comparison portals and search engines at prices starting at 90 euros, including shipping. Thus, the Prime Day advantage melts down to a meagre eight euros. But it is cheaper and thus eliminates the biggest point of criticism that we found in the test of the Meater thermometers: the high price.

Robotic vacuum cleaner

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Self-cleaning robot vacuums put to the test:Self-cleaning cleanersBy Berti Kolbow-Lehradt

The manufacturer Ecovacs offers its robot vacuum cleaner with a discount of up to 55 percent on the recommended retail price. In view of the steep prices – the Deebot X2 Omni is on the price list at 1399 euros – this can be worth it. At least if you think you need a robot with "hot water mop cleaning". We didn't test the current models, but we did test the previous model, the Deebot X1 Omni. It shone with lavish functions and a great app, but weakened when vacuuming and mopping, of all things.

Smart Radiator Thermostats

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Smart thermostats put to the test:When the heating is automaticBy Berti Kolbow-Lehradt

Tado offers 30 to 50 percent off its connected radiator thermostats and temperature sensors. It's worth taking a close look at them. For example, the 50 percent discount only applies to a starter kit that includes three thermostats in the Basic version. Compared to the standard models, these lack some features, and you can only adjust the temperature between 19 and 25 degrees with them. For other temperature requests, you need the app. In our group test of smart radiator thermostats, we liked the well-thought-out control and functions such as window open detection. Unfortunately, some options can only be used with a Tado subscription.

Smart Door Locks

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The company Nuki is offering its top model, the Smart Lock 3.0 Pro, with a 25 percent discount for 209 euros on Prime Days. The advantage of this gadget is that you can attach it to your door lock without any modifications, you don't need an additional bridge or the like, because the device can be connected to the Wi-Fi. Its predecessor already convinced us in the test with its simple installation. In order for the motor-driven mechanics to work well, however, a good lock and a smoothly adjusted door are necessary.

Mobile Power Stations

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When it comes to XXL batteries for camping and other outdoor activities, Ecoflow, for example, offers a discount of up to 33 percent on the Delta 2. In the test, we liked that this power station offers a lot of connectivity options, looks good and is relatively light. However, you should always place it protected, because it is not sealed against rain. In addition, the discount should be treated with caution, because here too it refers to the list price of 1199 euros, which corresponds to just under 400 euros and a retail price of around 800 euros. While the device was actually offered on Amazon for 1179 euros on Monday, it was on offer at various other online retailers at the same time with prices of sometimes less than 900 euros.

It's a similar story with Anker's Solix F1200, which we've also tested. The manufacturer is offering this power station on Prime Days with a 20 percent discount for 799 instead of 999 euros. That sounds tempting, but it shouldn't be. On Monday, we found several suppliers in price search engines where the F1200 is also offered at similar prices.