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Black Week Discount Week: Not All Offers Are Worth It

Photo: Leon Neal / Getty Images

What once began as a sale day now stretches over a week, for some retailers even more: The so-called Black Week is open and leads to Black Friday on November 24, followed by Cyber Monday on November 27. Numerous retailers are once again flooding their customers with offers. However, not all offers are as good a deal for buyers as it seems at first glance.

A year ago, about a third of the products in demand on Black Friday were more expensive than before, according to an analysis by SPIEGEL. In addition, in some cases, retailers increase their prices in the run-up to a discount campaign in order to make their offers look more attractive.

Accordingly, consumer advocates advise : Keep calm and plan Christmas shopping before the discount days. "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. Her advice should also apply now: "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."

Beware of bargain mails

Many retailers – and not only them – try to draw attention to their offers with promotional emails on the days around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. "Cybercriminals take advantage of this fact and smuggle their dangerous messages among these e-mail traffic by spoofing the sender addresses of well-known brands," warns Miro Mitrovic of cybersecurity firm Proofpoint. He advises not to click on the links in advertising emails, but to manually enter the addresses of the advertising companies into the browser if you are interested in the advertised products.

If you have clicked on such a link, it is important to be careful. Again and again, criminals put deceptively real-looking copies of websites of established providers online in order to harvest login data, collect money for counterfeit goods or rip off their victims with supposed bargains that do not even exist.

Often, such a page can be recognized by spelling errors in the Internet address, for example if it says onlinefl0p.de instead of onlineflop.de. An easy way to identify possible counterfeits is the Fakeshop Finder of the consumer advice centres.

So check who smells bargains

Whether an offer is really good can often be found out via price comparison portals such as idealo.de, billiger.de and geizhals.de. There you can find out how expensive an advertised product is at other retailers. Often, such pages also allow you to track the price development in the run-up to the offer. Even the manufacturers' often very high recommended retail price can make offers look better than they 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."

As an example, we have analyzed some of the numerous Black Friday offers in more detail below.

Smart Door Locks

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Smartlock manufacturer Yale offers the smart door keys of the Linus series with hefty discounts. You can save up to 40 percent of the list price if you buy a complete package for 239.95 euros, consisting of a networked door lock, Wi-Fi bridge for remote control via the Internet and a keypad for entering opening codes. The starter set without keypad is only 40 euros cheaper. By way of comparison, the set of lock, bridge and keypad is offered on the market for around 350 euros. A tip: The combination of Smartlock and Bridge is also available from Yale's cooperation partner Bosch. This package is offered at prices starting from 149 euros.

In our test, the large and very solidly crafted smart door lock proved to be cosmopolitan, as it can be linked to Apple Homekit, the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. In addition, it works very quietly and has many extras such as the possibility to integrate it directly into Airbnb's rental system.

USB Universal Chargers

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Anker is promoting the Anker 737 Charger for Black Friday. The charger with two USB-C and one USB-A port delivers up to 120 watts when connecting multiple devices. That's enough to charge large notebooks and power a smartphone and tablet at the same time. For Black Friday, it will be offered with a 30 percent discount for 66.49 euros instead of 94.99 euros. Considering street prices of around and over 90 euros, this is a good deal.

In our test, the Anker 737 charged our MacBook Pro stably with an output of 91.5 watts, even when other devices were connected. A Xiaomi 13 Pro smartphone connected to the test tank it with 20 watts, a Samsung Galaxy and an iPhone 14 Pro each with up to 26 watts. The only points of criticism: The packaging is indulging in plastic and the charger itself protrudes very far beyond the socket.

Bone Conduction Headphones

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Manufacturer Shokz offers its open-ear headphones with a discount of up to 30 percent, 30 percent of the list price, mind you. For example, the OpenRun Pro goes over the digital counter for 132.95 euros instead of 189.95 euros, the OpenMove for 62.95 euros instead of 89.95 euros. At least with the OpenMove this is a good offer, as it is usually offered in online shops at prices around 80 euros, rarely even ten euros cheaper. In the case of OpenRun Pro, the price reduction compared to online offers, which cost around 150 euros, shrinks to about 17 euros, much less than the 30 percent that the manufacturer promises in its advertising.

In the Stiftung Warentest test, none of these models was able to convince in terms of sound, which is also due to the design principle: Instead of playing music and speech into the ears with loudspeakers, their sound transducers generate vibrations that are transmitted from the cheekbones to the inner ear and from there to the brain. Because the ears remain free, you can perceive your surroundings undiminished, which is important in road traffic, for example. Despite the criticism, the two Shokz headphones occupy the top two places in the test. However, only with overall scores of 3.1 (OpenRun Pro) and 3.4 (OpenMove).

Mobile Power Stations

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When it comes to XXL batteries for camping and other outdoor activities, Ecoflow, for example, offers the Delta 2 at a price of 899 instead of 1199 euros. 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. Online retailers still offered the Delta 2 on November 16 at prices starting at 755 euros.

At the same time, Jackery's Explorer 2160 Pro, which is very powerful with a capacity of 2000 watt hours, is advertised with a whopping discount of 35 percent on the list price, which according to the manufacturer costs "only 1499 euros". In the test, we liked the fact that it lasts a very long time and has a lot of connections available. The high weight of 19.5 kilograms and the high list price were negative. In view of the current Black Friday offer, however, it is also noticeable that the Explorer 2000 Pro is already being offered in stores before the discount day at prices around and below 1500 euros.

Sustainable instead of new

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The Dutch company Fairphone, which strives to produce its smartphones in a socially responsible and easily repairable way, is coming to Black Friday with an alternative proposal to bargain shopping. Instead of reducing the price of new devices, the company is offering refurbished copies of the Fairphone 2021, which was launched in 4. They have been carefully tested and equipped with a battery as good as new, and will receive software updates at least until 2026, according to Fairphone.

In our test, the device was able to score above all with its repairability and the update promise, performance and cameras were only mediocre, so the new Fairphone 5 can do more. Fairphone should reconsider its asking price: At the manufacturer, refurbished copies in the version with 128 GB of storage cost 469 euros. Online retailers now offer the same model at prices starting at 449 euros.