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Consumers warned of false reductions ahead of "Black Friday"

Illustration picture shows a person shopping online on a website in French, searching for discounts for the 'Black Friday' sales event. (BELGA PHOTO LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ)
06:31 24/11/2021

The discounted shopping days of "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" may seem like the ideal opportunities to grab a bargain but not all discounts are exactly what they seem, according to the secretary of state for consumer protection Eva De Bleeker. She urges consumers to exercise caution and be aware of false reductions.

De Bleeker welcomed the benefits offered to consumers but explained that some companies take advantage of them to mislead potential customers. Fake discounts are sometimes offered by first sharply increasing prices and then artificially lowering them, she explained. This method is expressly prohibited by the Law on Market Practices and Consumer Protection.

Last year, the Economic Inspectorate conducted a "Black Friday" investigation and 17 of the 31 websites checked did not comply with the rules. The infringements relate mainly to misleading practices concerning prices, the way in which they are calculated and the existence of a specific price advantage.

"Do not buy too impulsively and check if the discount is granted on the original price," De Bleeker advised.

Suspicious offers can be reported by consumers and merchants through the site.

Stricter rules on the indication of price reductions will come into force next year. The federal government has given the green light to a bill that clarifies the rules for announcing reductions, forcing companies to indicate the lowest price applied in the period of at least 30 days preceding the reduction.