How big was that saving really?

How big was that saving really?

So you saved 60% on a new gizmo on Black Friday - fabulous. But did you really? 60% off which price?  

Black Friday groceries
Black Friday/ iStock

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Takealot has been getting a lot of “It's a total scam!” shade on Twitter this week, with people saying the savings were grossly exaggerated.

With regard to a set of Berlinger pots being sold at a R1999, an alleged 58% saving, someone tweeted, “What a joke is this, I had these in my cart for months at the price of R2512, all of a sudden the original price is R6028.. daylight fraud…”

Here’s what you should know about how those saving percentages are calculated, and it doesn’t just apply to Takealot - it’s a sales tactic used the world over.

The “before” price used to come up with that enticing percentage is the “list” price, which is another term for the “recommended retail selling price" set by the supplier - not the price which that particular site or store used to sell the product for.

I daresay most consumers assume a claimed saving refers to the difference between what a product used to sell for - in that store - versus its current sales price.

I asked a Takealot spokesman if the company had ever sold those Berlinger pots for the list price of R6028 and she said she wasn’t sure. What she did know for sure was that for at least the past four months, that list price had not changed, while the selling price had.

The marketplace seller - in the case of those pots, that’s Precision Cookware - can choose to discount to whatever price they like, and they do, which makes the list price pretty irrelevant, if you ask me.

I think it would be more accurate - and transparent - to base the saving on the average price the product sold in, say, the past six months, rather than a price which may not ever have been applied.

But that’s the way it works. Good to know.

Even more reason to track the prices yourself, and not just in the lead up to Black Friday - any time you’re told a product is on sale.

Many jewellery stores and carpet retailers appear to have permanent sales, it seems. So what price are those “50% off” based on? Probably a Recommended Retail Selling Price that was never applied.


If you are disappointed as a customer, at least give them an honest explanation.

The trouble with bumper online sales is that with thousands of people in the virtual store, all hungry for bargains at the same time, is that you can think you’ve scored a bargain; you get the confirmation email and the payment confirmation SMS from your bank, but actually someone else has beaten you to it. The technology just can’t keep up.

Michael Sequeira bought a pair of New Balance running shoes for R400 the day before Black Friday, got the confirmation email, but later got another saying: “We would like to inform you that we have initiated a refund as we are not able to supply you with this product.”

“And not even an explanation!’ he said.

New Balance country manager Craig Bowen said the shoe was sold out in Michael’s size. “The live nature of eCommerce and a high rate of sales cadence during sales periods meant that someone else is likely to have bought the last size 8 in that particular shoe possibly moments before Mr Sequeira did,” he said.

As for the lack of an explanation, he said, “Providing “reasons” is often seen as making excuses and in our experience informing the customer of the situation at once, apologising and refunding her/him immediately was the most acceptable course of action. We also extended a discount coupon - 40% off his next purchase.”

I disagree - in my experience, consumers generally respond better to being given more information rather than less, when they have been let down by a service provider.

So I’m pretty sure a paragraph about that particular size selling out due to it being in high demand during the BF2019 sale period would have gone down better than “We are not able to supply you with this product.”

A lack of information almost always compounds the let-down, being seen as a sign of disrespect.

It would also avoid people jumping to conclusions as to the reason for the order being cancelled.

Also read: Surviving Black Friday

Get in touch with Wendy via her website or her Facebook page. Please note that Wendy is not able to personally respond to every email she receives. If she is able to take up your case, she will contact you directly. Here are other avenues for you to consider.

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