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What Are The 'Tricks' at a One Day Sale?

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 5 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Scam Sale Goods Fliers Liquidation One

“I received a leaflet advertising a sale of liquidation stock, with wide screen TVs and really good makes of laptops at really low prices. It says that they are only open for one day, because stocks are limited.

“I’ve been looking for a new TV for ages and I think I might go along, but is it a scam and too good to be true?”


Save your money – and don’t go to the sale. It’s just another way of scamming money from people, even though it sounds as though it’s an amazing, not to be missed bargain. It sounds fabulous but behind the slick operation and cleverly worded adverts it’s just another potential scam.Most of these sales are not run by local, or recognised, companies. They will operate out of hotels or village halls, and the contact details, if there are any on the flier, are generally mobile numbers.

This type of scam ‘end of line’ or ‘liquidation’ sale tends to concentrate on cheap electrical goods, and the adverts, either fliers or sometimes newspaper adverts in local media, concentrate on big brand names with huge discounts.

What Happens at a One Day Sale?

One day sales usually take place from behind an elevated counter so that you won’t be able to see the goods from where you’re standing. This is to help them perpetuate the scam of course, and so that you don’t see what you’re bidding for. You might see somebody win an item and excitedly take it from their box...the chances are that anyone allowed to remove the goods in full view of the rest of the crowds will be known to the sellers. It’s done to make you see that someone’s got themselves a great deal, and make you want one too.

The sales patter is usually very clever, and it means that it’s hard for trading standards officers to take any action – they rarely say anything that is blatantly untrue, and manage to stay just within the law. If you give in to temptation and buy something, you probably won’t be able to inspect it at the sale, you’ll be told that there’s no room and that you’ll be able to bring it back if there’s a problem.

Invariably, when you do check your purchase, it will be faulty, substandard or not what you were led to believe it would be.

This is when you realise that you can’t contact the seller, the website and mobile numbers seem to be out of use, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. You've been scammed. If you’ve bought the goods on your credit card, you still have the protection of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 (Section 75) if you spent over £100. You’ll need to contact your card issuer and follow their procedure to claim the money back. If you paid by cash, cheque or debit card though you will have to accept that there’s nothing you can do to get an exchange, a refund, or even find out where the people who sold you the rubbish in the first place are.

Your best course of action if you hear about a sale like this is to contact your local trading standards office before it happens, and let them know, then just throw the leaflet in the recycling.

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