El Buen Fin or El Mal Fin?

It’s that time again! El Buen Fin – the Mexico sale equivalent to Black Friday and Cyber Monday north of the border. The literal translation of El Buen Fin is The Good Weekend. Starting this week, you will see signs in pharmacies, retail stores, department stores, liquor stores and newspapers promoting that their locations will have at least some of their items on sale.

But buyer beware! Just because it is on sale does not mean it is a good deal. To help make sure you have a buen fin and don’t get scammed (after all, who wants a mal fin – a bad weekend?), here are some important shopping tips:

  • An age-old retail trick is to inflate the original price of the item significantly higher, then promote the regular price as a sales price. The customer thinks they are getting a great deal when in fact they are really paying the market value. Always do your research ahead of time to make sure that the price you are paying has not been artificially inflated before the sale.
  • Another retail trick is to offer regular products and when there is a big sale, substitute it with items that are not as good quality and with fewer features. While the customer is thinking they are getting the version they have seen on the shelves, the one on sale is different. Make sure you know the model # and the features of the item that you want to purchase and compare it carefully against the item offered at the sale price.
  • Before buying any item, always do a thorough inspection. Sometimes we get overly excited and forget to inspect for any damage. Remember that once you pay for the item, it is yours and there is usually no regress when you find the crack, chip, or broken part. Ask the salesperson to see the written warranty – reputable stores will have no problem with this.
  • Furniture is a big-ticket item and even on sale, you want to invest in well-made items that will last you over the years. Check the materials used in the construction of the piece. If particle board, softwoods, the wrong grade of synthetic rattan or improperly coated metals, the climate here will wreak havoc. Particle boards and softwoods are a favourite of termites. Low grades of synthetic rattan will dry and crack in direct sunlight. Metals, if not coated properly will rust from the ocean air.
  • If you are looking for any item that is true leather, stick with a brand name leather manufacturer that is known and trusted. Avoid tacto piel. This is not true leather. Should your item crack and peel due to it being tacto piel, it will generally happen between 3 and 9 months. Ask to see the written warranty. Most companies have a minimum of 1-year warranty so that your purchase is protected.
  • Some items are still better brought from home. A great example is decorator pillows. Even marked down during sales, they are often more expensive and with limited options than what can be purchased north of the border.
  • Check reviews. Google the products. Get feedback from friends and neighbours. Finding out what their experience was, their long-term satisfaction with their purchase and whether they would recommend the store to others are great ways to find out what your experience is likely to be.

Best advice – Don’t get caught up in the sale hype!

The best advice on any purchase is to avoid being impulsive. Remember that sales like El Buen Fin, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are meant to benefit the retailers with increased revenue. They are not meant to reward customers. There are good deals out there – just be cautious, take your time and remember that if it is on sale today, it will likely be on sale again next month!

(This post originally appeared in the Vallarta Tribune, November 21, 2017)