Mystery Shopper: How easy was it to buy a cheap SSD on Black Friday 2015?

Who won the battle of Black Friday in the run up to Christmas? PCR’s Mystery Shopper scoured the internet for the cheapest 240GB solid state drive on Black Friday, to see which etailer had the best prices, delivery options and website that could cope with serious consumer demand.

Our Mystery Shopper typed ‘SSD’ into Google and picked the first six UK etailers that sprung up…

Scrolling down Scan’s homepage, I was pleased to see a multitude of deals right there, without having to click on another separate Black Friday section.

However, the only SSD featured on the homepage was the SanDisk Ultra II 480GB priced at £79.98, so I looked elsewhere for 240GB variants.

The ‘Featured Deals’ section at the top of the homepage only contained a list of vendors, so I clicked ‘Special Offers’ to see where that would take me. I found myself scrolling through vendor products here anyway, which wasn’t much help, so I clicked the ‘Hard Drives – SSD’ link at the top instead, followed by the ‘Sale’ link.

There, after searching from lowest to highest priced products, I found a SanDisk SSD Plus 240GB 2.5-inch SATA 3 SSD for £56.69. However, after putting it in my basket, a £4.57 carriage charge had brought the overall price up to £62.17.

There was a nice-looking virtual ‘Black Friday Deals’ shopping tag on the Novatech homepage, but disappointingly, clicking it did nothing at all.

There was a ’10 per cent off gaming PCs and laptops’ headline on the left, with three subtle tabs below it. The bottom one read ‘PC components’, but it didn’t jump out at me, and annoyingly, as I was about to click it, the carousel changed to a different offer. I refreshed the homepage, entered the components deals page, and was impressed with the layout. There wasn’t too much on screen and the images were just the right size. A few SSD and motherboard bundles were available, including a Gigabyte motherboard and SanDisk 480GB SSD for £174.98.

I scrolled down and noticed a Kingston HyperX Fury Series 2.5-inch 240GB SATA 6GB/s Internal Solid State Drive for £54.98. There was a free three to four day delivery option on this too.

Dabs also had a selection of Black Friday deals on its homepage, but as there was only a 120GB SSD featured there, I headed to the ‘more deals’ tab in search of some bigger drives.

Scrolling down to the components section, I didn’t spot any 240GB SSDs, but I soon realised that there was another storage area below it. After scanning through?the products listed here, I?saw a Kingston 240GB HyperX Fury SATA 6GB/s 2.5-inch 7mm SSD (with a 9mm adaptor) for £54.98, down from £72.99. It also came with free delivery.

Unfortunately, that was the only 240GB SSD in Dabs’ Black Friday deals. I clicked the ‘components and storage – SSD’ link at the top in search of more, and stumbled upon the Toshiba Q300 240GB SSD for £56.98, but couldn’t find any cheaper 240GB SSDs on the website.

POOR OLD Overclockers. Having not long relaunched its website with a fantastic- looking layout and cleaner navigation, Black Friday 2016 was not the system builder’s finest hour.

I tried to access the website around 3pm, but was met by an empty website with a ‘503 Service Unavailable’ message.

I waited 20 minutes and tried again. I was now able to click the ‘Business’ link at the top-left, which luckily loaded. I rushed into the ‘PC components – SSD’ section and saw two 240GB SSDs at £59.99 each: the Kingston SSDNow V300 Drive and the Crucial BX200 SATA SSD.

I clicked the ‘offers’ link at the top-left and found the Samsung 250GB 850 EVO SSD for £62.99. I popped it in my basket and clicked ‘proceed’, but unfortunately, I was met with a white screen and another ‘503’ error.

While I learnt that the site was working at other times, it was disappointing to see it down in the afternoon. The site did partially load at least, but as I was unable to explore any of the deals.

I was greeted by a big Black Friday banner on the Ebuyer website, but as I couldn’t see an SSD on the homepage, I clicked ‘view our top picks’ within the banner.

Lo and behold, the product right at the top of the next page was an SSD – an OCZ Trion 100 240GB SATAIII 2.5- inch SSD to be precise. And it had 40 per cent off, bringing the price down to £39.99; what a result.

Ebuyer even had a cheeky ‘Dabs price: £61.63’ within the product box, comparing its prices with its competitors. I clicked through to the product page to find it in stock and available with £6.98 next working day delivery for Monday November 30th. I also had the option for free Super Saver delivery, with the product being delivered within five working days.

Being nosey, I clicked on the ‘Storage – SSDs’ link at the top of the page to look for other bargains. The second cheapest 240GB SSD I could find was a Sandisk Plus SSD for £59.99.

The Amazon homepage had not one, but two ‘Black Friday Deals Week’ banners at the top of the site, which I found a little confusing.

Which should I click? At first glance both banners looked similar, but after a few moments I realised Amazon was promoting its own products in the top banner.

I clicked the second banner but this also took me to a page featuring Amazon’s own products at the top, with ‘Lightning deals’ and ‘Deals ending soon’ sections below them. I searched here, but couldn’t see any SSDs. I soon gave up searching within this section and attempted to find an SSD using the ‘Shop by department – Electronics and computers – Computer components’ links.

I found the SSD section and scanned through to find a 240GB device. The Samsung 250GB 850 EVO jumped out at me with a £59.90 price tag. Searching for the lowest price, I spotted the same 240GB SanDisk SSD Plus from the Ebuyer website, but this one had a lower £39.99 price tag.

My hunt for a cheap solid state drive went very well, considering the tendency for big etail sites to crash during the Black Friday sales period.

Tech etail held out a bit better in November 2015. In the year prior, several sites experienced serious crashes due to high volumes of web traffic, while in 2015 Argos and Tesco saw their sites go offline for only a short while, with Overclockers’ site collapsing in the afternoon.

It was a real shame to see Overclockers offline, as the site is very well structured and packed full of products.

In terms of the SSDs themselves, it was nice to see 240GB variants priced from £40 to £60, down from £80?or so. Novatech and Dabs’ best deal was the Kingston 240GB HyperX Fury SATA, priced at £54.98 on both sites, while Scan had a SanDisk SSD Plus 240GB unit for £56.69, but delivery pushed this above £60.

While both Amazon and Ebuyer had 240GB SSDs at the lowest price point I could find (£39.99), Ebuyer was our star site thanks to its clearer design and better overall?user experience.

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