Some people check Groupon more often than they read the news or the weather report. The moment they get up, they need to know what the deal of the day is. They then spam their friends with alerts about the latest and greatest coupons. I know, because I used to be one of those people.
However, despite the promises of fantastic deals, deals websites have actually caused me to waste a lot of money. If you’re a bargain hunter who refuses to step into a restaurant unless you’ve got a Groupon deal in hand, here are 5 money-wasters to look out for.
Your coupon expires before you can use it
It’s all too easy to buy a stack of Groupon vouchers, only to shove them in a drawer and forget about them. Six months later, you discover the pile of expired coupons and mourn. If you’re the sort of person who buys multiple coupons, put them in plain sight by pinning them up on your cubicle walls at work and marking the dates clearly on top.
You buy something you wouldn’t have bought otherwise
Under normal circumstances, you would never have bought that Hello Kitty cookware set. But the Groupon deal got you a 90% discount, and you couldn’t give up the chance to save so much money. So now you are stuck with a set of Hello Kitty cookware, which in our opinion serves as a prime example of the dangers of Groupon.
The experience or product you buy sucks
You thought you were purchasing an authentic Calvin Klein handbag, only to discover that the label read Galvin Klen. After cursing your mobile phone screen for displaying text in such tiny sizes, you join the ranks of disappointed coupon purchasers.
From dejected diners who discovered that the restaurant meal they purchased was more substandard than scrumptious to the holidaymakers who realised they could only go on their romantic vacation on Tuesdays, Groupon customers often learn that they can’t always trust the pretty photos.
The merchant makes it difficult to use your coupon
There’s nothing more frustrating than to book a manicure or massage, only to discover that the company refuses to let you use your coupon on weekends or after 5pm. The same goes for diners who show up at the restaurant only to be told the remaining seats are open only to non coupon-using customers.
Other than the snazzy copywriting, make sure you read the more boring fine print as well, as businesses often bar Groupon customers from using their coupons on weekends, public holidays or peak hours.
The deal isn’t actually one
If you believe everything you read on Groupon, you’ll be left with the impression that you can save hundreds of dollars on a lavish vacation, or that that useless contraption you just bought actually costs twenty times the amount in shops. While smart Groupon use can indeed save you some money, don’t believe everything you see, as some of the purported savings splashed across the page are quite shamelessly inflated.
I once turned up thinking I’d be enjoying a restaurant meal that was purportedly $129, only to realise upon arrival that I’d been deceived, as that supposed set meal did not even exist on the menu and besides, based on the quality of the food there was no way any sane customer would have paid that price. In addition, the restaurant proceeded to charge me GST and service charge—on the sum of $129. Ouch.
Difficulty of getting refunds
Many customers who’ve been scammed by an errant merchant or been the victim of glitches in the system and then tried to get a refund from deals sites have complained about how difficult it is to claw your money back. The Internet is rife with horror stories from people who’ve received empty promises of refunds or been made to contact multiple parties in order to get their money back. Think long and hard before you make a purchase, because things might just get ugly if you change your mind.
What have your experiences with deal sites been? Share them with us in the comments!