How to use Groupon and deal sites

Since Groupon and other similar deal sites were launched a couple of years ago, I’ve fortunately taken advantage of the great deals and managed to try products and services I probably wouldn’t have tried at full price. I have had amazing experiences through Groupon/Yelp deals/Living Social and so on, but I’ve also had a couple of negative experiences. So here are some of my personal “findings”:

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Screenshot from Groupon.com

With so many “deals” out there, how do you know if you’re signing up for something legit? Here are some quick tips.

  1. Check out their reviews on 3rd party sites
    Look up sites like Yelp.com or Google reviews, and be sure to check that the reviews are legit. As in, reviewers should have posted ample other reviews, not just have 1, 2 or a small handful of reviews: indicators of fake accounts being created to pimp this business. Google the business!
  2. Ask your friends
    In the age of social media, even if you can’t get substantial information about a certain business (which might be fairly new), it can be helpful to post on Facebook or Twitter, asking if your friends have had experience with XYZ company or product before you commit.
  3. Check out their actual pictures on their website and  review sites
    Are the pictures all “stock images” only? e.g.: for a spa, look for actual photos of the establishment, not just the generic images used by Groupon. Also look at pictures taken by actual customers, not just photos provided by the business. This gives you a better idea of what to expect.
  4. Call the business and try to get an appointment BEFORE printing your deal voucher
    Companies sometimes “oversell” the Groupon/deal, stretching themselves too thin that they cannot accommodate all buyers, and not even within the expiration timeframe of the deal.I once purchased a Groupon for an aesthetic service, called the company repeatedly, but only received an automated greeting saying please leave a message. I left a message but never heard back from them after 5 working days (2 weeks). I called again a week later, and the automated greeting was still in place. Needless to say, I asked Groupon for a refund.On a more positive note, during my recent Groupon IPL buy, I called the business and was immediately scheduled for an appointment that week, thus bolstering from confidence. I have since made a second appointment with no issue.
  5. If possible, check out the business in person
    In the case of the dodgy company mentioned above, it happened to be a mile or so from my home, and so, while waiting for them to call me back, I drove by to see if I could speak to someone in person. That’s when I realized it was a makeshift office with a new signboard put up, and everything was shuttered. Seems pretty shady to me!

Groupon / daily deals / cut-rate deals are great for consumers, but commonly not-so-great for businesses, which are essentially “paying” Groupon for the advertising. So, after buying a Groupon/deal, what should you do? Here’s what I suggest:

  • Always tip on the full amount
    So you got an amazing massage for just $30 instead of $90. Well, don’t tip your masseuse off the $30 value, tip on the $90 value. Be fair to the people who are working hard for their money.
  • Write a review for the business
    Enjoyed the service/product? Be sure to let the world know. And well, if you weren’t completely enamored, be objective and rational in your review too, so others can benefit from your experience, however lackluster it might be.
  • Communicate your pleasure/displeasure directly to the business
    Consumer feedback is much-prized for businesses, so besides posting your views in the public domain, you might want to express your appreciation to a store/business/service personnel for outstanding service, or, on the flip side, if you were disappointed by your experience, letting the business know could a) help them make it up to you in some way; b) help them improve.
  • Become a full-price-paying customer
    Some people hop from establishment to establishment, following these daily deals. True, it’s a great way to discover new products and businesses, but if you find a place you really enjoy, do support the business by returning to them, and/or refer others to them. It keeps good businesses thriving, allowing them to do good in their industry, keeps competent people employed, and keeps them available for other consumers.

And those are my personal tips for using Groupon and other daily deal sites. Do you have any tips to share?

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