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Buyer Beware of Couponing Sites

Is Groupon a Scam | Social Media BlogDon’t get me wrong, I’m not scoffing couponing sites such as Groupon, SwarmJam and DealFind to the extend of banning them in my life. I’ve gotten excited when I see a manicure-pedicure combo for $25 or a $50 worth of food at a local restaurant for $25. I am however acknowledging that a dark underbelly exists both for consumer (and the proprietor for that matter) and the proprietor, most of which may not be evident from the get-go.

Consumers beware: watch for the regular prices that make the claims of 50 to $80-ish percent off. Those prices are often inflated. For example, upon closer inspection, my regularly priced $90 haircut, equaled $60 worth. The moral of the story here is to check if the regular price seems reasonable given the offer and/or to judge the merits of the deal base on the actual product or service price instead of amount saved. Rebel against this marketing ploy.

Alright, moving on – the devil is in the details. Read the details for an exact description of what your getting, but remember that not all information may be included and that the headings and subheads may be misleading. Where does this leave you? If you are not sure the exact nature of what you’re getting, inquire with the company offering the the product or service before buying in. For example, maybe that deal for full cleaning of your house only includes a light cleaning, such as counters and carpets or maybe that fully-customized umbrella offer, only lets you only choose from 7 different pre-made, out-dated, umbrellas. You’ve been duped!

Oh, and a precautionary note on that great deal for your massage service – if 867 people have purchased this deal, it may be months before you’re actually able to use the coupon, which increases the likelihood that it will not get used. Try being one of the first people to call to book the appointments as soon as the coupon becomes usable.

Check the expiry dates of the coupons. A coupon with an expiring date of a month may not jive with your busy schedule, resulting in not re-deeming your coupon on time.

Prepare to be given second-class service. Maybe your server has dealt with one too many restaurateurs that have tipped on the sale price, not the original price (bonus tip: factor the tip on the original price into the deal you’re getting) or maybe a proprietor has realized that they are actually losing money from their Groupon promotion. These facts might lead to resentment and to subsequent sub-par service.

Certain mentalities surrounding couponing sites can act as fodder that gets you one step closer to falling squarely into the addiction category. The I’ll-only-go-for-the-very-best-deals mentality can get you into a whole heap of trouble as can the if-the-product-or-service-is-close-by, I will buy in. There are always going to be what come across as being good deals or products and as these sites grow in popularity there are increasingly ample availability of coupons in your area. Instead, try limiting yourself to a fixed number of coupons at a time – for some people that number will be 5, for others it will be 20. The point is to have a cap that is reasonable for you.

It’s a wild world of daily deals out there. These tips should help you benefit the most out of your couponing deals du jour. Happy hunting!

Photo credit: Todd Barnard

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