In days of old - like 2009 -- the luxury of combining bulk purchases with other buyers was a privilege reserved for big businesses. In recent years, it’s become more common for local shops, spas and restaurants to offer large discounts if you’re willing to purchase a package or bring a group.
That’s where deal-of-the-day coupons come into the equation. Companies like Groupon or LivingSocial partner with local businesses to put together special offers daily. In order for the deal to become active, a set number of people must agree to purchase it. For example, a local Italian restaurant is offering a $20 voucher for only $10. Once 20 people commit to purchasing the $10 voucher, the deal is on for everyone. You benefit by saving money and the business benefits by drawing new customers.
While group buying can be a great way to save lots of money, not all deals are good ones. Here are a few things to consider when you’re looking for deals of the day.
1. Do You Really Need It?
We all love getting a great deal, but just because something is offered at a discounted price doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Because deals are offered every day, consider which ones would be most beneficial to your budget. It’s okay to splurge on something fun, but it doesn’t make sense to spend beyond your means just because you’re getting a good deal.
2. Do You Pay More?
Hidden expenses are everywhere. The same goes for group buying. While deals are attractive, many times the offers are designed just to get you in the door. In some cases, you might be able to find the services cheaper at another business.
Places like comedy clubs may have a good deal on admission, but most have a two drink minimum. This is where they make their money and, in some cases, you’ll pay more for one drink than you did for the entire price of admission!
3. Tipping Still Required
Even though you got a good deal, service staff still have to put in the same amount of work when you use your coupon. That’s why it’s important to tip based on the original price, not the discounted price.
Each deal comes with its own special set of rules and restrictions. Before you buy, check out these restrictions and make sure the coupon works for you. Nothing is worse than counting on a good deal only to find out it’s expired. Some restaurants limit coupon use to lunch or dinner. In other cases, the coupons are only good for certain items or at limited locations.
5. How Local?
Most group-buying sites focus on local deals. However, what their search engine considers “in your area” may be more than an hour away. The other day I noticed a really good deal for golf lessons. When I looked closer, the golf course was nearly 100 miles from my house. Even if I was willing to make the drive, the cost of gas made it not worth my while.
6. Check Reviews
If you’re not satisfied with your purchase, there’s little recourse for getting your money back. Poor service and poor quality can ruin any experience, no matter how much money you save. There’s no shortage of online reviews, so before you try something new, make sure it’s even worth it. There may be a reason a restaurant hasn’t been getting any business.
7. Shop Around
More and more group buying websites are popping up, giving the leaders like Groupon some competition. Some other places to check for group buying deals are 8Coupons, KGBDeals or CrowdSavings. Even Facebook is trying to get in on the action with their “Buy With Friends” feature, still under development.