Sites like Groupon that offer daily discounted deals are on the rise. But with a number of complaints about misleading promotions, we check out how you can ensure you’re getting a good deal.
Thanks to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, TV adverts, and good old word of mouth, most of us are familiar with group buying sites such as Groupon, LivingSocial and KGB Deals, whether we’re signed up to them or not.
These group-buying websites offer daily discounted gift vouchers for a range of products and services, all local to you.
From cut-price meals in top restaurants, swanky spa deals at a discount, or half-price haircuts, these sites have tapped into our money-saving mindset in these straitened times.
But for all their successes, these sites have come in for some criticism too.
Last month, Groupon had a number of complaints about its adverts upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after banners on the site promised discounted flowers, meals and travel but did not actually allow items to be bought for prices advertised.
How group-buying sites work
- You sign-up with your email address. You’ll then receive details of the latest deals via email
- If you see a deal you like, buy the deal through the website before it ends or sells out. You pay by debit or credit card. As it’s a group buying site, every deal relies on a certain number of buyers for the deal to go ahead
- If successful, the voucher is emailed to you the next day and you’re good to go. Print it off, call the retailer to book, and present your gift voucher to the retailer when you go.
- Your voucher is valid for a set period, typically a few months, although this will vary between sites and deals.
Savings to be had
- There are savings to be had through such sites, most advertise savings of at least 70 per cent on their deals.
- Louisa Corbett, 28, a TV researcher who lives in Birmingham, says: “I got a great deal for a top spa for just over £50 for two people that would have cost about £250 full price so you can save a lot of money through these sites."
- A Groupon-user for the past year, Louisa uses the site to buy discounted treats such as spa days and beauty treatments that she couldn’t afford at full-price.
- She says the key to a successful consumer experience is that once you’ve got you're deal, call straightway to book your visit.
- “If you don’t do this, you could be in for a long wait or even have the business ring you up and tell you they can’t fit you in. This happened to me with a spa deal,” she says.
- “A few months after I booked my appointment they called me to try and cancel. They said they’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of custom they’d got as a result of the deal and that I needed to call Groupon to get my money back.
- "But I stood my ground and told them that having booked my appointment, it was their responsibility, not Groupon’s, to honour the deal. I won the argument.”
Don’t get burned buying a deal: Top tips for success
- Spotted a good deal? Factor in travel costs before you sign up. An out-of-town spa for example, might end up costing you more in travel to get there than the amount you’ve saved on the deal
- If you’re successful at getting a deal, once the voucher is emailed to you, call the business to book your appointment straight away or you might find yourself at the end of a very long queue. Groupon user Louisa says: “I got a deal for a holistic spa day in February. I called pretty much straightaway but they couldn’t fit me in till June due to the demand
- Once you’ve booked your deal, call a couple of weeks or days before your appointment to confirm it’s still going ahead.
- Make sure you use your voucher while it’s still valid. Most are only valid for a set period of time, normally a few months. This will help you avoid money down the drain, instead of the money-saving experience you’d planned