David Bakke writes about frugal living, smart shopping, and money management on the popular finance blog, Money Crashers.
Websites such as Groupon and LivingSocial are great places to find deep discounts on a wide variety of products and services. And while for the most part these deals are all valid, every once in a while when something seems too good to be true, it is. In today’s tough economic climate, it’s important to save wherever you can, but if you’re not armed with the right information, deal of the day websites can cost you money and create unneeded hassles.
1. Is it Really a Deal?
First, you should only purchase vouchers for products or services that you truly need. Getting 90% off on kickboxing classes is great, but if you’ve never had any interest in martial arts, you’re probably just wasting your money.
Second, don’t take the website’s word that the advertised price is an amazing discount. I recently came across a deal on Groupon for a personal photo scanner. The site claimed the retail price to be $150, and they were selling it for $40. The problem is, a quick Internet search showed these scanners were actually available for $50 via other retail outlets. So the 74% discount the site was claiming was really only around ten bucks.
2. Expiration Dates
Most daily deal coupons have expiration dates on them, so make sure you have a solid system in place to keep your vouchers organized and that you use them all before they expire. It is possible to get refunds through certain deal of the days websites, but often you’re going to get a credit for future purchases instead of cash back in your pocket.
3. Redemption Issues
If you come across a deal with a tight usage window, think twice about purchasing it. Some small businesses have no idea how many coupons are going to be purchased, and some simply can’t handle the unexpected volume. If there are no available appointment dates before your coupon expires, depending on what the fine print says, you could be out of luck.
4. Customer Service Issues
Since a large majority of the business that use these sites are just starting out and are using daily deal sites to promote their company, you’d think that staff members would welcome you with open arms. Not always so. In fact, in some instances you’re treated like a second-class citizen simply because you’re taking advantage of a deal. So, when you purchase that voucher, you may want to thicken up your skin a bit before using it.
5. Sketchy Product Descriptions
Some of the less reputable websites get a little too creative when listing product descriptions. Make sure you read the fine print on any product purchases to make sure the item you’re buying is “brand new.” Sometimes, you may find information buried explaining that it’s actually refurbished or re-manufactured. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with this type of merchandise, but it’s exactly what was advertised, and since it’s not brand new it likely comes with a limited manufacturer’s warranty.
Perhaps the best bit of advice for maximizing your deal of the day vouchers is to use them. Recent studies have found that 25% to 30% of daily deal coupons are never even redeemed. So, keep yours in a safe place, organize them by date, and use a system to note different account information for different websites so you take full advantage of your savings.
Have you had any experiences with deal of the day coupons?