Are group deal vouchers all they’re cracked up to be?
We do everything socially these days. The Internet has made it easier to share your life with others – and that includes your shopping habits. The rise of sites like Groupon and LivingSocial make it possible for you to enjoy great deals along with all of your friends.
But are these group deal vouchers all they’re cracked up to be?
Why are you buying the vouchers?
One of the first things you have to ask yourself is why you are buying any given voucher. When you see that your Facebook friend has just bought a voucher for 75% off on shoes, it looks like a great deal. But would you have bought those shoes anyway?
Examine your motives for using group deal vouchers. In a lot of cases, you’re just buying because the deal looks good – not because you actually need what you’re buying. In such cases, you aren’t truly saving money at all. Spending is spending, no matter the “bargain” you are getting. One of the biggest drawbacks to group deal vouchers is the fact that you are spending extra money that you had no intention of using on frivolities.
Do you know the terms?
Due to consumer outcries, there are some cases in which you can sell your unused vouchers back, but you need to make sure you understand the terms of the voucher. In some cases, the expiration date requires that you use your voucher quickly. Or, if the expiration date is too far in the future, you might forget to use the voucher altogether. Indeed, a large percentage of group deal vouchers expire unused. This compounds the issue of wasted money. Not only did you spend the money, but you also didn’t even receive the benefit of using your voucher.
Another concern is that the voucher might come with some other limitations. You might be required to make a minimum purchase, or some items might be excluded. You could easily purchase a group deal voucher for a specific store, only to find that the item you had planned on buying is excluded from the deal. Before you complete your purchase, you should read the fine print to ensure that you know exactly what to expect, how to redeem the voucher, and when it expires.
Using deal vouchers more effectively
If you plan to use deal vouchers to save money, you need to have a plan. First of all, only purchase items that you would have bought anyway. Even if the voucher is a great deal, avoid spending the money on it unless it is part of your overall spending plan. Limit your deal voucher purchases so that you are truly saving money, and not just spending money for the sake of getting a “deal.”
Next, double-check the terms and conditions. In the case of deal vouchers that can be sold back, you have a little more protection. If you can’t return the deal, though, be extra careful. Make sure that you will be able to use it within the allotted time period, and make sure you understand requirements and exclusions.
Finally, be aware that your activity might be posted on a social network. If you have connected your daily deal account to a Facebook or Twitter account, you might be sharing your purchase information with the public. If you like to keep your purchases private, be aware of what you need to do in order to keep your daily deals under wraps.
In Canada, gift certificates by law cannot expire. I suspect that daily deal vouchers may be the same, however honored for purchase price, not redemption price. Can anyone confirm?
Ramona, in the United States, this is exactly what GroupOn (probably one of the largest group buy sites) is being sued for. It seems that in response to this, most sites will now offer exactly what you mentioned – if your voucher expires, you can at least use the actual amount you paid for the voucher with the retailer).
I’ve created a note in my blackberry that reminds me of all my group buys I’ve participated in. I look at the list often (and set reminders in my calendar) so that I remember the vouchers’ date is coming up.
I love Group Buy’s but you have to be careful with them as well. Read all the terms and don’t forget to use them!
Thanks for addressing this issue Tom.
Do you have a link to this law in Canada?
Many spa gift certificates have expiry dates posted after 1 year.
Any idea how this impact airline credits?
Interesting. You presented a few angles I had not considered. Thanks.
Vouchers always make me feel like “it is too good to be true…” I am usually to hesitant to use any.