How To

Are Groupons Really a Great Deal?

Group buying websites like Groupon, LivingSocial and Tippr are all the rage these days — but how do you know if you’re really getting a good deal?

The short answer: you don’t. That $20 voucher for the Erotic Exotic Expo in Richmond, Calif., might have sounded like an amazing deal at the time (50% off!), but if you end up not going, you’ve simply ended up $20 poorer–not to mention non the wiser on matters erotic and exotic.

There are, of course, amazing deals to be had with group-buying sites — if you know what to watch out for. And this is something you can take away from “Bargain Babe” Julia Scott’s video for WalletPop, featured above and on WalletPop.com.

One of the main things to look for, Scott says, is the coupon’s expiration date: some of these expire in as little as three months. (Or, as in the example above, are for one-time events.)

Also, the coupons are typically from businesses you’ve likely never used. Not that this is a bad thing, many small businesses use these sites as a way to spread the word out and build up a clientele. But you may end up paying for dinner or a massage at an establishment that doesn’t match up with your taste.

We’ll add one more word of caution: if the business in question is small (read: it doesn’t have the capacity to serve all those customers who bought coupons within the specified time frame) you may end up simply unable to book and use your voucher. Or you’ll have to schedule a massage three months ahead, without knowing that by that time you will have actually moved across the country. (True story!)

That said, the fine print on these deals is usually quite clear — be sure to read and understand it, and you’re good to go! And if you do end up unable to use your coupon due to unplanned-for circumstances, don’t hesitate to reach out to the vendor. As mentioned above, those are often small business looking for clientele and will likely at least do their best to accomodate your request.

As for tracking all of those deals and a suggestion for reselling your unused coupons (or buying ones for deals you’ve missed) — there are websites for that. Scott gives you the details in the video above, or on WalletPop.com.

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