Saving

Where to Resell Your Unused Groupons: The Secondary Market Is Only Getting Started

(photo: Groupon)

Ever buy a Groupon or other daily deal voucher you never used?  You have several options: write off the money you spent as a loss, try to sell the coupon on eBay or Craigslist, or take a more targetted approach, thanks to a handful of websites that have recently sprung up to act as a secondary market for those vouchers.

Some charge fees sell your coupons, while others act as free services similar to Craigslist. In many cases you can end up getting face value for your voucher – it would be as if you never bought it in the first place.

 “A lot of times people miss out on a deal or bought something they didn’t use,” so creating a secondary market made sense, says Yael Gavish, the chief executive officer of San Francisco, Calif.-based Lifesta.

Lifesta, which launched in July, charges sellers $0.99 and 8% of the sale price on any voucher that gets sold. The process is simple: You upload your coupon and Lifesta sells it for you. You get paid through Amazon Payments, a service similar to PayPal.  The money is deposited into your Amazon account as soon as Lifesta is paid. You can then either get the money transferred to your banking account or use it toward Amazon.com purchases.

Lifesta doesn’t impose any restrictions on how you price the voucher, but Gavish says that most sellers post the amount they paid for it, or less if it’s about to expire.

Buyers on Lifesta are also protected. The company offers a sixty-day money back guarantee in case the voucher is fake or has already been used. (It is largely thanks to that guarantee, Gavish says, that Lifesta resells a lot of pricey deals, like sky diving coupons and expensive hair treatments.)

So far, tens of thousands of dollars worth of deals have been uploaded to and sold on Lifesta. The website operates nationwide.

Pay for protection

Chicago, Ill.-based DealsGoRound started out as a free service similar Craigslist, simply connecting buyers and sellers online, but leaving them to make all arrangements of the actual sale. Recently, the website switched to a model in which it facilitates the sale. 

“You see something on the site, you buy it and get the email certificate in seconds,” says Kris Petersen, the founder and chief executive officer of DealsGoRound. “There’s no real communications between the buyer and the seller. Once you post you don’t even know who buys it.”

DealsGoRound, which uses PayPal to pay sellers, takes a 10% commission from each sale and has a sixty-day refund policy, but Peterson says in the ten months it has acted as a reseller it has not had even one problem with a voucher. The company has more than 1,000 users and is available nationwide. According to Petersen, vouchers are posted from about 50 different daily deal websites.

While the resellers don’t need the permission of the daily deal websites to resell the vouchers, Petersen says he did contact them when he first launched the service in response to being stuck with unused vouchers for a Segway tour. The result: nothing.

“The most common response was no response,” says Petersen. “The smaller daily deal websites were excited about it.”

CoupRecoup lets you sell for free

CoupRecoup, out of San Francisco, Calif., doesn’t charge users a fee to sell their vouchers, but it also doesn’t provide a money back guarantee or get involved in the sale process at all. Katherine Woo, co-founder of CoupRecoup, says the website was started after she tried to sell a daily deal on Craigslist and got no response. 

Unlike the other websites in that space, CoupRecoup doesn’t generate profits. “It’s a public service,” says Woo. “It’s free.” Sellers list their vouchers and then make their own arrangements to meet an interested buyer and complete the transaction. You can set your own price, but there is also an option to accept the best offer.

CoupRecoup is currently available in 62 cities and will add additional ones if there is demand. Woo says the company doesn’t charge money because users haven’t been clamoring for buyer protection. “It’s a pretty low-key model that’s working well,” she says.