10 Reasons Why I Completely Stopped Buying “Group Deals”


Shop­ping Street in Lon­don, U.K., August 2012

I dis­cov­ered “group deals” in 2010 and imme­di­ately sub­scribed to a few pop­u­lar web­sites, such as Groupon, Liv­ing­So­cial and Team­Buy. Soon, there were so many group deal web­sites that I resorted to an aggre­ga­tor that deliv­ered the best deals directly to my mailbox.

In spring 2011, I was won­der­ing whether group coupons were a bit­ter or sweet deal.

And here we are in 2013: I com­pletely stopped buy­ing group deals. I guess I answered my own ques­tion… and here is the ratio­nale behind my decision.

There are no more local offers — Most of these group coupon web­sites started by adver­tis­ing local deals and busi­nesses. For instance, you could buy dis­count tick­ets for a pop­u­lar local attrac­tion, test a new restau­rant in the neigh­bor­hood or try a new hair salon. These days, most deals in Ottawa seem to be for generic products—accessories, jew­ellery, etc.—from for­eign man­u­fac­tur­ers. Why would I want to buy generic made in China crap I can get anywhere?

The value of the deal can be grossly over­es­ti­mated — Group deals are sup­posed to offer buy­ers a sub­stan­tial dis­count on prod­ucts or ser­vices, but it’s just too easy to over­es­ti­mated their value in the first place. I mean, I have seen hair­cut pack­ages “val­ued” at $700. Yeah, right. I value this arti­cle at 2 mil­lion dol­lars, doesn’t mean it is worth that much (I’d take a million!).

Most of the offers are scammy — I’m tired of see­ing offers from unknown web­sites such as buymyproduct.ca (yes, I made that up) that may or may not be reli­able. But over­all, I’m tired of see­ing deals for teeth whiten­ing treat­ments, weight-loss pro­grams or Power­Bal­ance wrist­bands (yes, the prod­uct is a scam—shock­ing, I know).

Reviews are hard to come by — A lot of local busi­nesses offer­ing deals are new or not that pop­u­lar (which is usu­ally why they adver­tise on group deals in the first place), and it’s hard to find reviews on them, includ­ing on Yelp or Google Review. As a cus­tomer, you are tak­ing a risk.

It’s always the same (ter­ri­ble) busi­nesses sell­ing group deals — And that brings me to this impor­tant point: it seems that some busi­nesses (typ­i­cally hair­cut or tan­ning salons in Ottawa) are con­stantly run­ning deals with var­i­ous web­sites. That makes me very sus­pi­cious because group deals are sup­posed to be a one-time thing—not a busi­ness plan con­sid­er­ing the profit mar­gin after the deal is sup­pos­edly very low. So either the prod­uct or ser­vice is over­val­ued in the first place, either the busi­ness is try­ing to get cash quick to stay afloat.

Busi­nesses don’t always honor the deal — See point above! Some busi­nesses go bank­rupt because they sold too many deals on too many web­sites and can’t hon­our them, some were never to hon­our the deal and were just look­ing for quick cash. In Ottawa, the story of Aubrey’s Meats is sadly famous: they sold thou­sands of coupons and never hon­oured them.

I received sub-par ser­vices — The deals I was mostly look­ing for back when I was brows­ing the offers daily were typ­i­cally spa ser­vices, such as mas­sages and pedi­cures. I like being pam­pered and deals were a way for me to dis­cover new places and to try new ser­vices at an afford­able price. I had a great expe­ri­ence with my first Groupon, at Elgin Mas­sage Ther­apy Clinic (I am still a cus­tomer two years later!). But I often received sub-par ser­vice just because I was using a coupon. Spas that I would never go back to include New-U Body Bar, Essence Mas­sage & Spa and Peveecka Spa: ser­vice was poor, the own­ers com­plained that they were los­ing money with the deal (not my fault!) and rushed me in and out. Meh. Not impressed.

Sched­ul­ing appoint­ments is hell — Because so many peo­ple buy deals, sched­ul­ing an appoint­ment can be a real headache. I had to wait months to get an avail­able slot in some cases, which is kind of annoying.

Busi­nesses try to upsale — When busi­nesses feel they are los­ing money with the deal, they try to upsale. I get it, it’s part of the game, but some places (includ­ingNew-U Body Bar) were very pushy. Some busi­nesses just make up new terms and con­di­tions as well, i.e. no appoint­ment between what­ever time and what­ever time, which is annoying.

Deal web­sites have ter­ri­ble cus­tomer ser­vice — Finally, I do not trust deal web­sites any­more after an issue I had with Team­Buy and their deal for a mas­sage at Glebe Fit­ness. The first appoint­ment I made in was can­celled, and so was the sec­ond one. Both times, I only learned about the can­cel­la­tion at the last minute, upon arriv­ing. Sched­ul­ing a third appoint­ment was impos­si­ble: the place was booked solid until Decem­ber 2012. Frankly, I doubt the busi­ness wanted to hon­our the voucher. I emailed Team­Buy and explained the sit­u­a­tion. Three emails and sev­eral weeks later, I finally received a very curt email, in which Team­Buy offered me credit towards a future deal. Con­sid­er­ing how slow their reply was, and how bad the atti­tude was, I declined and asked for a refund—I don’t want to use their ser­vice ever again. Team­Buy never emailed back. I even­tu­ally resorted to doing a charge­back and my bank refunded me the money (good job CIBC!).

How about you? Still buy­ing group deals? Did you have any issue with them?


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Pingback: 10 Awesome Nonfiction Books You Should Add To Your Reading List | Correr Es Mi Destino

Leave A Reply

Enjoying this blog? Please spread the word :)