Dec 28, 2011

What’s the deal with daily deals websites?

Van Amstel Diamant name necklace

{ Gummy bear ring* / Dermalogica candle / MAC lipstick / Name necklace from Van Amstel Diamant via Groupon*

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Groupon, who sent me a £20 voucher asking me to buy one of their offers then write about my experience of using their site.

These daily deals websites seem to be multiplying on a weekly basis and I have used a couple of them previously, finding them to be hit-and-miss. For example, I just bought a voucher for a facial and hour-long massage from one website for £19 and while it’s obviously a fantastic deal I found it really hard to book an appointment as they’re pretty much fully booked for the voucher’s 3 month validity period (I’ve had to lump for a Tuesday afternoon or lose my money). I have used Groupon before, purchasing a deal for a garra rufa (fish) pedicure which took place at Whiteley’s shopping centre and operated a drop-in policy so it was easy and enjoyable.

After considering a few deals I decided to go for a personalised sterling silver name necklace (which I’ve wanted ever since I started watching Sex And The City!), in a deal run with a Dutch company called Van Amstel Diamant. So what do I think?

Pros

The deal cost £19.99 and the necklace is apparently worth £50 (p+p was included) so a 60% discount is a good saving. I received my deal voucher quickly and found it easy to place my order online using it – much easier than trying to redeem one over the phone. I really like my necklace, although to be fussy a choice of fonts would have been nice.

Cons

From purchasing the Groupon voucher to receiving my necklace took over a month. I appreciate that a personalised item takes time to make, and that lots of people buy these deals so there will be a backlog of orders, but I just thought that was an awfully long time (especially when the site had stated I would receive it within 28 days).

Whilst not directly related to this experience I do feel the need to mention a major customer service problem. Several months ago, a friend purchased a voucher for a teeth whitening treatment. They had to wait weeks for an appointment then when they turned up at the dental surgery it was closed for a training day (no phone call, nothing). Ever since then my friend has been passed between Groupon and this company with no one willing to offer a refund – and this deal costs almost £90!

So would I do it again?

The savings are good, the variety of offers is enormous, and lots of the deals make good gifts so I will use Groupon again – just not for anything expensive (I’m too fearful after what’s happened to my friend).

Tips for shopping daily deals websites

- Use Google to look up the company that the offer is for. See what other consumers thought of it – a bargain is sometimes cheap for a reason!

- Shop around. Don’t necessarily assume it’s actually the best price.

- Don’t panic buy. Deals may only be available for a limited time but if you miss one a similar one will always crop up soon. Sometimes the same deal even comes back!

- Check the T&Cs!

Browse offers and sign up to receive Groupon emails.

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