Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Rough Guide to Group Coupons

When I'm in decadent mode, I like to up the ante so a post-Florida massage was definitely in order.

I broke out a Living Social voucher which had been tucked away. The first time I attempted to contact the therapist, she said that she didn't have any evenings available for a while. Since I was on vacation, I didn't need an evening time slot. Here's how the convo went:

Me: Yadda, yadda yadda...I thought I would try since I'm on vacation.

Therapist: I bet your vacation is now.
A brief aside: I don't like it when people make assumptions and I was trying to get an appointment with more than a week's notice and I didn't think that time frame was out of the realm of possibility.

Therapist as she's looking through calendar: I'm booked for April. I don't work very many evenings. I have children and obligations.

Me: Do you work on the weekends?

Therapist: I don't do very many weekends and, on Saturdays, I share the room with four other therapists blah blah blah...
She puts me on standby in case a weekend opens up.

I'm all kinds of annoyed because why would you do a group coupon with such limited availability knowing how some of those group coupons can explode. I decided not to get a Groupon for a recreation center because they sold over 1,000 and I wanted the pass for the pool and with only three laps lanes, I don't think I would have had much access.

At any rate, there's something to be learned from most encounters.

So, here are a few of 'Drea's tips (and I'm sure you've been waiting) for group coupons.

  • Read the details carefully. I picked up a Groupon for Kaldi's knowing that they have delicious baked falafel. In my haste to pick up the Groupon, I didn't realize that it was for one specific location, one that doesn't have baked falafel. I ended up giving the Groupon away.

  • Don't wait until the last moment to redeem your coupon. Give it away, trade it or sell it on Craigslist before you let it expire. And, on that note, keep track of expiration dates. I know that Groupon will email you when expiration dates near but others will not. There are some group coupons that are valid for six months and others for one year. It's not a bad idea to print the coupons so that you have a visual reminder. I like to keep mine in a folder in the order of expiration.

  • Get in there and join the discussion. My rock climbing gym was featured on Groupon. I wanted to get one since I heard that it would be good for the new gym that they are building. The Groupon needs to be redeemed by Oct. 18th. The new gym is supposed to be finished by then but stuff happens with construction so I wanted to know how that would affect the rules of engagement. I got my question answered and I purchased the Groupon. Ask your question early in the day so that the merchant has time to respond and know that some organizations won't respond at all.

  • If you're getting a group coupon for a massage, lots and lots of people tend to purchase these coupons. If it's for a chain massage place, there's no need to worry because they'll have plenty of therapists and flexibility with times but if it's an independent therapist, check to see if they have a website. Online booking is a bonus but not necessary. If they have a blog with their availability, that's cool too. If you can't get an idea of when the therapist works, proceed with caution because if, say, 600 people buy the deal and the therapist is only available on Monday and Tuesday in the morning, that may not work for you even with a year to use the coupon.

  • Don't be too impulsive. Group coupons, like anything else, can be addictive. I bought a Groupon for the movies but I seldom go to the movies and the day (close to expiration date of coupon) that I went every single movie was sold out and movies at other locations had already started.

  • Group coupons can make great gifts (pedicures, manicures, facials, spinning gyms). Just don't give a a chain massage one because the person that you gifted will be harassed at the end of their massage to join the gym chain -- the last kind of experience you want them to have after a massage.

  • Do your research. The group coupon might say that it's 51% off but companies have been know to tinker with the truth so check out the company's website. Likewise, see if there are any testimonials. In addition, check out the hours of operation and distance. Is it really a deal?

  • I've had very good experiences with group coupons and I've been introduced to businesses that I might not have ever gone to had it not been for Groupon, Living Social etc.

    What has been one of your best group coupon experiences?

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