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'Bought a spa day from Groupon or others? Did you get it?' blog discussion

edited 29 July 2011 at 5:16PM in Martin's blogs & appearances & MoneySavingExpert in the news
67 replies 21.5K views
This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.

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  • SybersalSybersal Forumite
    28 Posts
    I purchased a laser hair removal deal last November with Groupon, it was about £120 for 7 sessions of a large, medium and a small area.
    I was lucky I have just had my last treatment - however this deal sold over 1500 in the few hours it was available - it was one shop in West London.
    The staff basically have had to stop doing all the other treatments to fulfill this - then another deal went out with the same salon a couple of months later!!! I did not dare cancel or change my appointment as I couldn't.
    There was a high turn over of staff, and to be honest I don't think they did a particularly good job, I always felt I was being rushed.

    I think the concept is good - I just do agree definately with Martin the companies need to be able to fulfill the deal in a reasonable amount of time, and to a high standard. Surely the idea is to get the company publicity as well - I would never go back to that salon!
    My sister has had a similar problem with a deal for the same thing with a different salon!

    I also felt the staff were being compromised - they never wore safety glasses - (apart from my last treatment when I had a 'new girl' who also told me from my records that the machine had been on a really low setting for all my previous treatments!).

    I definately am skeptical now when I see these deals.
    There is also a similar concept with shopping and buying items - you register and they have 'deals' but in my experience after you have paid and they have your money you get told expected dispatch dates (about 2-3 weeks ahead) then you get an email saying they have problems fulfilling the order......
  • edited 26 July 2011 at 3:23PM
    karlie88karlie88 Forumite
    9.1K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper
    edited 26 July 2011 at 3:23PM
    So far, all the deals that I have bought have gone smoothly. Personally, I think it is a great idea and I have bought many restaurant deals in the past.

    However, I have come across many stories where the deal has not gone quite to plan. In most of these cases, popularity of the deal has been the problem. I think there needs to be clear communication between the business (especially small businesses) and the group buying website, especially with regards to the number of deals being purchased.

    I agree with your 'code of conduct' points. I think the idea of capping deals is one of the most important points you raised. Sadly, I don't think many of these websites would adhere to this point. They would much rather make £5 per deal on 3000 sales than £5 per deal on 200 sales. After the deal has finished, they'll move on to their next offer. I don't think the likes of Groupon, KGB, Crowdity etc. care whether customers are having problems when trying to redeem their voucher.

    My advice? Be careful when buying these deals, but there are some great bargains to be had!

    Always go on the business' website and look at their prices. You may notice that the RRP on the group buying website is overinflated and that there are special offers. This gives you a false indication of how much you're saving.

    If it's a small business in your local area, then buy the deal later in the evening (if you can). I've come across this many times. For example, I see a deal in the morning that I want to purchase (let's say a meal for 2 at a restaurant). I notice that there's only 2 months to redeem it and that the voucher is not valid on Friday and Saturday evenings. I've noticed that 200+ deals have already been bought. Therefore, I wait 'til the evening. I log on at 9pm to see that 3000+ deals have been purchased! How on earth will 3000+ deals be redeemed within 50 days or so? i.e. 6000+ people in a small restaurant? And don't forget the ordinary customers! In the end, for obvious reasons, I will pass on this particular deal and wait for one that can logistically be redeemed.

    I also read an interesting post by a small business on the grabbit thread recently who took part in a KGB deal. This is an example of how a deal can go wrong. It also gives an interesting insight into the operations of a group buying website. Here's the post:

    EDIT: Just remembered another piece of advice. I may get shot down for this, but I'll say it anyway.

    The way I understand, is that the majority of these deals get split 50/50 between the group buying website and the business. If there's a deal you're interested in and it's a small, local business, then it may be worth ringing them up on the day of the deal, as you may be able to get a better price. If the likes of Groupon are offering a £30 deal, £15 will go to Groupon and £15 will to go the business. When I enquired about a deal once, I was offered the very same deal for £20. I saved a tenner and the business gained a fiver (plus they didn't have to wait several weeks for the money from Groupon).
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  • I used to buy a lot from Groupon (at least once a month). I'd spend a long time scrutinising the terms & conditions every day to see whether I could fit it into my schedule, whether it was valid at weekends, whether I needed it etc etc. However, I haven't seen a good deal for months! Seems like there's so much competition now, and companies have gotten wise to the pitfalls so they're not bothering.

    Best deal I ever had was a Saks in Manchester spa day for £100 RRP £300. Took my Mum and we had a wonderful time. I had to take a day off work because the weekends booked up quickly - but I wasn't bothered about that and half expected it.

    Other great deals were an assault course - booked in for me & partner no problems. This is the best type of deal - things you'd never normally do!
    Hair cut and manicure - lovely experience - but I'd never be able to afford to go back & I'd rather get my hair done at the same place every time.
    Meal at posh restaurant in Manchester I didn't know existed - had to go midweek. Said on voucher limited Friday nights so expected this. However, saw lots of customer complaints on Facebook about this. Unfair as it did state it on the advert!
    Afternoon Tea at Tom's Champange Bar - this was a disappointment. Felt that the deal wasn't as good as stated as the menu price was cheaper than it said on the voucher. Also was supposed to get an invite to a tasting night that didn't show up. However, I didn't bother to complain as still had a lovely time with my Mum.

    Lastly = indoor skydiving. Voucher went on sale just before Christmas - they sold thousands, probably as xmas gifts. The voucher expired before the end of January. So everyone who was given the voucher for Christmas had a month to book in and go. Instant chaos! This was a prime example where the space should have been limited - but Airkix & Groupon could argue that the voucher could have been used throughout December but was chosen not to. And how long is "reasonable" to book in? If I tried to get a slot 2 weeks before, is that reasonable? How about if I was only willing to go on a Saturday afternoon? What if there is availability - at 9am on a wed, is it my fault I don't want to take a day off work??

    These sites are great in principal - but the companies involved need to think about how much demand they can cope with, and whether or not they can fit people in at the weekends...
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  • robwinrobwin Forumite
    22 Posts
    Martin, i negotiated a deal with Groupon for my former employer. Groupon only pay the business's cut of the voucher value (usually 50% less VAT) when the customer redeems the voucher. So if customers dont redeem Groupon keeps the full value. The Groupon operative I dealt with told me "to be honest, that's how we make our money"! So I think it is quite deliberate. Other deal sites (e.g. Living Social) do it differently as I understand, but the whole thing is pretty cynical
  • Hi,
    I ordered three gift vouchers for Soto UK (£10 each for a £30 face value) in October 2010. I had checked the prices on the Soto website and was happy with it.
    I ordered in November (3 orders with free delivery- Christmas presents) and had to pay a bit of extra money for the items I wanted as my orders were slightly above the voucher value..
    Well, my orders in my Soto account are still showing as 'awaiting picking'. I have called Soto's office so many times I have lost count.
    The vouchers have been redeemed and the extra money taken from my bank account but no goods.
    I have also complained to KGB deals and even contacted Trading Standards. Soto Uk have simply ignored me- even though I sent them a formal letter by recorded delivery in June.
    I have used Groupon for a Body Shop offer that proved to be a great buy.
    I think as far as those deals are concerned, it's best to stick with reputable companies which are more likely to honour the deals.
    I remember reading in a newspaper article last December that the likes of KGB and Groupon were making their profits by counting on customers not redeeming deals...
  • pinkjetspinkjets Forumite
    23 Posts

    I bought three vouchers from Groupon for a local holiday rental company. Two as gifts and one for my own family. The deal was for a discounted price for two nights on a choice of several cottages and each voucher cost about£100. When we tried to book we were told that all cottages were fully booked for six months-the middle of the winter was when they were next free-we had purchased the vouchers in April. The company told us that they had authorised Groupon to sell approx 200 deals but Groupon had in fact sold almost 800!!!
    We were very disappointed as we were looking forward to our break with our three kids. We can understand the company are overrun with the deals they are trying to accommodate and also the money they are losing in the process by trying to honour the new clients. I have since been told by someone in the industry that althoub Groupon say they will put a 'cap' on the amount of deals sold, they actually in practice do not as they earn their money every time they sell a deal. They even hold all the payments until it is redeemed by themcustomer so the small business does not even receive our payment immediately. I have friends who have had similar experiences and I will not be using Groupon again.
  • Hi, i purchased a voucher (£49.00) in december 2010 for my daughter in laws birthday in feb 2011, before i purchased i phoned the company to see if approx a month from feb was enough time to book in, they said weekends or weekdays would be fine, so i booked it. My son tried to book up on numerous occasions and was told we are full up, then they told him that when they tried to book in advance that the voucher had run out, they unfortunately did not tell me this.. so when i asked if they enjoyed the day my son told me. I wrote to the company, and they said that they could have extended the deal for an extra £30! which they could not afford to do, & they didn't want to ask me. So no refund nothing.
  • Groupon were very quick to refund my voucher for a spa deal where I could not get an answer by telephone and the website was inactive. Groupon seemed genuinely not aware before my call that there was an issue, so it is possible the spa had only recently had issues - it was near the end of the voucher validity.
    I certainly think there should be regulations, especailly about capping, and availablity, but it is unrealistic to imagine that companies like Groupon are in this business primarily for the benefit of the customer. Good customer service is important and essential to the long-term health of the business, but people go into business to make money!
  • benjusbenjus Forumite
    5.4K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts
    I've used GroupOn to join the Streetcar car club and to get a discounted meal at a restaurant I already knew and liked. My partner got a discounted hair treatment. No problems with any of them.
    Let's settle this like gentlemen: armed with heavy sticks
    On a rotating plate, with spikes like Flash Gordon
    And you're Peter Duncan; I gave you fair warning
  • You know the worst part - if the customer doesn't redeem the voucher groupon keep the money and not the retailer! The retailer only gets the money as they redeem each voucher as its used! No wonder groupon is doing so well!!
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