Personal Finance 

Money Leaks: Buying Groupons You Don’t Need

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Here’s a classic deal hunter’s dilemma – you see something on big discount and you’re very tempted to buy it because it’s such a good deal. There’s just one problem… you don’t need it now. It’s like seeing all those barbecue grill deals outside Home Depot at the end of the season. Those grills are fantastic deals, but you already have a grill!

Groupons, and discount voucher dealers like them, rely on this very mentality. You see a deal for a dozen cupcakes, or perhaps a massage; but how many of those deals are to places you already go to? How about vouchers? Those 80% off discounts are pretty incredible, until you realize that you haven’t heard of 99% of the restaurants they sell vouchers to.

The reality is that most of the businesses that use Groupons and are usually either very new or fairly low demand. What you end up doing is buying a voucher on deep discount for something you probably wouldn’t have purchased at full price anyway. In other words, you aren’t really saving anything. You’re spending when you otherwise wouldn’t have.

This is the latest edition of our new series called Money Leaks.

Incidentally, I love Groupon. I’ve used it and various clones like Living Social, Saveology, and Buywithme a lot to get great discounts on things we already spend our money on. I’m a huge fan every time one of them offers discounted movie tickets or vouchers to a local restaurant we happen to enjoy regularly.

What if you’re stuck with a voucher you no longer want? Fortunately, you have two options:

  • Return it: Groupon lets you return your groupon if you no longer want it. Some other companies are the same way, but always double check.
  • Resell it: Secondary markets have appeared for these types of vouchers. The most well known one is probably CoupRecoup but there are plenty of them out there.

Personally, I only buy it if I know I’ll be using it within a month. If I don’t, I usually pass on the deal (I can always look for it on the secondary markets!).

{ 5 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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5 Responses to “Money Leaks: Buying Groupons You Don’t Need”

  1. David M says:

    I do not believe that returning your Groupon is in the spirit of the Groupon guarentee. They will probably honor your request so as to not lose a customer. However, the guarantee is suposed to be for if you are not pleased with the experience not “buyers remorse”

    Just my opion!!!

    • David M says:

      The website says:

      Our Promise To You

      Nothing is more important to us than treating our customers well.

      If you ever feel like Groupon let you down, give us a call and we’ll return your purchase –simple as that.

      BTW – if you get a refund – they are going to not pay the person you bought the Groupon from. Again in my opinion – this is not fair to that companay and not in the spirit of “The Groupon Promise”

  2. Cathie says:

    Excellent point. I have lost out on some deals that I purchased (and of course lost the money I spent) that I let expire. On the other hand, I’ve saved a LOT on things that we do normally buy.
    As for, I’m at about 50% satisfaction rating, but I knew going in that I was taking a chance with some of these places. At least I only buy these at DEEPLY discounted prices, like when they are $2 at the end of the month. And the stories about the failures are kind of entertaining, so there’s that.

  3. Thanks for the head’s up on the Groupon return policy! I too have jumped on some good deals that I did not really need or I knew that I would never use.

  4. Christian says:

    I found the best way of handling this was to cancel by Groupon and Living Social accounts.

    It was far too tempting on some offers that I really shouldn’t have gone for, and I found it was difficult to remember (or find the time) to get reimbursed if I couldn’t use the coupon.

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