Getting the Most Out of Daily Deal Sites

by Sarah Winfrey on 15 November 2012 5 comments
Photo: Groupon

Groupon and other daily deal sites can be a great way to find and utilize new services in your community or connect with businesses online. However, it’s easy to spend a lot of money on deals and never feel like you’re actually getting a discount. When you know how to make the most of your daily deal opportunities, though, you’ll be able to buy in full confidence that you’re actually getting a deal that will work for you. (See also: Are Groupon Getaways a Good Idea?)

Know What’s Out There

Groupon is the most popular and well-known of the daily deal sites, but the truth is that there are a lot more options. Beyond the general interest ones, there are also sites specific to particular needs and interests. There are many sites with deals for babies, children, moms, electronics, etc.

Get a feel for a site before you buy anything. Subscribe for a few days or weeks, or check it out every time it’s updated. This will give you a feel for what each site offers, the type and quality of deals you can get, and which sites might be the best place to buy certain deals.

Make Sure the Deal Will Work for You

Before you buy a deal, consider whether or not you’ll use it. For instance, an outdoor photo shoot in the fall might be great if you live in Los Angeles, but much harder to use if you’re in Minneapolis. If you like to try new restaurants, a deal to a brand new place can be a good choice, but it’s a dubious one if you tend to frequent the same four or five places over and over again. Consider, too, any expiration date on the deal. If a deal is good for three months but you’re going to be unavailable for two of those, you may want to reconsider.

Wait for What You Want

While there are always spur-of-the-moment deals on things like restaurants and frozen yogurt, waiting for bigger ticket items or experiences can help you save a lot of money. Photographers will occasionally put up deals for a package of family photos, and sometimes amusement parks and other attractions will offer discounted tickets in the off-season or for less busy days of the week.

When you see a deal you’ve been waiting for, jump on it. Often, you won’t be the only person waiting, and many such deals can sell out.

Make Sure It’s a Deal

Some deals are obvious, like $20 worth of food for $10. On the other hand, some deals are less of a deal than the website might present them as. For instance, tickets to your local amusement park could run $50 per adult. If the deal site offers them for $25, a 50% discount, that seems significant. However, many times you can get discounted tickets through your local grocery stores, radio stations, or your workplace. Make sure that the deal site is truly offering you the best deal you can get.

In addition, consider added fees that may apply to your purchase. Many photography session deals include a minimal number of prints or photos on a DVD. If you want to purchase more pictures, you’ll end up paying their a la carte price, which can be expensive. Before you buy any deal, go to the merchant’s website and make sure you understand any additional fees, and that the deal is still a deal even with those fees.

Use Your Deals

Once you’ve purchased a deal, make sure you use it. This might seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget or lose track of your deals, especially when you have several of them purchased at a time. Find a way to keep track of your deals, or use them right away so you don’t have to think about them anymore.

Remember, even if you forget to use your deal for its promotional value, you can almost always still use it for the paid value. While this negates any discount you received, it does mean that you won’t lose the money you’ve already spent.

Follow Up if You Have Problems

While most deals go off without a hitch, sometimes things go wrong. When this happens, always get in touch with customer service at the website where you purchased the deal. In several years of purchasing deals, I’ve had merchants who wouldn’t contact me, and one company that tried to add charges several months after I’d used my deal. In all of these situations, I simply contacted the deal site and let them handle the problem. Most of the time, I’ve had my money refunded or I’ve been given credit to use on the site.

If you have any worries at all, reach out to customer service. They often have better contact information for the merchant than you do, and they want you to be happy so you come back and purchase more deals. This takes the headache away from you and means you don’t have to deal with any unpleasantness.

In the end, buying deals should help you save money on things that you would normally purchase or would like to purchase. If you feel like you’re using the sites but not saving money, take a step back and reevaluate.

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Guest's picture

Great advice. Being a college student I'm always looking for ways to save money, and my friends and I check out daily discount websites frequently. We've learned from experience that it's very easy to act out of impulse when searching on these sites, so I completely agree that it's important to wait for deals that you're sure you'll be able to use.

Guest's picture
Jon

Use Your Deals is an awesome point - my girlfriend has signed up for a bunch of these deals but then either lost interest in 'learning to bellydance' or whatever else she's signed up for that she doesn't bother in the end. Also, be wary if the site has sold hundreds or thousands of deals and they're only a small company then you could end up waiting months or longer before they are available to provide you with the service you bought!

Guest's picture
Jen

Buying from daily deal sites can help shoppers save big bucks, and they can also make great gifts. To get the most when I buy daily deals, I click through to also earn cash back. For example, BeFrugal has up to 10% cash back for Living Social right now.

Guest's picture

Its really important to pay attention to expiration dates and to use what you buy. My friend bough a massage for a really good deal one time, but then forget to use it before it expired and she lost out on a 60 minute massage!

Guest's picture

These days there's a lot of coupon websites selling different kinds of good deal. Before you select any deal, you must know first the reputation/review of the coupon site. Based on what I've experienced buying discounted flight/booked hotels for travel is one of the unsure deals that you can avail of. Since i experienced the inconvenience of scheduling it. So now, i only prefer buying beauty services.