The following is from a Savings.com blogger. Do you use daily deal sites? I had to stop when I was getting out of debt because I found I bought more than I actually used. But she offers some great tips below on how to actually maximize your usage of these sites!
I live for a good bargain, but after spending a small fortune on daily deal sites such as Groupon, Living Social and Amazon Local, I’ve learned that not all deals are created equal. Like mama said, sometimes the devil is in the details.
From spa treatments to food and entertainment deals, I’ve figured out how to get the most from daily deal sites and also how to sniff out the bad deals. So please, take a moment to learn from my mistakes, and you’ll end up saving your hard-earned dollars for something more worthwhile.
Read the Fine Print
If you’ve ever read the complaints against some of these deal sites, you’ll see a lot of angry people who didn’t read the fine print. For instance, if you get a deal involving services such as carpet cleaning or re-roofing your entire roof, make sure they actually service your zip code. It makes no sense to get a deal that doesn’t apply to you, unless of course you decide to move to the serviced zip codes. Within the fine print, you may also see an expiration date. Make sure that you note the expiration date somewhere on your calendar, because once the deal expires, it’s worth nothing to you.
Don’t Settle for Less Than Half Off
If your deal is not at least 50 percent off the retail value, it’s probably not worth your time. Of course, there are exceptions — if your favorite restaurant is offering a less-than-amazing deal, but you know you’ll be going there soon, it might be worth the tiny savings. If you look through Valpak and other local coupon mailers, you may be able to get a better deal than what the daily deal sites offer, so don’t always jump on the next deal that you find. Do a little research!
Look Out for Coupons
While discounts on the daily deal sites are great, you can generally save even more by using coupons on the sites. Living Social often has coupons for 15-20 percent off your purchase. If you sign up for their emails, you’ll always get notified of these coupons. Groupon occasionally offers $10 or 15 percent off your purchases. With an extra discount, I’ve gotten up to 80 percent off the retail price of my deals.
Use Your Negotiation Skills
Can you get a better deal than what you see on a daily deal site? Yes, you can! Most of the merchants on the daily deal sites make almost nothing on those deals; they consider it more of an advertising method. If you reach out to the merchants directly, they may offer a deal that’s even better than the one you’re seeing online. A few years ago, a local company was selling memory foam mattresses through Groupon. I reached out to the merchant, and they were able to match the deal and offer free shipping on top of it — which was not included in the Groupon deal.
Mind the Restrictions
Should a deal be so complex that you really don’t understand what you can or cannot do or get? It really shouldn’t. A deal should be plain and simple. If you want to eat sushi, you should be able to eat sushi, right? Unfortunately at some restaurants, there are so many restrictions that it may not be worth it. Case in point: I recently saw a voucher for a beer garden that doesn’t include alcohol. Seriously? If there’s a long list of restrictions, you’re usually better off passing up the deal.
Make Customer Service Your Friend
What if you received bad service, or for some reason you couldn’t use the voucher? Wasted money, right? Wrong. From my experience with daily deal sites, they want you to be happy. Early this year, I tried an aerial yoga class, and midway through the class I was nauseous and felt like I had vertigo. A few of my other classmates actually took turns barfing. After being off-balance for a few weeks, I knew I couldn’t finish out my voucher for five classes. I immediately let Groupon know, and they credited my account with the cost of the deal. Never waste your money on a deal that you couldn’t take advantage of.
Are you addicted to daily deal sites? Tell us how you use them to save money!
Susan Yoo-Lee is a mother of two and the editor at The Scratch, a Savings.com blog where professional funny people take a crack at saving you a buck. She founded Mommas in the House in 2009 when she was pregnant with her 2nd child. Currently, you can see some of her published work on LHJ.com, More.com, WomansDay.com, AJC.com, ClarkHoward.com, US News & World Report, Military.com, LearnVest.com and more.