Groupon and Living Social are 2 sites that have just exploded in popularity the past few months. They feature a a social feature called “group buying.” This is where huge deals (often starting at at least 50% off) are offered by merchants once a predetermined number of sales have been reached. If the required number of sales don’t get made, the deal doesn’t happen.
I’ve bought several of these deals through both sites and have had a relatively good experience with group buying. There have been two instances when my experience was not so great (with Groupon), and I’d like to share them with you in the hopes that you don’t make the same mistake either.
First, research the merchant. I cannot stress this one enough. If I would have more thoroughly researched my bad experience merchants, I wouldn’t have had bad experiences.
The more recent situation actually happened yesterday (6/15/11). We had purchased a car detail offer through South Dixie Auto Wash for an interior or exterior wash and detail. At a first glance, the offer looked pretty legit and the website and reviews of the merchant checked out pretty okay also. Upon arrival, the rudeness and negligence started. The car attendant gave a pick up time of “afternoon,” when the website had clearly stated it was a two-hour wash — and we had made an appointment to come in. They did not confirm the services we were going to receive on the car.
At car pick up, we were asked to pay tax because supposedly Groupon doesn’t collect tax. That sounds a little weird, okay – when asked how much the tax was, the response was $20. Yep – $20! When asked why so high, the cashier’s response was because it included gratuity (really? for a car wash?). Because we thought it sounded a bit off, we asked a gentleman waiting in line behind us and he said tax sounded right but $20 seemed a little high. We agreed and instead handed over a $5. Rather than giving us the change, they took the $5 and considered our payment done. Upon returning home, it was realized that not only did they NOT detail very well, but they stole all the money we had in the car. Luckily, it was a few dollars worth of loose change – but still. How are people so dishonest and ruthless?
Secondly, is do not expect to use your Groupon right away. This incident actually happened last fall so the merchant name has slipped my memory. We had purchased some gift certificates from what looked like a very reputable massage place. About a week later, I called to try and make an appointment. After several tries and no answers or returned voicemails, we found out that this reputable spa actually only had one masseuse – who sold over 800 deals. Needless to say, I was not going to be getting a massage anytime soon.
With both of these experiences, we filed a complaint with Groupon who promptly credited our account with a refund. I have to give mad props to them for their outstanding customer service. I know that they will take care of me if something like this happens again.