Buyer Beware, That Groupon Deal Might Not Actually Exist

Laptop computer displaying logo of Groupon on a white desk

Groupon can be a great place for a bargain or three, but sometimes not all is as it seems…

Everyone loves a good deal, and so many of us hunt them out on Ebay, spend hours scouring Amazon on Black Friday or browsing Groupon for that bargain outfit or an affordable dinner for two. Unfortunately, if the past few years have taught me anything, it’s that you might not get what you bargained for. From my own experiences, these are four stories of Groupon purchases that ended up being a bad deal:

The Forgotten Father-In-Law

A few years ago, my husband and I arranged for my father-in-law to go on a professional photography tour around Bristol. The tour guide was provided, you just turned up with your camera, walk, learn and take some pictures. We read the small print carefully and, when we were given dates for this tour, we picked one that would best suit my husband’s Dad. Unfortunately though, when my father-in-law got into town, he was the only person there. Even after waiting around for an hour, the tour guide still failed to appear. We were later told by my father-in-law that the tour had been cancelled because of a lack of numbers. That tour was never refunded or rearranged.

Thomas The (Diesel) Tank Engine

Father’s Day again, and this time we decided to send my husband’s father on a carefully thought-out steam train trip with his beloved fish and chips for dinner. The ticket was booked and again, my father-in-law turned up on time. However, on this occasion the train that was pulling the passenger cars wasn’t a steam train at all, but rather a diesel locomotive. The ride also wasn’t a trip through rolling countryside but a ride to the end of a stretch of track and back, and the fish and chips were provided, still wrapped in paper, by a local takeaway. When we called for an explanation, we were told that as my father-in-law had eaten the food and ridden the ride in full, we weren’t entitled to a refund.

Our Dinner Date Disaster

Matt and I spotted a ‘two courses for the price of one’ deal at Bella Italia so, being lovers of Italian cuisine, we decided to spoil ourselves to dinner at our nearest Bella Italia restaurant. Having eaten our meals and dessert, we presented what we thought were two redeemable vouchers, only to be told that the offer expired two weeks ago and Groupon obviously hadn’t updated the offer. The bar lady spoke to the manager and they charged us 50% off of our desserts as a gesture of goodwill, but our affordable dinner date ended up being a little less affordable after all!

The Missing Massage

The most recent story happened last year, when my mother’s lodger presented her with her Christmas present – a boking for an hour long pamper and mini massage. When she attended, the parlour had no record of the booking and offered a half-hour massage session instead. My mother declined, and her lodger again pursued a refund from Groupon.

How To Get The Most Out Of Groupon

It’s always worth reading the small print on these deals, and nearly always there is some sort of catch that makes the deal not quite what you had first envisioned (like having to go for dinner before 5pm in the middle of the week!). Before you get caught out, here are some other things that you may want to consider prior to ordering that deal:

  • Call up and check – It’s always worth calling up to check that the deal is currently on offer. At best, you can ask for their name and quote the assistant as confirmation, and at worst, it saves you from spending money and the embarrassment of a gift that goes horribly wrong.
  • Research the venue – Sometimes, if you read reviews, you can find mentions of Groupon deals that have or have not been adhered to. Most customers will be happy to brag about what a nice time they had and how much money they saved, or how disappointed they were if their voucher was refused. Use their experiences prior to coughing up the cash to help you avoid any disappointment.
  • Check their offers instead – Okay, so 10% off of dinner with a loyalty card isn’t the same as 50% off from Groupon, but sometimes even a modest saving is better than the shame and embarrassment of your voiucher being declined. Sometimes, we have to suck up and accept that just occasionally, if the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.

I’m not saying that all of Groupon is bad and generally their products do seem to be much better than their restaurant deals and experience days. I for one order a Vax floor cleaner through Groupon which turned up within a week. It seems that if it’s a physical item which you can have delivered then you should encounter little difficulty, but if it’s a purchasable service then you have little hope of getting what you ordered at all!

Have you ever booked an experience day or a pamper session through Groupon? How did it go? I’d be interested to hear your stories in the comments.

Until next time,

Stay safe & have fun,

Helen xx



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