Have You Tried Groupon?

If you have a Google reader RSS feed or spend any time online, you’ve probably seen the ads for Groupon (the one with the photo of those gorgeous cookies!) I finally signed up for it a few months ago and took advantage of my first groupon about three weeks ago.

How Groupon Works
Groupon makes a deal with a local store (or sometimes a national store/service) to present a coupon that is good for a certain amount of dollars off a purchase or service. Restaurants, bakeries, spas, and local stores are common Groupon offers. For example, a restaurant might offer a $20 Groupon that is good for $40 off a restaurant tab.  In order for anyone to get the deal, a certain number of people have to buy the Groupon. If that threshhold is met, the Groupon is activated the next day and typically good for 12 months, but they will state it clearly if there is an earlier expiration date. Most Groupons meet the threshhold and your card isn’t charged unless it is.

There is only one offer per day per city, although you will see a “side deal” on the site. You’ll only get one email with the primary deal, though.

If you want to be sure a deal will go through before you buy it, look at the box below the offer price on the left. It will tell you how many have been bought. If the minimum has been exceeded, it will say “The Deal Is On” and tell you what time the minimum was exceeded (and what it was.) If it hasn’t been exceeded, it will tell you how many more need to be bought to activate the deal. You can buy Groupons as gifts if it’s just a few away and you really want the deal! Just be warned that you can only use one of them for yourself. You really do have to give the others away.

Why Pay for a Coupon?
Most of these coupons are great deals. I’ve rarely seen one that was more than double the face value, so if you pay $20 to save $40, your total savings is $20. Yes, you did have to pay, but paying $20 is still cheaper than paying $40.

How to Sign Up
Signing up is easy. Simply choose your geographic area and then provide an email address. You’ll get an email with that day’s offer six days a week (no offers on Sunday.)

If an offer is something you want to buy, then you complete a full registration with billing details so they can charge you. You only have to do this once.

I subscribe to two deal emails – one for Los Angeles and one for the smaller area of Los Angeles where I live. Most cities only have one list, but Seattle, San Francisco and Washington D.C. all have two or three more. Other areas like New York have a different setup for their different lists. Frequently the deals will be the same across all of the areas in a metro, but occasionally there are different deals.

If you’re planning a trip, you might start checking that city’s deals for any restaurant, spa, or hotel deals that could be interesting.

Other Ways to Find Groupon Deals
Sometimes a national deal will only be advertised in a few cities, but anyone can buy it. This happened with the deal I bought. I also subscribe to a couple of coupon blogs. Frugal Coupon Livingposts alerts when great national Groupons are available. In my case, it was an Indianapolis deal.

My Groupon Experience
As I said, I found out about a deal in another city on a blog. It was $25 for a $75 coupon from Wine Insiders. I did a little research and discovered that they had 12-packs of wine for as low as $108, with free shipping. I would have to pay tax, but the final cost would work out to $5.70 per bottle. That’s slightly less than I pay for a bottle at Trader Joe’s, so as long as a bottle was worth more than $5.99, it was a good deal.

I jumped on the deal, and the next day I received an email that it was active. I went to my account and printed the Groupon. Even though I had 12 months, I knew I would forget to use it, so I ordered my Mystery Mix 12-pack within two weeks. The wine arrived about four days later. I researched the bottles and found that the cheapest was $9.99 and the most expensive was $19.99. That’s an average savings of $4.45 a bottle.

I’ve only been tempted by a couple other offers, but have only purchased one. If you like to eat, shop, go to the spa, or try new exercise facilities, give Groupon a try. It’s just one email a day that could save you big bucks!

Note: I’ll get $10 if you use the link above to sign up and then later buy a deal.

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