Buyer Beware!

Groupon and other online-deal sites have been popping up all over the place recently. Like my friends, I’ve also jumped on the band wagon buying coupons and trying out restaurants, etc. Over the past months however, I’ve started hearing grumblings with these coupon sites. I thought I’d collect some of the major issues and post them here. Buyer beware!

Check the Menu Prices

Look at the prices of you menu. Even though the face value coupon may say $20 for $40 (a savings of 50%), it does not necessary mean you will be saving 50% at the end of your meal.

Consider the following example:

Say the meal costs $25 each and you go with your wife. The final bill is $50 and after the coupon, you pay an additional $10 (for simplicity sake, we won’t consider taxes or tips). The total amount you paid is $30 and received $50 of savings. This is only a 33% saving, down from the initial face value of 50%.

Going with friends?

Consider how many people you divide up the coupon. Lets take a look another example: The coupon is the same $20 for $40 and you split it among four friends. Each person pays $5 each. Say the meal costs $15 per person, so the final bill is $60 and everyone pays $5 in addition per person. The final amount each person pays is 10, which turns out to only a 33% savings. This is pretty good, but not the 50% that we began with.

Stated Terms and Conditions

Take a good look at the terms and conditions. Most restaurants allow dine-in only and only to be used during dinner. Others put restrictions on what can be ordered or even go as far as giving users a different “coupon” menu. Many times, these menu’s have been priced to make sure you end up paying additional amounts after the coupon’s discounts.

Unstated Terms and Conditions

Unfortunately, many merchants also enforce unstated terms and conditions that are not originally posted on the deal website. In these cases, your best bet is to try and ask for a refund from the deal site.

Sub-Premium Product

Beware that many theaters will seat coupon users in less-desired seats (such as front rows or seats with obscured views).


Product based companies can state that a particular coupon product is out of stock. Buyers then wait months for their product until the coupon is expired, at which point, they are now left in limbo with the deal site and the retailer.

Businesses are often legitimately overwhelmed due huge volume of buyers redeeming the coupon. This causes crowed restaurants, long lines-ups, and legitimately out-of-stock on coupon items.

Mind the Expiry Date

Some restaurants, salons, and service businesses require you to make reservations and state that you are a coupon user. This is used by unscrupulous businesses to deny you services (stating excuses such as full booking) to try and expire the coupon on you.

Printouts Required

Many sites require you to have a physical printout of the coupon. In the age of smart phones, this is incredibly archaic and the printout isn’t really required since businesses need to keep a record of coupon purchases themselves.

Buyer Beware

Remember the old adage, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is”.