Things You Should Know About Groupon


It’s been nearly 15 years since Groupon burst on the scene as a way to score deep discounts on everything…

It’s been nearly 15 years since Groupon burst on the scene as a way to score deep discounts on everything from fine dining to car detailing. It quickly developed a legion of devoted followers, but deal vouchers that were difficult to redeem or expired quickly disillusioned some shoppers.

However, the online marketplace has since revamped how it does business, now offering goods as well as services and promising that even expired vouchers retain their purchase value. Those changes have helped bring customers back into the fold.

“There is no better way for parents to find unique local activities for children to have a family fun day,” says Janice Robinson-Celeste, CEO of Successful Black Parenting magazine. “Jump onto Groupon’s website, and you’ll find everything from traveling exhibits to bumper cars.”

Whether you are a new or returning Groupon shopper, here’s what you need to know about how the company does business today.

What Is Groupon?

Launched in 2008, Groupon originally offered a single deal per day. To activate the deal, a certain number of people would have to buy in. These daily deals were available for 24 hours, and early offers included two-for-one pizzas and 50% off at local retailers. Once a deal was activated, anyone who purchased it would receive a voucher that could be redeemed later.

Those group-activated deals are a thing of the past. Instead, Groupon now offers vouchers for discounted goods and services that can be purchased at any time with no minimum number of buyers required.

While the company has expanded its offerings, local deals remain central to its mission. “We are community-centric and really focused on helping local businesses thrive,” says Nick Halliwell, Groupon spokesperson.

How Does Groupon Work?

Before you start buying deals on Groupon, take a moment to understand the ins and outs of the site. Here’s what you need to know about Groupon:

— Both goods and services are sold on Groupon.

— Read reviews before buying.

— Understand the fine print.

— Not all deals are created equal.

— Promo codes and cash-back sites offer additional savings.

— Payment options can vary by deal.

— Groupon has pros and cons for business owners.

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Both Goods and Services Are Sold on Groupon

While you can still buy vouchers for discounted services or savings at local stores, Groupon now offers a wide selection of physical goods.

You can find the following and more on the site:

— Hotels and travel.

— Home goods such as comforters and cookware.

— Jewelry and flowers.

— Clothing.

— Sporting goods and fitness equipment.

— Entertainment tickets.

— Automotive services.

— Electronics including televisions and home security systems.

— Food and drink.

— Pet supplies.

Customers can still search for offers by location, but many deals are available to shoppers regardless of where they live.

Trae Bodge, a smart shopping expert with the website TrueTrae.com, suggests users hover over the bell icon on the Groupon homepage to see specials such as the site’s Deal of the Day. “This is an easy way to find the best deals on Groupon,” she says.

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Read Reviews

If you buy goods on Groupon, check the reviews to see whether other customers believe the item is represented accurately on the website. As for services, watch for red flags that could indicate a fraudulent deal, such as no reviews or very few purchases.

“Find the location on Google street view to see what the neighborhood looks like,” advises Robinson-Celeste. An address that isn’t an obvious business or doesn’t match what you would expect for the product or service being offered could be a warning sign.

Also check the company’s website and social media accounts to confirm it matches the details on Groupon. If it seems too good to be true, contact the business directly to confirm they posted the offer. If you find yourself on the receiving end of counterfeit goods or a fake voucher, contact Groupon immediately.

Understand the Fine Print

Don’t buy any deal vouchers until you’ve reviewed the redemption requirements. “Always read the fine print and check the expiration date,” says Rebecca Gramuglia, consumer expert at cash back website TopCashback.com.

Other fine print details include additional fees and charges, restrictions for new customers only or access to a limited menu or selection of products when redeeming a Groupon voucher. Some Groupon deals may only be used on specific days. “Keep in mind that there may be a waiting period in the terms that prevents you from using it on the same day of your purchase,” Gramuglia adds.

Be sure to check the refund and cancellation policy too. If you are on vacation and purchase a Groupon for a weather-dependent activity, like whale watching, what happens if the company cancels? If you don’t live in the area, you may not be able to reschedule, so make sure you can get a full refund.

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Not All Deals Are Created Equal

At the website’s start, it wasn’t unusual to see deals on Groupon for 70% off retail prices. Nowadays, you might find 35% off a haircut or 10% off a car wash. Deeper discounts may be found on travel packages and physical goods.

However, beware of inflated retail prices. Just because something is listed on Groupon at a substantial discount doesn’t make it a good deal. Customers still need to do their research, compare prices and read reviews to ensure they are spending their money wisely.

“Groupon’s deep discounts create a sense of urgency and also make services, expenses and products appear more affordable,” says Andrea Woroch, a nationally recognized family finance expert. “However, if there’s something you didn’t plan to buy, don’t buy it just because it’s on sale.”

Promo Codes and Cash-Back Sites Offer Additional Savings

Customers can save even more by using promo or coupon codes or shopping through a cash back website when ordering from Groupon.

“When it comes to shopping at Groupon, you are already getting a deal, but there are even more options to take the savings further,” Gramuglia says. “Be sure to shop through a cash back site, like TopCashback, to earn the highest percentage of your money back when shopping at Groupon.”

Though not always available, coupons codes can also be found on free deal aggregators such as Slickdeals, DealCatcher or the browser extension Honey. A typical coupon may take 20% to 30% off the price of select Groupon purchases.

Payment Options Can Vary by Deal

While Groupon accepts all major credit cards and PayPal for purchases on its site, vendors may have different payment requirements when it comes time to redeem a voucher. For instance, not all merchants accept American Express cards. However, this information should be included on the deal page and is one more reason to read the fine print.

Is Groupon Legit for Businesses?

While Groupon may not make sense for all businesses, it is a legitimate way for companies to get their goods and services in front of a wider audience.

“We’ve worked with more than one million merchant partners to date,” Halliwell says. “As a pay-only-for-performance marketing channel, we don’t take anything upfront from our merchants.”

In order to make an offer enticing to shoppers, businesses may have to offer a discount that significantly reduces their profit, and Groupon users may not turn into repeat customers.

Despite that, businesses may find it worthwhile to tap into the vast marketing potential of Groupon. And savvy consumers who read reviews and watch for the deals they offer will undoubtedly benefit too.

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Things You Should Know About Groupon originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 10/04/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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