I joined Groupon in 2010 and routinely signed in at midnight to check the newest offers. The discounted deals didn't always help me save money, but they boosted my buying power and introduced me to a variety of new businesses. As daily deal sites proliferated, I shopped at other sites such as Living Social, Google Offers, and Amazon Local. The offers soon grew to include a disappointing hodgepodge of hair removal, money traps, and questionable bargains.
The deals shifted from a good mix of products and services to a repetitive roster of things like teeth whitening, laser hair removal, spa services, and boudoir photography. Seeing sensitive services offered at a big discount is a red flag instead of an enticement.
Many so-called vouchers offer savings comparable to existing coupons. Why should I invest in a restrictive daily deal when I can simply check my e-mail or mailbox for similar savings? Such offers seem like a somewhat shady way to lock people into shopping at a particular business.
Expiration dates are another money trap. I paid $10 for a $20 green voucher to a soap store. I accidentally let it expire, but it was supposed to retain the $10 value indefinitely. It did not. I had to correspond with the deal site before receiving a unique $10 coupon code directly from the retailer. Essentially, I bought a gift certificate, but it is classified as a coupon and isn't valid with other coupons.
Recent deals for Tiff's Treats and Vine.com lured me back into the habit. I enjoyed redeeming those offers and began checking daily deals regularly. I was excited to hear about a $50 Cheesecake Factory gift card available for only $25 at Mamampedia.com, but the site canceled the offer hours before it was supposed to begin.
kgbdeals.com had the same offer. I registered and managed to buy a gift card before it sold out. Then I heard The Cheesecake Factory posted a Facebook message warning customers about fraudulent gift cards. Before I could follow up, kgb had already refunded my money. kgb eventually sent an apology e-mail explaining that someone posing as a representative of The Cheesecake Factory set up the fraudulent offer. According to DailyDealMedia.com, kgb sold 7,000 to 10,000 of the restaurant vouchers before pulling the deal.
The glut of weird offers, money traps, and disconcerting brush with fraud are enough to zap the excitement of daily deal sites. Although I am open to shopping at my favorite sites if they run a useful deal, I don't bother to actively check the offers. I will never shop with new or lesser-known deal sites again.
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