What Is Groupon and Is It Right for Me?

Andrew Reyes
A computer screen displays the Groupon home screen.

Groupon is one of the go-to websites for people looking to save money by purchasing deeply discounted products, experiences, and services. Having a personal budget to keep your spending on track is essential.

There are a couple of ways you could stretch your budget dollars further. You could turn to couponing to take advantage of discounts or check out limited-time offers through daily deal websites such as Groupon. If you’re strategic about the goods and services you need, you could save considerable money using websites such as Groupon. Here’s more on how the daily deal website works.

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How Does Groupon Work?

Groupon works by providing limited-time deals you must purchase a coupon for. Say you’re looking for a dinner for two at a sushi restaurant. You would search Groupon in your area for Japanese restaurant offers. You may find a sushi dinner for two for $49, which is 50% the normal price. The offer may have a couple of hundred buyers and good reviews.

You’ll need to purchase the deal to receive a coupon you could open through the Groupon app or from the email confirmation. The offer will be good for a limited time, so you’ll call the restaurant and make a reservation to use your Groupon coupon. Once you’re at the restaurant, you use the coupon to pay for the meal, although taxes and tips may be additional.

Groupon has several types of offers:

Deals of the Day

Check this section daily for popular deals that are discounted further for just 24 hours. You’ll notice a countdown clock on the Deals of the Day to let you know how much time you have before it’s over.

Groupon Goods

If you’re in search of clothing or merchandise, the Groupon Goods category may have what you’re looking for from well-known and small, local retailers.

Groupon Getaways

Groupon Getaways is the website’s travel deals section with offers on hotels, local experiences, and vacation packages.

Groupon Live

Groupon’s online ticket division sells concert, sport, and live event tickets. The website partnered with Ticketmaster to bring you Groupon Live.

Groupon Select

A members-only program for regular Groupon shoppers who are interested in exclusive perks and additional savings. Groupon Select members pay $4.99 per month for the service.

Groupon Pros

  • It’s one of the most established daily deal websites around;
  • You’ll save money on goods, services, experiences, dining, and travel;
  • There are plenty of new deals each day;
  • If you’re wondering how this might benefit your company, businesses that advertise a promotion on Groupon attract many customers;
  • You might get a chance to try something you wouldn’t have been able to try before because of the price.

Groupon Cons

  • Limited variety of offerings;
  • Many local deals are final sales — no refund allowed;
  • Terms and conditions for deals could vary — it’s vital to read the fine print before you lock one in;
  • You may only have access to services during off-peak or inconvenient days and hours;
  • Businesses that use Groupon to promote an offer may find the customers that buy using Groupon aren’t loyal, repeat customers — they’re looking for the next deal.

Is Groupon Safe?

Groupon aims to be a safe deal provider by being selective of the businesses and deals that companies offer customers. Fraud may still happen and you could end up buying something from a partner that doesn’t deliver on what they promised. If customers complain about an offer, Groupon will remove it from their website, but some deals from dishonest or unprofessional individuals still fall through the cracks.

Before you buy, check out the reviews from other Groupon customers and do a little research about the company and the product outside of the Groupon website to get an idea of whether the item or the seller is fraudulent.

From a budget standpoint, Groupon doesn’t provide many everyday essentials at a discount that could take the pressure off your tight budget. If you’re planning on sticking to your budget, Groupon’s offers for travel, meals out, or spa days are tempting, but could cause you to overspend.

Turn to Groupon for a birthday treat for yourself or a loved one — otherwise consider other alternatives for online deals, such as coupon apps, or deal websites, such as Brad’s Deals to save on daily essentials.

Groupon Scams

Scams happen — even on Groupon. Some to watch out for include:

  • Unauthorized purchases: You may discover that someone used your credit card number after you pay for a Groupon. Keep an eye on your credit card activity closely if you plan on using Groupon to reduce your chances of getting stuck with fraudulent bills.
  • Hacked account: Make sure you use a strong password and a user ID that isn’t easy to figure out. Hackers have been known to break into Groupon accounts and purchase thousands of dollars of goods and services using unsuspecting customers’ credit card numbers on file.
  • Long terms and conditions: If a Groupon business has a long list of exclusions and rules, redeeming your coupon may be next to impossible.
  • Few coupons purchased: If less than a dozen coupons have been purchased for an item or experience, it may be a sign that the offer is a scam.

Who Is Responsible?

If you have an issue with a Groupon coupon, it’s important to understand who is responsible. Knowing who to contact could save you time and the hassle of having to go back and forth between the company and Groupon.

If you attempt to use a voucher and the business rejects it, if the business is too busy to schedule you for the service you paid for, or if you feel the item or service isn’t what was advertised, the seller is responsible. It’s best to try and resolve the matter with the business first and document your attempt by communicating via text or email.

If you’re unable to resolve an issue with the business providing the coupon, the business declines to help you, or the Groupon listing is illegal or prohibited, contact Groupon to resolve the issue.

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