We knew it was coming… the day that many parents dread. We would need to fork over the cash to outfit our dear daughter in braces. We had been quoted around $3500 for the procedure. This is no small expense for parents – particularly for families like mine who are self-employed and don’t carry dental insurance.
We had started investigating orthodontists in our area when we came across an offer that seemed too good to be true: half-off complete braces treatment. The source of the offer? One of the many daily deal providers I had been avidly watching. The deal was with an orthodontist we had already met with and liked. Simply because I checked my ‘daily deal’ email folder on that day, we saved ourselves $1750!
Daily deal sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, Eversave, Saveology, MLive.com’s Deal of the Day and many others have caught the fancy of a very active contingent of shoppers – although with as many companies and offers available each day, it can be a daunting task for a consumer to manage all the offers. We recently started indexing these deals and found there are 20-30 new ‘deals of the day’ each morning in Grand Rapids, other cities are similar. This week, we’re making our free Daily Deal watcher publicly available at: http://savingsangel.com/deals/. If you’re like me, the number of emails was getting a bit much to manage. We’ll be indexing the offers from hundreds of deal sites in over 100 cities on one easy-to-use page.
Whether you’re a daily deal buying pro, or have never purchased a deal for yourself, I’d like to offer six tips that can help you avoid some costly mistakes. Buying up daily deals is a great way to purchase almost any local product or services – but it’s not without some potential pitfalls.
1. Save time. Use a deal aggregator. Whether you use our Daily Deal Watcher – or use sites like bing.com/deals, Yipit.com, 8coupons.com, and thedealmap.com, it simply is the most efficient way to scan through all your local offers in sixty seconds or less. Going to the individual sites or scanning through email after email can be very time consuming and you may miss that one deal that you’ve been waiting for.
2. Slow down there, partner. Yes – it can be exciting to buy bowling trips, movie tickets, horseback riding, and a seat in a soap-making making class at half price – but take a serious look at the deal’s expiration date and your calendar. Great deals will come day after day whether you buy today’s deal or not. If you start getting too backed up with deals, take a break from the deals and work through a balance of deals that is easier to manage. A half-priced deal you aren’t able to use is no good deal at all. If you develop buyer’s remorse or want to unload a few deals, you can offer them to a friend, or resell them at sites like Lifesta.com, DealsGoRound.com, or CoupRecoup.com. These are sites that specialize in reselling deals – and can also be a good place to find a deal you missed.
3. Wait a minute… what did that fine-print say? The larger sites like Groupon tend to have a pretty good reputation for being very upfront regarding the terms and conditions of the deal – but make sure you read the details carefully. The deal may not fully meet your needs – or you may have to shell out extra money at the time of redemption. If it’s available, use the ‘ask a question’ link to chat with other deal shoppers, customer service, and possibly the merchant themselves. This feature is a staple of Groupon – and the lack of this feature is why I buy only half as much as through LivingSocial.
4. Hey! That’s not such a great deal. I can get that anytime. There are also occasions when a deal isn’t really a great deal at all compared to other methods of purchasing the product or service. A quick Internet search may reveal coupons and existing offers that are just as good – or better. In this case, save your money and buy at your leisure.
5. Are you sure you want to go there? The price may be great – but are you sure you want to eat at a restaurant that is voted #135 out of 137 restaurants on TripAdvisor or Yelp? Sure, you may have low expectations – but with the number of ways to get great deals, you can eat for half-price pretty much anytime you want these days. Do some research before clicking “buy.”
6. Hey! Where’d they go? A struggling business may put out a great offer through a daily deal site as a way of staying alive if business is slow. They get paid upfront for selling the deals and will give up product or their services as customers redeem their deals over the next several months. On two occasions, I’ve shown up at the place of business to find they are no longer around. My advice is that if you aren’t sure whether or not a business is still open, give them a call before driving off to see them. If they have gone under, almost every Daily Deal site has a very good refund policy.
Be careful of shopping beyond your budget – even if you’re getting a great bargain but don’t let my tips scare you off from getting into the daily deal scene. It’s amazing what products and services have been showing up for 50% off or better – things that you may already be paying full price for.