Deal sites

September 13, 2021

Cheap onions online coupon crashes Groupon India's website

It's not a phenomenon that will make you weep, but one popular online coupon for onions was the culprit in crashing Groupon India's website, according to Al Jazeera America.

The stampede of online traffic was for a week-long deal which offered 3,000 buyers a day one kilogram of onions for nine rupees ($0.14 USD). On September 5, the deal's first day, it sold out within 44 minutes. On September 9, the onions were sold out within seven minutes, which means that there must have been a least 3,000 users and more who were at their computers clicking refresh.

"The driver behind this is obviously fun. It was meant to generate excitement by selling onions at a knock-down price," Ankur Warikoo, chief executive of Groupon India, told AFP.

If there's anything to be said with how Groupon handled the deal, at least they were smart enough to put a cap on the number of coupons sold. We've all heard unfortunate tales of customers losing out because businesses are unable to keep up with the demand of online coupons sold.

It may sound silly that India's population stampeded over a bag of onions, but there's more to it than that. Onions are a popular ingredient in India, but this past summer onion prices skyrocketed and even cost as much as 100 rupees ($1.56  USD). These whopping onion prices are a national issue with the upcoming elections later this year and it wouldn't be the first time that onion prices have affected India's politics.

With the country hit by damaging monsoon rains and a shortage of onions, food stall owners have resorted to safeguarding their onions from thieves at night. And what's to say Canadians won't feel a price sting, especially since India produces 19 per cent of the global supply of onions?

While Canadians aren't as anxious about our country's economy, at least compared to the Americans, we've already been hit by rising food costs. On a typical month, Canadian families spend an average of $411 on groceries, but higher costs are making Canadians shop around and cutback on other expenses, according to a recent RBC report.

If it's some consolation, at least we can feel better knowing that our food prices aren't as high compared to other developed countries. Though it may be high time to consider buying groceries if you're shopping in the United States since they're still cheaper down south.

While India's residents know why the price of onions has gone up, the British are scratching their heads about at a mysterious 40 per cent price drop in their beloved Marmite, the food spread that you either love or hate. It's high time for bargain hunters to stock up on the dark brown sticky stuff sinking to three pounds for a large jar compared to five pounds, an all-time high that it hit in 2010. At least that stuff keeps better.

How much do you spend on groceries each month? What groceries have you bought recently that are more expensive?

July 26, 2021

Hosting a guest in your home may be opening the door to trouble

IStock_000000369764Medium[1]Hosting your home to strangers may be opening a whole new host of problems.

More and more Canadians are participating in home exchanges, hosting guests or even renting out rooms in their homes.

While this may give homeowners an extra little cash in their pockets or even provide an affordable vacation, it may also open the door to unexpected circumstances that are not covered by insurance.

Continue reading »

June 24, 2021

Groupon to settle class-action lawsuit

Groupon, the biggest seller of so-called daily deals, has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging the expiration dates on its discount coupons are illegal.

Typically, the policy governing daily deals allows for the customer to be able to redeem an expired coupon but at the purchase price as opposed to its face value. Apparently, that's not the way it's supposed to work, according to most provincial laws.

For instance, if you paid $25 for a $40 Daily Deal voucher, then you are still entitled to redeem it after the stated expiry date for the $25 purchase price but not the $15 promotional value, explains the various law firms representing the group.  

Think you've been had by the local nail boutique? Then you better get on board.

To make a claim about an unused Daily Deal you'll have to certify that you have an unredeemed and unrefunded Daily Deal voucher that expired prior to March 8, 2013. You must also certify that you either attempted to redeem your voucher at the merchant, or that it's not possible for you to attempt to do so.

A good portion of the settlement money will be going to the legal team, of course -- but you never know.

Good luck.

Gordon Powers, MSN Money


November 19, 2021

Are you all that satisfied with daily deal sites?

As the Christmas lights go up, daily deals sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial, as well as a stack of local clones, are ramping up their offerings for the holiday shopping season.

This despite continuing reports of both consumers and businesses falling victim to Groupon remorse – that sinking feeling that, upon reflection, the decision to purchase or even offer a daily deal was, well, a bit unwise.

In a survey conducted for the listing service Manta, 82% of small businesses say they plan to steer clear daily deal sites this year, largely because they generate such a low rate of repeat customers.  

What's worse, naive or simply stunned vendors regularly underestimate demand, which means your coupon is either devalued somehow, subject to more restrictions than you’re willing to put up with, or simply becomes little more than a scam. 

Here's the latest example. 

Continue reading »

September 24, 2021

Have you heard enough from daily deal sites?

Drowning in daily deals that pour into your inbox? Well, you're not alone. 

Not only have the slew of deals lost their shine for consumers, but participating businesses are losing interest as well.

Groupon and other deals programs have been criticized by many merchants who felt the one-off deals weren't necessarily a good strategy because buyers didn't necessarily become regular customers.

They often overwhelmed the businesses, spent the bare minimum and then left. And there have been problems with vendors who fail to make good on their coupons or simply disappear.

But the real issue is 'deal fatigue,' say marketers -- a malady that's expected to affect more and more consumers, killing Groupon's share price at the same time.

The company's stock fell to an all-time low recently as analysts slashed price targets and ratings after it reported that it was collecting less money from customers.

Might you be one of them?

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July 16, 2021

When it comes time to pay the bill, who gets to use the coupon?

Presh Talwalkar, the mind behind the site Mind Your Decisions likes to use game theory to back up everday decision-making.

For instance, it's Friday night and you’re out for dinner with a few friends. When it comes time to split the bill, out comes that coupon that's been burning a hole in your pocket.

Here's the question: Should the $$ offered reduce the entire group bill, or only how much you pay individually?

Does it make any difference if it's a gift card; a Groupon-like voucher that you purchased; or a discount from a previous visit?

Continue reading »

June 19, 2021

Automated flower service makes up for all those good intentions

No power tools this Father's Day? Well, maybe they simply forgot. Or your spouse/partner simply didn't hound them enough.

You, of course, wouldn't be so foolish -- which is the key to KeepHerHappy, an automatic flower delivery service website geared for forgetful men who are married or in committed relationships and hope to stay that way.

“We’ve completely automated the flower-purchasing habits of men and made life a lot easier for our customers,” co-owner Dan Fallak tells the Ottawa Citizen.

“Men come to our site, enter a few details about their wife or girlfriend, as well as some important dates and we automatically ship her flowers on special events such as Valentine’s Day, on her birthday and on their anniversary,” he explains.

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May 14, 2021

Groupon introduces loyalty program for repeat buyers

A new rewards program from Groupon aims to increase the likelihood that one-time only ‘daily deal’ customers finally become long-term customers.

Groupon and other deals programs have been criticized by many merchants who felt one-off deals weren't necessarily a good strategy because buyers didn't necessarily become regular customers. And there have been problems with vendors who fail to make good on their coupons.

But, for those that do come back, the new service is basically an online version of traditional punch cards that give you a free sandwich after 10 visits.

According to Fast Company, Groupon Rewards doesn’t involve the swiping of a special card like loyalty programs at supermarkets and drugstores. Instead, customers sign up for the new program simply by paying with the same credit or debit card they have on file with Groupon.

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July 21, 2021

Is a daily deal site just for men really necessary?

It was bound to happen: The daily-deal business model popularized by Groupon is inspiring a number of group-focused copycats looking to dissect an already crowded marketplace.

With so few few barriers to entry, a number of group-buy sites geared toward specific groups are sprouting up, beyond those that concentrate on certain product areas like electronics or pet food.

Healthy Deals just launched over the weekend providing savings of 50 to 80 per cent off on heath, beauty and wellness products and services, largely geared to women who seem to be driving growth on group-buying sites.

Men and women visit retail sites in practically equal amounts, but women spend 20 per cent more time on those sites. That time equates to more money spent in most retail categories, as women buy more frequently than men do.

In fact, according to recent research from Comscore, women comprise a majority of the U.S. audiences on both Groupon (62%) and LivingSocial (67%).

Continue reading »


Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...