Friday, January 16, 2015

The Groupon Racket - If You Groupon, You Need to Read

Disclaimer: Sorry, it's long, but bear with me, it's an important read if you Groupon
Ah, the Groupon.  The steal of a deal and sometimes the only way we can justify a spa trip for ourselves.  "But Honey, it was half off!  So now my hair is too, do you like it?"  I've found plenty a good deal and have discovered some new favorite places.

This is all well and good, but what happens when your Groupon expires?  First thought, "Crap."  Then you start scouring the fine print to find out exactly what that means.  Most of us assume that the paid value can be used for anything that that business offers.  Like a store credit.  Myth number one.

To illustrate, I shall use my own personal example.  For my last birthday, my parents gave me a Groupon for Picture It On Canvas.  The deal was for a 16x20" print with free shipping for $26.99.
"Picture It On Canvas!  Make sure it's a photo of
you bending over."

 Well, oops, I let it expire.  I figured I'd use the $26.99 on some other deal on their site.  Then Picture It On Canvas had a sale, 16x20" prints for $24 plus $12.95 shipping.  Cool, I'll just apply my $26.99 to that and pay the difference.  Myth number two.

When I tried to check out, I was unable to because the Groupon voucher needs to be entered in the coupon field and you need to enter a coupon to get the $24 deal.  Two coupons cannot be combined in a single transaction.  Even though the Groupon is no longer a "coupon" but a credit, it's still viewed as a coupon and Picture It On Canvas requires coupon codes for sales rather than just discounting the items on their site.  When I contacted them, they said the Groupon is a coupon (not a store credit) and can't be used on sale items, but full price items only.  The 16x20" print is regularly $89.

Now going back to Groupon, I contacted their customer service to find out how I could use my Groupon as a credit and not a coupon (as the promotional portion is expired) and as far I can tell, they're confused.  We'll see where this goes.  If you read the print on the vouchers it says that once the promotional value expires, the paid value can be used on the original item, or if it's no longer available, something else the business offers.  Nowhere does it say, excluding sale priced items.

What does this mean?  It means I can buy the print on sale for $36.95 (with shipping) and be stuck with an unusable $26.99 Groupon or I can buy the same print for $74.96 (after Groupon voucher).  So, I guess Groupon and Picture It On Canvas get to be $26.99 richer and neither of them had to earn it.

Yes, please take my money.  No, I don't need anything
in return.  It's yours.
This got me to wondering about how many unused expired Groupons are out there?!  I know I'm not the only one passing up on an offer to pay full price just to use an expired Groupon.  I went through my history and found two Groupons I had gifted to someone else, that went unused.  Again, Groupon and the business are now $24 richer and neither of them earned it.  I could use the vouchers myself, but I would have to pay full price then apply the amount I already paid to Groupon (so still paying full price).  It's also not a business I would have personally used, but I was sure the person I'd given it to would have.

The thing is, if this were any other business, I would have a store credit, to use on any other item, sale or not.  After all, the business has already been paid, I'm just looking for something to spend my money on.  But it's not any other business, it's Groupon.  I don't know about you, but this seems shady and Groupon is making a killing.  Lesson learned, be wary purchasing Groupons for yourself or others unless you KNOW it will get used before it expires.  Otherwise, you're gambling and likely throwing money away.  Then the terrorists win. Or Groupon does anyway.

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