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LivingSocial Review – Best Daily Deals Online, Right Where You Live


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livingsocial logo

Our rating

3.4/5

Pros

  • thumbs-upTight geographical segmentation for better relevance
  • thumbs-upLong promotional period
  • thumbs-upPaid value never expires

Cons

  • thumbs-downLimited offer selection
  • thumbs-downSignificant restrictions on some offers
  • thumbs-downTemptation to overspend

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LivingSocial is a website dedicated to giving you the best deal on a variety of different restaurants and activities, all right in your own neighborhood. Like the much larger Groupon, LivingSocial uses the social coupon model — it’s built around time-sensitive, usually limited-quantity offers.

The LivingSocial website is organized by geographic location, so if you sign up to get their deals, you’ll only receive opportunities for discounts near where you live. Which is great news if you’re looking to try a new restaurant, salon, or family-friendly activity.

Livingsocial Deal Examples

How LivingSocial Works

Even as once “pure” websites like Groupon and Woot! have diversified into direct product and service sales, LivingSocial remains true to the “deal of the day” model. It’s the sole high-profile “deal of the day” website remaining, in fact, though you can shop at an in-house product and travel mall too.

If you’re not familiar with this model, it’s pretty straightforward. LivingSocial’s “product” is basically a discounted gift certificate — or, rather, discounted gift certificates for dozens or hundreds of small businesses in each geographical area it serves.

LivingSocial posts deals on its desktop website and mobile app. If you subscribe to its email list, you can also receive curated deals via a frequent email digest.

In any case, the process of claiming a deal is pretty simple. You just click on the “Buy Now” button (or click through if you’re working with an email), specify the quantity you want, and purchase your voucher(s). If the voucher is for a chain business with multiple locations, there’s a good chance it’s valid at any of them, but you might want to confirm with the location you plan to use in case the franchisee doesn’t want to accept it.

Sounds easy enough, right? Keep reading to learn more about how LivingSocial works and what to expect from its discount vouchers.

Livingsocial Shopping

Key Features of LivingSocial

LivingSocial is a not the most complicated app around. That’s part of its appeal. But if you’re new to the daily deal model, you’ll have a bit of a learning curve nonetheless.

Here’s what you must know about LivingSocial’s deals and other key features before you sign up.

Social Coupons (Vouchers)

LivingSocial’s core product is a social coupon, more often referred to as a voucher or discount voucher. References to “deals of the day” are outdated — vouchers remain available for sale for weeks or even longer, and quantities are usually quite generous.

Each LivingSocial voucher applies to a specific product or service offered by a specific merchant. For example:

  • A discounted conventional or synthetic oil change from Valvoline Instant Oil Change
  • A set dollar amount off your bill at a local restaurant
  • A discounted entry ticket to a family waterpark

Deal Terms

Each voucher’s purchase price is equal to its face value. If you redeem it during the effective period, this is the price you pay for the product or service advertised.

You must purchase your voucher upfront using a credit card or LivingSocial site credit (if available). If you don’t spend more than the voucher specifies at the participating merchant, you don’t have to pay anything out of pocket when you actually buy the product or service. Otherwise, you’ll need to make up the difference at the point of sale.

LivingSocial vouchers generally have some restrictions on what you can and can’t buy with them. For example, a restaurant voucher might exclude alcohol or limited-quantity specials. An oil change voucher might apply only to a basic oil change, rather than other preventive vehicle maintenance services.

Fine Print (Effective Period)

All LivingSocial vouchers come with some boilerplate disclosures and disclaimers.

The most important of these is the effective period — usually 90 days from the date you purchase the voucher.

The fine print should also include more detail about:

  • What is and isn’t included in the deal
  • Services that may cost extra
  • Quantity limits (often two per customer)
  • How frequently you can repurchase the voucher — that is, how long the quantity limits last
  • Whether the offer can be combined with other deals not offered by LivingSocial

The fine print should also include general language about product and service availability and merchant discretion. Again, it’s a best practice to check with the specific merchant and location you plan to redeem the coupon with to confirm they’ll actually accept it.

Paid Value vs. Promotional Value

Every LivingSocial voucher has a paid value and a promotional value.

The paid value is what you pay upfront for the coupon. You can see this amount in the coupon listing.

The promotional value is the difference between the paid value and the advertised cost of the product or service. In effect, it’s the value of the discount you get for using the coupon during the effective period.

If you don’t use the coupon within the effective period, the promotional value expires and you’re no longer entitled to a discount for the advertised product or service. However, the paid value never expires — you can always redeem the voucher at the participating merchant and get a discount equal to the paid value. At least, as long as they remain in business.

Who Owns LivingSocial?

LivingSocial was once an independent company that competed directly with the elephant in the daily deal room — Groupon.

Those days are over. Today, Groupon owns LivingSocial. The two appear to have separate brands and business models, but it’s a mirage; LivingSocial is merely an arm of Groupon.

What does this mean for you, the consumer? It’s not entirely clear. The biggest “risk” could well be that Groupon decides to discontinue the LivingSocial brand at some point and fold its operations into Groupon’s.

But for now, LivingSocial remains its own thing, at least in name.


Livingsocial Deal Examples 2

LivingSocial Deals — Examples

LivingSocial deals change constantly. Still, after you’ve used the app for a while, you’ll start noticing some patterns.

Restaurant deals are really common. So are deals with local home and vehicle service providers, like oil change shops and plumbers. You’ll find plenty of personal services deals on LivingSocial as well: salons, spas, and the like. Family-friendly activities, like apple picking, too.

Oh, and LivingSocial has a pretty extensive selection of items available for direct purchase at steep discounts. You’ll find watches, jewelry, home goods, automotive supplies, and much more here.

Deals vary by location, but here’s an example of the sorts of discounts you can expect in your area:

  • Half off at a holistic health center
  • 60% off select services at a studio salon
  • 60% discount at a vision institute
  • 45% off an oil change with a well-known national provider
  • 70% off your first 4 meal kit deliveries
  • 75% or more off select jewelry

Advantages of LivingSocial

LivingSocial has some important advantages over other discount websites and group buying platforms. The most notable include:

  • Tight Geographical Segmentation. LivingSocial organizes deals by geographic location, generally at the state or metro area level. This way, you don’t have to waste time searching for deals in your area or checking to make sure the offer applies to you. You know that it is going to be something local.
  • Social Sharing Component. LivingSocial makes it easy to share deals you’ve purchased with friends, relatives, and coworkers. They don’t actually get the discount, but they can follow through and purchase a voucher if they’re interested. This comes in handy if and when you encounter deals on things you’d like to share with others.
  • Long Effective Period. LivingSocial deals are generally valid for 90 days, or about three months. If you’re serious about taking advantage of the offer, that should be plenty of time to do so.
  • Paid Value Never Expires. Real value erosion due to inflation notwithstanding, you can’t really “lose” money on a LivingSocial deal. Even if you don’t redeem your voucher before the promotional value expires, the paid value remains forever, so you can always get back what you paid for it.

Disadvantages of LivingSocial

LivingSocial isn’t perfect. Those familiar with Groupon, in particular, might notice some downsides here. The most notable include:

  • Limited Offer Selection. The offers available at LivingSocial are somewhat limited, and it’s entirely possible won’t find anything that appeals to you in your area. Patience is a virtue here, but if you can’t wait, try Groupon.
  • Significant Restrictions on Some Offers. Always read the fine print at LivingSocial, as sometimes the offers you receive are limited to certain locations or can only be applied to specific packages that the business offers. The site says that they offer clear and simple terms, but be sure to review any offer you are thinking about purchasing.
  • Temptation to Overspend. Here at Money Crashers, we want you to spend your money wisely, which means distinguishing between your wants and your needs making it a priority to get out of debt. Discount websites like LivingSocial are great at tempting you to spend more money that you should. They offer you a variety of different discounts and you might think, “That sounds fun…” — even if you’d be better off passing on the deal. If you do use LivingSocial, be sure you’re spending money on things that truly benefit you.

Livingsocial Getaways

How LivingSocial Stacks Up

The “deal of the day” fad has cooled, but survivors like LivingSocial trudge on. Today, there are only a handful of websites and apps that follow this model, and LivingSocial is the only remaining “pure play” of any consequence.

So does that mean LivingSocial stands alone? Not quite. It “competes” with its corporate sibling, the original Groupon app. Here’s how the two compare:

LivingSocialGroupon
Promotional Value Period90 days120 days
Paid Value ExpiresNoNo
Potential DiscountsUp to 80%Variable, but 50%+ is common
Direct Product SalesYesYes

Final Word

At LivingSocial, you never know what you’re going to find. As long as it doesn’t encourage you to spend money on impulse, it can’t hurt.

And LivingSocial is great for “destination” shopping too, especially for seasonal items and experiences. That’s why we recommend keeping LivingSocial in mind when doing your holiday shopping. You may find a deal at a local business that you know a friend or family member may enjoy, and cross one gift off your Christmas shopping list.

Overall, LivingSocial isn’t perfect. But it’s definitely worth a look.

livingsocial logo

Our rating

3.4/5

Pros

  • thumbs-upTight geographical segmentation for better relevance
  • thumbs-upLong promotional period
  • thumbs-upPaid value never expires

Cons

  • thumbs-downLimited offer selection
  • thumbs-downSignificant restrictions on some offers
  • thumbs-downTemptation to overspend
Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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