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5 Questions to Ask Before Buying From Daily Deal Websites


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It seems like every day there’s a new daily deal website devoted to getting you deep discounts on products and services. From Groupon to LivingSocial, daily deal websites can flood your inbox with deal notifications every morning. Since the deals are constantly changing, it’s exciting to see what’s up for grabs – but is all of that wheeling and dealing really worth it?

While group deal and daily sale companies can help you save money on the essentials, if you’re not careful, you could end up spending more on the products and services you don’t need. While weighing the pros of getting a good deal against the cons, there are five questions you must ask yourself.

What to Consider Before Purchasing From Daily Deal Websites

1. Are You Really Getting the Best Deal?
Daily deals and group discounts are offered similarly to how group admission is offered at a theme park: Since more people buy in, the company stands to make more profit and can offer a deeper discount. Furthermore, by offering a deal for a limited time, it seems more appealing.

While this can make snagging a deal exhilarating, don’t let the thrill of the hunt stop you from doing your research. In some cases, you might be able to get a similar or superior deal on products and services without having to use a daily deal website. Search online for coupons or deeper discounts elsewhere, and don’t forget to compare the fine print. For example, if you can save $10 relative to a discount at a competitor’s site, but can’t use the cheaper deal on weekends, is it still the better bargain?

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2. What Is the Total Cost?
In the summer, I purchased a group deal for a local zip-lining course. I paid $30 for an hour or two of zip-lining complete with a guided tour, which I thought was a great deal. My sister-in-law and I headed up to a picturesque mountain setting and loved our experience on the zip-lines – and then it came time to tip our guides. We paid them $10 each, which drove up the cost of the trip to $50. Of course, I don’t mind tipping for a job well done, and our guides were excellent. However, it’s important that you plan for the entire cost of the deal you purchase. Tips for services rendered bump up the cost, as do shipping fees for products purchased.

3. Are You Buying Wants or Needs?
I’ll admit that trying something new and supporting a local business was pretty gratifying when I went zip-lining. But before you make your purchase, decide whether it’s something you really need, or merely something you want. There’s nothing wrong with buying something you want now and then, just make sure you can afford it. Better yet, budget for it.

Having notifications for discounted products and services emailed directly to you every morning can seriously tempt you to make multiple impulse purchases. If you find it difficult to resist the urge to buy spontaneously, it might be best to unsubscribe and only check your favorite daily deal sites intermittently, so you don’t find yourself spending over budget on a new set of silverware or a trip to your local rock climbing gym.

Factors Consider Before Purchase

4. Will There Be Ongoing Costs?
Group deals might help you find a new dentist or your new favorite cupcake place, but you must remember that these deals are usually a one-time thing. While you might get a great discount on teeth whitening, don’t expect special treatment when you make your next appointment. Without another voucher, your price is likely to go up, and this can give you pause when purchasing a product or service that you expect to use more than once. If you’re just testing the waters, a discounted service can be very helpful. However, if you’re looking for the best deal for a product or service on a long-term basis, you might be better off doing your own research and finding the best price without a special discount.

5. What Are the Terms and Conditions?
It’s important that you read through a retailer’s terms and conditions before you purchase an online deal. Often, there are many conditions, expiration dates, and exceptions that could throw your plans out of whack. For instance, if you buy a voucher for a massage that is only valid until the end of the month, you could easily let it expire before you ever get a chance to use it. Many daily deal companies offer a refund for expired, unredeemed vouchers, but it’s important that you know exactly what you’re getting into prior to making the purchase.

Final Word

I love daily deals. I’m a member of three different deal sites, and I enjoy browsing to see what’s new and getting excellent deals on items I need. But I also know that just because something calls itself a deal, it doesn’t mean that it really is – no matter how many other people have already purchased it. In fact, what could be a great deal for someone else, could be a bad deal for you if it’s unnecessary or has terms and conditions that make it difficult or more expensive to redeem. Do your homework before you buy, and avoid making instant decisions on daily deal purchases. And if you miss a deal, don’t sweat it. Chances are it or something similar will come around again soon.

Do you use daily deal websites? What has been your best purchase so far?


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Jacqueline Curtis writes about edtech, finance, marketing, and small business strategy. With over 14 years of copywriting experience, she's created content and scripting for organizations such as GE, Walgreens, Overstock, and MasterCard. She lives in Utah with her husband, three kids, and an overzealous springer spaniel named Penelope.