This is a quick course in group buying.
First, the basics, then my opinion about
each of the listed sites.
Groupon and its
Rue La La, etc.) are now a huge
on-line presence. The idea is that a
merchant will offer a deeply discounted
price on something if enough people
sign up for it. There is rarely a question of
getting enough people, and almost every deal
works. Or a site will offer a line of high-end
products, usually clothing, for a set time of
2-3 days - the early bird gets the worm. As
everyone jumps on the group buying bandwagon, there are some fine
points to consider:
* Before you buy a
or any other voucher for $20 off $40, let’s
say, be sure you visit the merchant
website where you’ll be spending that
$40 and make sure there is something you
specifically want. Some of the merchants
featured are small and relatively unknown.
You might think that buying a $50 voucher
for a shoe site, for example, would insure
that you can get a pair of shoes for $50.
But if you check the site, you might be
surprised to find that every shoe is over
$100. Do your homework first, and make sure
that you’ll be happy when you redeem your
voucher. Most are good-to-great deals, but
don’t have buyer's remorse after
purchasing because you didn’t check it out
first. Take your time. Most vouchers are
available for purchase for 1-2 days.
* Is free shipping included?
Sometimes the offer includes the stipulation
- the item will ship free (the best
- you can pay for the
shipping with part of the voucher (good), or
- standard shipping rates apply (not so
good). If it’s the latter, check to see what
standard shipping rates are.
Some sites have
high shipping; I think they make up for
the discounts by overcharging on shipping.
Calculate the shipping cost as part of your
out-of-pocket expense to see if it’s still a
* Check how long the deal is good for.
Most vouchers are good for a year, but some
are as short-dated as a month or two. Be sure you
can use the voucher in the time period.
* Sometimes the good deal isn’t so good
because you have to spend at least
the amount of the voucher to use it. I
spent $10 to get a $20 voucher to a
children’s toy site. I wanted a $19.99 toy.
The system wouldn’t take my voucher until I
hit the $20 mark. Unfortunately, the
cheapest toy to get me over the hurdle was
$7.95, plus I had to pay shipping. Had I
known, I wouldn’t have bought the voucher.
Currently, it is rarely listed in the
fine print of any deal that you have to
spend at least the face value of the
voucher. If you are unhappy, you can go back
to Groupon and request a refund of your
original $10 and simply not do the deal. The
sites I found so far, that require you to
spend the whole amount to use it, are Knork,
No Slippy Clippy, and ImagiPLAY. There will
* Vouchers must be used in one
transaction. Balances are not carried. What
you don't use, you lose.
* Keep informed. All the sites have an
email sign-up for a daily update of what is
offered. The emails are an easy way to take a
quick look without having to log in. If it's
something that interests you, click through the
email to read the details of the deal. Most
deals are offered for 1-2 days.
* Vouchers are available at the
group-buying website after purchasing. When
you buy a Groupon voucher, you pay for it with a
credit card. The money goes to Groupon. In a day
or two, the voucher will appear in your account
at Groupon. You print it and take it to the
local business where it is accepted like cash.
If it's for an on-line merchant, there will be a
code on the voucher that you enter on-line as
you check out. The business actually only gets
about half of the voucher. For example, if you
pay $10 for a $20 voucher for a restaurant, the
restaurant gets half the money you paid, $5. The
other $5 goes to the group buying site. You
might think it's not fair that the restaurant
only gets $5 but gives you $20 in food. Keep in
mind that this is a very effective means of
advertising and a way to get new customers.
Merchants are happy to participate, and hope
you'll be back to pay full price the next time.
* Refer your friends and family.
Almost every group buying site has a referral
credit which you receive for sending someone
to the site who buys something. The referral
fee is generally $5 - $10 in credit. To get
it, you’ll need to register first for your
own account, then click on ‘refer a friend’.
Copy the special URL that is yours alone.
Email it to friends with your recommendation.
Post it on your Facebook page. Tweet it. You don’t need to worry that Groupon is a lemon or a scam. It’s such a
huge success that it is valued at $2.5
billion. It will be around for many years to
come. When someone buys something, you’ll
see $5 or $10 in your account. Then when you buy
something, that $5 or $10 will be deducted from
the price you pay.
* There are often sign-up bonuses
when you first register at a site. Those may
eventually disappear as the sites no longer
need word-of-mouth. If you haven't joined
these, it's worth doing now for the best
chance of getting a free sign-up bonus:
NoMoreRack.com The bonus will be applied to
your first purchase.
I will continue to post what I consider
the best deals from the group buying sites,
but everyone should explore their own
city deals. Most of the
Groupon deals are specific to location. Some
are on-line. Everyone can do
on-line deals no matter where you live.
Here is a rundown of the various sites:
is the granddaddy of the group buying sites.
It is very professionally run. If you ever have
a problem with any Groupon voucher, they will
make it right. There are plenty of cities listed
in every state. Most of the Groupon deals are
local. Restaurant certificates are generally
offered at half face value, so you get $30 in
buying power for $15. Some deals are nationwide,
like the Gap offer last year. If you find an
on-line deal offered in a different city, the
location doesn't matter, all can do it. Some of
the popular on-line deals so far have been from
Picaboo, ScanDigital, ColdwaterCreek, American
Apparel, and many others. Most Groupon deals are
offered as the featured deal for one day. Then
they often rotate to a 'side deal' in the right
column, and may stay there another 2-3 days.
Groupon gives a $10 referral credit when you
send others who buy something.
find additional cities at
Groupon, log in. Your own city
name will appear in the upper middle green area.
Next to the name is a small white down arrow.
Click that arrow to find a state directory, then
There are sites that have sprung up that track
Groupon deals and will alert you each morning to
the long list by city. Google "Groupon Alerts".
Eversave features mostly on-line deals from
smaller merchants. There are lots of vouchers
for jewelry, clothing, makeup, home accessories,
florists, photobooks, purses, etc. Most vouchers
give double the selling price, like a $50
voucher for $25. Often the website merchants
featured on Eversave are innovative and
creative. They offer unique items not widely
available elsewhere. It's worth a daily look.
You can sign up for a daily email geared to your
city. Eversave offers a $12 referral fee when
you send someone who purchases a voucher. After
you register, click on "Share Eversave with your
Friends" in the top right column of the home
page to get your unique URL.
Living Social offers a mix of on-line
and local deals. It's similar to Groupon. To
find additional deals, click on the "More Deals"
tab in the left column, then scroll down.
Living Social offers a $5 referral
reward when someone uses your link. Click on "My
account", then on "Deal Bucks", then on "Invite
More friends" to get your unique URL.
CityDeals offers almost all local deals
for various parts of the country. There are tabs
for Restaurants, Entertainment, Spa & Salons,
Services, Hotel & Travel, Retail. Enter your
town and a radius in miles. All the available
deals will appear on a list, often over 100 of
them. But as you go down the list, you'll see
that some are not available. If there is one you
want, you can request an email be sent to you
when it becomes available. This site takes a lot
of exploring to see what's there. There are
pages and pages of deals. Most are 50% discounts
at local merchants, fast food, restaurants,
Mamapedia is geared to mothers. The
first time you visit
Mamapedia, click on the "Sweet Deals" at
the top of the page. Most deals are 50% off and
feature children's clothes and toys,
eco-friendly green items, mom-type products,
etc. The majority of deals are on-line so
location isn't important. You can choose a local
school to get a 1% bonus from your purchases.
Invite friends and earn $10 per referral.
Plum District is very similar to
MamaPedia. Most of the offerings are 50% off,
and are geared to mothers and children,
specially children's clothes and toys. If you
have young children or school age children, this
site will be of interest to you. Websites
featured are smaller specialty websites. It is
broken down by regions, but the first choice is
"Everywhere". PlumDistrict offers a $10
TheMiniSocial is also geared to mom,
baby, and child. It's a little different format.
Instead of offering a single voucher per day, it
offers discounted products for 3-4 days. The
products come from various high-end designers
and are greatly reduced in price. Most are
children and baby clothing. Invite friends and
get a $10 credit when someone buys something.
Shipping is a flat $6.95. The products do
sell out so it's worth checking often.
has the same format at TheMiniSocial. The
children and baby clothing lines change every
2-3 days. You have a short window to buy, and
some of the items do sell out. All items are
from upscale designers. Shipping starts at $5.95
and goes up about a $1 for each additional item
purchased. You can invite friends with your
special URL, and you will get $15 in credit when
someone buys something. The credit is used for
your own orders and can be applied to shipping.
Zulily merchandise is high quality.
NoMoreRack.com has a unique
format. Each day at noon Eastern time, 8 deals
are posted. They are deeply discounted. Some
sell out in a matter of minutes, others last the
full day. Once you put an item in your cart, you
only have 15 minutes to check out and pay. If
not, the item goes back up for sale. You can
sign up for a daily email that gives you a ten
minute heads up before the deals go live. You
get a $10 off $20 credit for signing up, and
NoMoreRack has contests offering prizes for
referring friends, even if they don't buy
anything. All the friend has to do is register.
FamilyFinds focuses on family deals,
children's clothes, family oriented activities
and services, both local and on-line deals. You
get $10 in credit for every person who signs up
and buys. I'm still getting a feel for this
RueLaLa is geared to the younger crowd. The
designer lines offered change daily. Categories
are: Women, Men, Home, Travel, Food & Wine.
There is a $10 store credit reward for referring
someone who buys something.
Gilt categories are: Women, Men, Home,
Children, Gifts, Jetsetter, City. The site is
designed to look upscale and is more expensive
than others. Deals last a few days. Gilt Invite
10 friends and get free shipping on your next
order (ho hum)
HomeSav specializes with items for the home.