Group Moan?

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Consider this. You buy a Groupon worth $60 for $30 for ‘Hot Crab’ Malay restaurant. Lets assume you go to the extent of grinding through their menu online to confirm that the ‘Satays’ and ‘Kueh Teow Thon’ are reasonably priced. But remember, Groupon parts with only a currency, and there is no guarantee on how much the currency is worth when you exercise your Groupon. The prices on the menu could be very different and you could end up getting lesser value.

Scan through the ‘Yelps’ and the ‘Zagats’ of the world. It is not unusual to come across stories of how close to impossible it is to get an appointment/reservation if you are Groupon laden.

A good example is this cleaning company with the capacity to clean 6 houses a day ending up selling 1008 Groupons! At that rate if I were the last guy to be considered, I would be serviced after 6 months! For all you know I needed a clean house this weekend. Make no mistake, small and medium businesses often find the response overwhelming.

The instances of treating Groupon customers differently is also on the rise. As Groupon negotiates hard with small businesses, margins are wafer thin. Very often establishments deny prime time/real estate to this ‘cattle class’. Disgruntled, despondent Groupon holders who feel like second class citizens are being more emphatic on the social media.

To make matters worse, the promise on the site ‘If you ever feel like Groupon let you down, give us a call and we’ll return your purchase – simple as that.’ Is nowhere close to being straight forward. Groupon does not refund – it credits, which means you are possibly forced to use the currency for something that you hadn’t thought of purchasing even in your wildest dreams.

Don’t get me wrong, consumers find real deals, which is why Groupon clocks $3.5 Million on an average every 3 days (That’s slightly lesser than eBay’s yearly revenue when it went in for an IPO!). But like most technological phenomena, this too has incidental flaws that needs to be corrected.

And now here is a story for Valentines day:

Sam and I were driving back home in his car, and Sam was visibly petrified. His expression was a combination of how you would look like when you are mugged and then when the mugger asks you stay fixed to avoid ‘consequences’ (When he says consequences, you are pretty sure he does not mean a treat at Taco Bell!). I could see Sam’s sweaty hands slipping on the wheel, which is when I thought I should possibly converse to lighten the…well situation.

Me: “So what if you bought a Groupon to the upscale Vietnamese restaurant instead of the reservation you were asked to make at the therapeutic spa? You know..Valentine’s day is not about where you are, its about who you are!” (Authoritatively, with an intense look, animatedly)

Believe me, I have no clue what I meant when I said that last line, but I really couldn’t think of a smarter line.

Sam, was panicking about his wife’s response to his Groupon vs. what she wanted. He had forgotten to grab the deal while it lasted and was left with this Vietnamese thing.

Hoping to see some possible signs of ‘recovery’ I continued:
Me: “Romantic couples massages are passé…but international cuisine is in vogue, trust ME!”

Ha! Trust me? Wish I said that with more conviction! Sam was silent, but his visage was speaking loud.

We drove into his garage and Anne walked out to greet.

After the usual (In this case short lived) niceties through which Sam managed to stay alive.

Anne: “Arun, so Sam and I have booked an appointment for a couples massage at this spa, we are really looking forward to it.”

I smiled innocently and pretended to be elated for Anne and her ‘soon-to-be- slaughtered’ husband.
Sam: “Actually honey……”

I wished I wasn’t sitting bang in between them, you know just so that possible projectiles don’t become the reasons for me being physically challenged for life.
Sam stuttered: “You know I found this fantastic deal on Groupon, $40 worth of Vietnamese gourmet, only for $20.” “Why don’t we do that instead of the …you know…kinda overpriced massage? “

I wanted to give Sam a massage seeing the stress he was undergoing.
Anne: “Did you forget to buy the Groupon yesterday dear?” “Can I have a word with you inside”

Anne walked into the bedroom, following her like a child was Sam.
I was hoping that Sam came out of the irreconcilable ‘Groupon’ war alive.
The incidental implications of some otherwise incredibly innovative ideas sometimes cant be fathomed. Groupon is no exception.

As for Sam, he paid a full price for a therapeutic massage and ended the Valentine’s day with a Vietnamese ‘Groupon’ dinner! Win Win?

Written by Arun Varma

Follow me on Twitter: @varmaarun
Mail me:
Arun is a digital marketing professional who previously worked with Google in India and is currently an MBA student at HULT International Business School in Cambridge. He also is a business quiz enthusiast and has hosted and conceptualized several of them.


7 responses to “Group Moan?

  1. Knock on wood. I haven’t had any of those things happen to me while using Groupons but thanks for the info. I will definitely be more inquisitive about my purchases from that site. I usually use it for food and haven’t has a problems but then I do not know much about the other deals.

  2. how come the price is different to the online price on items? sure they are not giving fair service to their customers.

  3. Also, a Living Social deal issue:

    I’ll admit I probably should have done the research, but I bought whale watching tickets for what they said was half price. then, when i went to the website of the company, not only were they booked for the coming month, but the website offered the same exact price…?!

  4. I sincerely hope you werent a victim! 🙂

    Happy Valentine’s day! 🙂

  5. I hear that Groupon’s Valentines Day flower deal saves you 50% on flowers but sends you to a special page that inflates the prices back. Just another reason to always buy flowers locally and over the phone- I always cut floral middlemen out!

    • Casey:

      I had a similar issue with a Living Social deal a week ago…couldn’t deliver my flowers till 3/10! Uh, you think my wife would be cool with me saying…well they will be here on 3/10.

      Cheers, equalman

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