Saturday, February 12, 2011

An Issue with Groupon's FTD deal... and Just Because they Call it a Deal, Doesn't Mean it Is.

A friend of mine sent me a link to this story, about how users who purchased the FTD deal through Groupon found themselves presented with something different than they may have expected at checkout.  Evidently, prices presented on the FTD link Groupon customers were instructed to use were higher than those presented on the FTD site, itself.  If you read the comments, you'll see a couple of different comments from business owners who state that Groupon sales people basically told them to raise their prices to cover the cost of the Groupon.

A few thoughts on this....

I've said before to check out the the deals you purchase before you purchase them.  If it's not a service or business where you are familiar with the pricing then check out what their regular pricing actually is.  Don't take it at face value that just because Groupon says it's $X, it really is.  I've seen at least one local deal (I can't recall if it was on Groupon or one of the other Daily Deal sites) that I looked at and instantly knew it wasn't worth buying because there was no real DEAL being offered.

If it's a deal that you are taking into a local business or restaurant and it's a true half off deal (ie. $10 for $20 worth of food/goods) you should be ok.  The prices are posted in the store and should not vary just because you have a what should be considered a gift certificate.

The article also references how some business owners have refused to take the Groupon certificates after they've already been sold (because they were overwhelmed by the amount that they saw coming in).  This is again a failure on the part of the salespeople.  There is a certain % that a business should expect to have redeemed.  Groupon has the numbers on how many total and what % of that overall total they will see in the first day or the first week.  Whether these numbers are being misrepresented by Groupon or by the individual sales people in an attempt to increase their sales is the question.  It may take some time for Groupon to learn and to properly train their sales people that honesty will get them more returning customers than dishonesty.

If you do find yourself in a situation where a business owner refuses to take a Groupon (or similar deal) that you've already paid for. Don't hesitate to call Groupon (or whichever company you purchased the deal from).  They want to keep their customers (and their name) intact and will take care of you.  They can afford to lose a few here and there, but if an entire deal crashes and burns and they refuse to take care of it, that would leave major marks that they would not be able to recover from.

So this is your reminder... don't assume it's really a deal just because someone tells you it is.  Even if that someone is me.

Appreciating What You Have: The Cheap Date

Yesterday, I got to thinking about how much my husband and I enjoyed cheap dates when we were young. Back then, it was all we could afford and a big night out was dinner at someplace like Chilis or Applebees.  Those were expensive to us back then.  We regularly went to the dollar movies because often it was all we could afford.  It really didn't matter if it was a movie we really wanted to see and often we saw some of the best movies purely on accident.  So, I decided.  I texted my husband and asked if he wanted to go on a "cheap date" with me.  He said yes.

So what did we do?

We went to Chili's and shared two appetizers.  Cost for dinner? $22 (after tip).  Enjoyment level: Awesome.  Heck, we forgot how much we love their Chips & Queso and their Southwestern Eggrolls. 

After dinner we went and walked around the mall to kill some time.  Granted this particular mall is half empty and it makes it sad and nostalgic since we spent so much time there when we were young. I worked there in 4 different stores, he visited often.  But, it was still fun to just see how much things have changed and to see how our perspectives have changed.  There was a huge sale at JCPenney's... but we looked at the prices and said "that's just too much".  Yes, we could afford it. We could afford it if wasn't on sale.  But, we are cheap

Finally, we headed across the parking lot the dollar theater; the same theater that was a hot place to go 15 years ago when we were dating.  We bought our tickets and headed inside to see Harry Potter.  We haven't been going to movies as much in the last year or so. I think we had gotten fed up with the high prices and then getting inside to have distractions of babies crying, cell phones and people talking.  Why pay so much for something you aren't enjoying.  So, for us to go it had to be something we really wanted to see... or because we were going with friends.  We were finally going to see Harry Potter.  It was ok and we agreed it was worth $1.  The funny thing was that I think that most of the people who were there, paying only $1 were there also because they were fed up with paying high prices and having distractions.  It was probably the quietest I've seen a theater during a movie in a long time.  Once I heard a cell phone go off, and once we heard a guy talking on his cell phone.  However, we both agreed that those both seemed accidental.

In the end, our "cheap date" cost us about $28, for dinner and a movie.  But, I think we enjoyed it more than many of the times we've spent more than twice that much to do the very same thing.  We paid less for both movie tickets and two bottles of water than we normally pay for one movie ticket! 

I think we will be doing this more often.  It's funny how you appreciate things so much more when you aren't doing them all the time.  Suddenly, date night becomes something special again, rather than feeling like you are doing the same ole thing all the time.

You May Be Able to Cut Your Cell Phone Bill by 15%

Many companies have company discounts with the various cell phone providers.  Be sure to check with your employer and find out if yours is one of them.  We found out that my husband's was and just by linking up his work email address with our account it saved us 15%!

For Verizon: Go to their website and click on the "Phones & Devices" tab.  You should see "Employee Discounts" on the far right.