Group-buying for beginners

A frequent group-buying website coupon purchaser, Drew shares his learnings.

Group-buying for beginners

Everyone loves a bargain, but only a portion of all group-buying sales result in happy customers. Many group-buying websites suggest businesses set the number of coupons for sale to either be unlimited, or to a number that results in customers waiting weeks, even months, to redeem their purchase.

There are many negatives to buying from group-buying websites, but the positives of a good half-priced meal or being able to treat yourself to an affordable spa and massage treatment every couple of months well outweigh the negatives, as long as you know how to fast-track the process.

Group-buying: Food
Reading the terms and conditions is vital for purchasing any restaurant experience on a group-buying website as the company will severely limit when the coupons are redeemable. It is important to get in first for these types of deals and to book immediately upon successful purchase. I once made the mistake of purchasing a deal as the 124th buyer. Due to the website not updating the availability of days, I had to wait over three weeks to redeem my coupon for what was otherwise a lovely dinner with friends. It is important to note that I have purchased two restaurant deals since this experience and through early bookings, was able to get the days I wanted and couldn’t speak more highly of the food we ate.

Group-buying: Experience
From time-to-time you will find group-buying websites selling experiences such as hot-air balloon rides, fast laps in a V8 car and other adventures, but these experiences fill up quickly with limited places on offer each day. My latest group-buying mistake came about two months ago when purchasing an experience for my friend and I, which I held onto for two weeks and gave as a birthday present. By the time we went to book the experience, it was well over two months before we could redeem the voucher due to the business over-selling the product. Luckily, the dates offered to us were outside of the terms and conditions of the deal and after several emails, I was fully refunded the price paid for the deal. My experience simply reinforces the importance of booking as soon as you purchase a deal.

Group-buying: Product
Buying products that you have never seen or touched before is a risky business online, especially if it is a piece of clothing. All the negatives aside, I have only had one bad experience when buying products from group-buying websites and it was my own fault. Depending on the make of the shoe, my feet are half-way between a 10.5 and an 11US and instead of going into my local retailer to see if I was a size 10.5 or 11, I risked it with my normal 10.5 size which was just a little too small. I have purchased several electronic devices previously through group-buying as well as pieces of clothing and have saved hundreds of dollars in the process.

Other deals
While it isn’t a group-buying website, the Entertainment Book is stacked full of deals from hundreds of restaurants in your city, saving you up to 50 per cent off every meal! I use mine at least once a week.

Top Australian group-buying websites

Have you had issues with group-buying websites? What are your tricks to hassle-free use of these offers?

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    To make a comment, please register or login
    12th Jun 2013
    I have been the beneficiary of quite a few bulk buys. Had a problem with one, in the early days. Booked a dinner for 2 at a restaurant on the river on the Gold Coast. Trouble was that a new owner had taken over and was being inundated with people who had taken up the offer. He offered to honour the deal, but the times available did not suit us, so we applied for a refund, which was happily made by groupon or whichever one it was. The difficulty for us with dining vouchers is that they are in capital cities and we live on the mid north coast. We do holiday a fair bit, but you need to have firm plans to make use of the vouchers...they aren't always available on the days you want.

    6th May 2015
    I have always had doubts about group buying or online purchase for that matter as the terms and conditions are rather vague. It gets really difficult to grasp the authenticity of the offer which often seems too good to be true. Therefore, I would prefer to get readily available items or those from physical stores which are direct and straightforward.

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