What to look out for when buying deals from sites like Groupon and LivingSocial.
What are group buying sites?
Group buying sites offer consumers goods or services at a discounted price after the minimum number of buyers have been met. These deals or coupon vouchers are usually only available for a limited amount of time and often expire when the offer is sold out or the time limit expires.
Customers usually receive the coupon after payment through their email or social media accounts. They then present a print out or barcode at the establishment of choice to enjoy their discounted deal.
Group buying websites are a great way to explore a new place or try a new restaurant and activity at discounted rates. You can even explore your own neighbourhood or country with offers around your area.
What do group buying sites sell?
Group buying sites can offer discount deals or vouchers for a variety of goods, experiences and services. You can enjoy savings for everything: from a spa session to a holiday getaway and meals at fine dining restaurants.
What are the best group buying sites in Australia?
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These top five group buying sites are particularly useful to bag a great deal while shopping online. Check out their daily deals for food, services, activities and more.
Best for electronics:
How do group buying sites work?
Group buying sites liaise with merchants and service providers for better prices in exchange for a higher number of guaranteed purchases.
In most cases, a voucher or deal will only be available if the minimum number of purchases has been met. Consumers can browse through sites like Groupon and LivingSocial to find the hottest daily deals.
Membership (free) is compulsory with most sites and secure payment gateways are provided for peace of mind when purchasing. A voucher is then emailed to you to be printed off and use at the merchant or service provider.
Are group buying sites worth it?
Group buying sites are a great way to explore your local area or to try out a new restaurant, service or to purchase goods at bargain prices. That being said, there have been complaints of poor service and goods running out due to the establishment’s inability to handle the increased number of purchases.
If you are looking to buy a deal, it is advised that you do your research. Below we’ve outlined a couple of tips to make sure you have the best group buying site experience as possible.
What should I look out for in group buying sites?
If you are looking to jump on the group buying bandwagon, here are few things to look out for before making your first deal purchase.
- Choose a reputable group buying site. Check to see if there are recent deals and how often they offer new ones. If the deals are stale, steer clear!
- Read reviews by other customers. Some sites look like they’re offering a good deal, but in fact it’s not as fab as all that. Research the actual merchant to make sure they’re reputable and look out for a sound refund policy and buyer protection to help ensure peace of mind.
How can I protect myself when buying from group buying sites?
When purchasing from a group buying site, there are several things to look out for:
- Read the fine print. Before making your purchase, be sure to read up on the redemption period, time and location of your product or service. Some vouchers can only be redeemed at a specific location/branch at a certain time. Restaurants or beauty and spa locations may require you to make a prior appointment.
- Voucher purchase limitations. There are generally two types of voucher limitations:
- Unlimited purchase and unlimited redemption by one person. You may purchase as many vouchers or deals as you want and redeem them within the redemption period.
- Unlimited purchase and limited to one redemption per person. You may purchase as many vouchers or deals as you want but you can only redeem one of them. So bring your family and friends!
- Refund policy. Some group buying sites offer refunds should you change your mind while others do not. LivingSocial allows for full refunds on unredeemed vouchers within two-days of purchase. It also allows for exchange an expired voucher for credit. Groupon has a cooling off period of 7 days for all unused coupons and travel deals. Scoopon Travel Guarantee will issue a full refund or store credit should you be unable to secure your preferred travel, accommodation and flight dates within 14 days of voucher purchase.
How do group buying sites make money?
Group buying sites have huge databases and understand the buying behaviour of localised markets. In exchange for this information, they make money by driving traffic to their merchant sites who are prepared to offer a discount in exchange for guaranteed purchase.
Group buying sites handle the marketing and payment aspects of the deal while the merchants take care of fulfilment. They may take a percentage of the discounted price which the merchants are offering on the product or service.
What is the ACCC code of conduct around group buying sites?
The ACCC group buying code of conduct is a response to the public outcry of disgruntled group buying shoppers. The code outlines the best practices for group buying platforms which includes the following:
- The site must ensure that an offer is presented accurately and in clear, easy-to-read language
- The site must offer clear refund policies
- The site must offer clear details on how to contact the group buying site in the event of a complaint or query
- The site may only send offers to customers who gave their consent with opt-out facility
What should I do if something goes wrong?
Should a deal purchase go awry, try to resolve the issue with the merchant. If the merchant is uncooperative, seek help from the group buying site.
The refund policy and contact details should be clearly stated and accessible from the group buying site. Usually, a full refund or credit will be issued if you are dissatisfied with the experience.
If all these are not possible, consider making a consumer complaint to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission or taking legal action.