The down side to daily deal sites - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Deals

The down side to daily deal sites

Daily-deal websites are only as good as their local merchant partners.

What happened with Nikki Coley, Hammer Photography and Groupon is proof those partners aren't always accountable, and daily-deal sites don't always have control of their partnerships.

"You should not assume that they've done all the due diligence that is necessary to be sure that you're getting a good deal and that the merchant is going to deliver the deal that you're paying for," said Randy Hutchinson, president of the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South.

"All of a sudden, they're swamped with requests for product they don't have or appointments they don't have enough time for," Hutchinson added.

The Better Business Bureau's advice on daily-deal sites:

  • Check out the daily-deals site with the BBB.
  • Check out the merchant offering the deal with the BBB.
  • Read the fine print on offers to understand any limitations.
  • Check with the merchant to be sure it can accommodate a higher volume of business -- does it have enough product or available appointments?
  • Be prepared for a delay in getting an appointment or the product. 
  • Know the refund policies of both the daily-deals site and the merchant.
  • Pay with a credit card so that you'll have some recourse if something goes wrong.

Groupon's Julie Mossler offered this advice for Groupon's customers:

  • Examine the fine print. "We clearly list out any restrictions or pertinent information for each one of our deals," Mossler said.
  • Have reasonable expectations. "Remember that the merchant is discounting their service to win you as a customer, so as a courtesy it's best to be patient as you may need to wait a few weeks to book an appointment given the influx of new customers," she said.
  • Read the return policy. "We have The Groupon Promise, which states that if the experience using your Groupon ever lets you down, we'll make it right or return your purchase."

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