Groupon uses the power of group purchasing to offer a daily deal on something fun to do in various cities across the country.
The company launched in November 2008 in Chicago as a project of The Point, an online community for organizing group action.
How Does Groupon Work?
Groupon is able to negotiate deals with businesses that are only possible by guaranteeing a certain volume of sales. Groupon members get the day's deal only if the specified number of people sign up that day.
The deals can include deep discounts at restaurants, concerts, events, lessons, tours, spas, salons, retail shops, and more.
How Do I Join Groupon?
To join visit Groupon.com and register. Registration requires that you fill out a form with your real name, email account and password. You will then receive an email verification which you will need to click on in order to activate your account.
Once you have registered, you can check daily to see what the deal is for your city. You can also receive daily email alerts.
If the deal is something you are interested in purchasing, you click the "BUY" button before the offer ends at midnight. You will, at that time, give your credit card information, however unless enough people sign up for the same deal, your credit card will not be charged. Your card is charged only if the deal goes through. At that point you will receive an email with a link to print your (coupon) Groupon.
Do I Have to Solicit Friends to Join?
No. All that is required for you to get the daily deal is that enough Groupon members agree to purchase the same offer. If it is something you think your friends would be interested in then you can always tell them about the site, but it is not required that you get anyone else to join.
If you do recommend the site to friends, there is a way to earn referral points if they sign up and purchase Groupons.
What About Refunds?
Groupon has a very liberal refund policy. Customer satisfaction appears to be a top priority for the company. They have what they call the The Groupon Promise which states: "If Groupon ever lets you down, we’ll return your purchase—simple as that."
They also offer an active forum for people to comment on their experiences; good or bad.
What are the Participating Cities?
The city list seems to grow monthly, so you can always check the site for the current list city list.
What are the Cons to Joining Groupons?
Groupons is a great site for people who like to get out and do things, but if you tend to make a lot of plans that you end up canceling, it might not be a great choice. However, even if you do lean towards making plans you do not keep and you buy a Groupon that expires, not all is lost. You may still redeem it at the price you paid for the length of time the gift certificate laws in your state require. So in other words, you might buy a Groupon that expires in 60 days, but if your state laws require that gift certificates be redeemed within two years, you can still redeem the Groupon for the amount you paid up to the two years. You do not get full value, but you do not lose all of your money.
Site Timing Out
There has been mention that people were unable to get through on the site in time to buy a Groupon that they wanted. Either the Groupon site timed out or the visitors had problems with their servers. Groupon has a support department to help if this problem occurs, but once the time to sign up for a deal ends, there is nothing Groupon can do to help. It is recommended that people email the Groupon support department quickly if they are experiencing connection problems.
Limited Number of Participating Cities
All in all the site has grown quickly since 2008 and seems to be adding additional cities almost monthly. There is information on the site for people interested in cultivating the service in their cities.
Groupons seems like a great way to save on entertainment costs. It has grown relatively quickly, yet has maintained its good standards. The site is engaging and easy to navigate. Questions are answered quickly on the forums. It is a creative way to help people save on fun things to do.