Has Groupon Lost Its Appeal?

Oh, Groupon! I used to be a huge fan. Now, I rarely read a deal, much less do any shopping through your site. What are some of my pet peeves? Glad you asked. Here are the top 3 issues that I’ve had with this site over the past couple of years. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Bait and Switch

Old Navy ticked off a massive number of customers in 2010 by running their Groupon just before “Tax Free Weekend”. Then, the actual delivery of the Groupons was delayed a full two days until after the weekend passed. Technically, Groupon’s fine print does state that deals may take up to 48 hours to process. It’s just that customers didn’t expect this would actually happen since most coupons can be printed off within a couple of hours of purchase. The message board was swamped with angry customers asking when they would get their Groupon. They really needed to know since the only reason they bought it was to get their kids some much-needed school clothing.

The suspicious timing of the delay made people assume the worst – that Old Navy was deliberately dragging its heels to ensure customers couldn’t take maximize their savings. As so often happens, a deal offered by a big company with little sense of accountability to individual consumers went sour. I probably won’t be participating in a Groupon deal for a non-local business again.

Too Many Customers, Too Little Time

Large corporations aren’t the only ones who can run into trouble using Groupon. One issue with smaller businesses is that they may be unprepared to handle the volume of customers they attract with a great deal. I’ve seen this happen with local spas offering cosmetic services. Customers get put on a 3 month waiting list before they can even get an appointment. That’s not popular with the instant gratification crowd.

You’re more likely to get immediate satisfaction with a business that’s set up to serve many people at once. For example, the Fort Worth Botanical Garden ran a Groupon deal in 2011 with huge success. As a local non-profit with the ability to host thousands of visitors per day, they were the ideal Groupon user. I’ve enjoyed my membership immensely – especially since it’s valid for entry to the Dallas Arboretum as well.

Not So Special Anymore

The #1 thing I used to enjoy about Groupon was the fact that they delivered just ONE highly targeted deal to my inbox per day. Now, every deal has half a dozen side deals. Then, there are the Groupon GetAway deals and a whole website full of additional Groupon “Deals on Demand”. I’m not saying these aren’t good offers. I’m just saying that the experience has now changed. I feel overwhelmed with options (a common problem with being plugged in to our information-saturated culture). When I get overloaded, I’m much less likely to see a deal as special enough to purchase.

Tags: Shopping