Home' LAPTOP Magazine : April 2011 Contents deal hitting the tipping point.
Another difference is that users have to
buy the Groupon value up front, instead
of just getting the discount when they
redeem the coupon. Essentially, you're
prepaying for whatever goods and ser-
vices the coupon offers. The benefit is
that this allows businesses to offer very
deep discounts. However, every Groupon
has an expiration date, just like regular
coupons. Even though you prepay, if you
don't redeem before the coupon expires,
you're out of that money.
GETTING THE BEST DEALS
The first step toward getting great deals
from Groupon is to sign up. Anyone can
see the latest deals for their area on
the website, but in order to purchase a
Groupon, you'll need an account. Users
can also sign up without buying anything.
The site will only ask for your credit card
information when you decide to purchase
a deal. Once you sign up, you can opt
to receive daily e-mails with local deals,
coupon alerts from specific stores, and
notifications when your coupons are
about to expire.
After signing in, head to your account
profile to set up your e-mail preferences.
You can get daily deal alerts for about 200
cities in the U.S. in addition to more than
25 countries around the globe. Of course,
the deals that will be the most relevant
to you are those in your city. Most of the
deals on Groupon are for local businesses,
but users will also get alerts for coupons
from regional or national chains in their
area, as well as from online stores.
Recently, Groupon introduced a way
for users to further personalize their deals
by providing some basic demographic
information---gender, age, and zip code.
Based on this data, the company tailors
its deal e-mails and deal pages to show
only those coupons most relevant to you.
Users will be able to see the featured deal
of the day, but those who've personalized
Groupon won't see the full roster of deals
available for their home city.
Groupon claims that most people
won't miss out on a deal they would
have wanted by entering the personaliza-
tion information. However, if you're just
starting out with Groupon, you should
hold off on entering this data until you
get a sense of what kinds of deals and
merchants are available.
You can also keep track of
local deals via social networks.
There's a separate Groupon Twitter
account or Facebook page for each
city; these accounts post deals and
handle some customer service issues.
To find the account for your city, go
to the Groupon home page and make
sure your city name shows up under the
Featured Deal tab. Scroll to the bottom
and look for the Follow Us box on the
right side of the footer. The links behind
the Facebook, Twitter, and RSS icons will
change based on the city.
It's easy to take
on your smart
phone by using
apps for Android,
useful for keep-
ing track of the
coupons you've al-
for instance, expiration alerts let you
know how much time you have until your
Groupons expire. The apps also make it
easy to find Groupons near you. Under My
Groupons, click the Nearby tab to see if
you have coupons for nearby businesses.
You can view available deals as a list or
on a map (driven by Google Maps).
With these apps, users don't need to
print out their Groupons before redeem-
ing them. Just show the merchant the
Groupon bar code right from the app.
Groupon's stated commitment to customer
satisfaction is refreshing. The Groupon
Promise, found on the sidebar of most
pages on the site, states that "If you ever
feel like Groupon let you down, give us
a call and we'll return your purchase..."
However, that doesn't mean that all users
will be satisfied. After all, there are two
parties involved in every transaction:
Groupon and the merchant.
In the company's short history, there
have been incidents where merchants
were unprepared for the popularity of a
deal and had a hard time fulfilling it. Plus,
there are several reports on Groupon's
Facebook discussion boards of coupons
offered by businesses that don't exist or
shut down for no reason, with no help from
Groupon's support line.
Most of these complaints come from
overseas, where the company is just
starting to grow. It does underline that
users should be careful, especially when
taking advantage of a highly desirable
deal. If you're a bit wary, verify the de-
tails with the merchant before buying
Barring a problem with the merchant
or deal, Groupons aren't refundable. Also
keep in mind that if a Groupon expires,
your money is lost. Still, if you remember
these tips, you can score the best deals
without getting burned.
By sharing Groupon deals with your
friends via Facebook, Twitter, or other
social networks, you increase the chances
of a deal hitting the tipping point.
LAPTOP | April 2011
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