About a month ago I chatted to Peter Godfrey on FiveAA about group buying. Have you noticed how many group buying sites there are at the moment? It seems like you can buy practically anything at a bargain basement cut down price if you look hard enough and jump on the deal when it appears.
Of course, I’m preoccupied with food, so I focus on the restaurant deals.
But buying blind like this is fraught with danger and some, like Rachel over at The Food Sage, might choose to avoid these deals altogether. However, if you like to save money and live dangerously read on for my top tips!
1. Check out how many people have bought the deal. 300 people have bought a meal in a tiny restaurant with just 3 months to use the deal? GIVE IT A MISS! Many businesses have been stung by more people taking up the deal than expected and naturally your experience will suffer. You’ll find it more difficult to book a table and when you do turn up you might find portion sizes smaller or your meal rushed. I wait until the day the deal closes to buy: that way I have a really good idea of how many people have bought the deal.
2. Check out online reviews of the restaurant before buying. If it’s being panned on sites like UrbanSpoon or TripAdvisor (or Twitter or Facebook …) you might need to adjust those expectations even further … or you might choose to skip the deal altogether. The trick with using reviews on the internet is not to place too much weight on any one review or site – people have unrealistic expectations, restaurants have off nights so use some commonsense.
3. Book early! Yes – you might have six months to use your voucher but do you really want to be jockeying for a reservation in the last week when everyone has realised the voucher is about to expire? If you book early you’re much more likely to remember to use the voucher and the restaurant is less likely to be over the whole experience.
4. Don’t buy another voucher until you’ve used the last one. This way you don’t have them expiring on you. Some sites will issue an email reminder that your voucher is about to expire but not all do. Often these deals are sold to restaurants on the basis that a large percentage of customers won’t use the voucher. Do you really want to be giving away your money for nothing?
5. Finally – have reasonable expectations. Restaurants participate in group buying in order to boost both business and exposure but that doesn’t mean you’ll be getting a bottle of Penfolds Grange as your included wine!
And of course – enjoy your meal!
Leave a comment to let us all know about your experiences – good and bad!