It was announced today that the Office of Fair Trading are to investigate Groupon over claims that they have mis-advertised some deals. We’ve just completed a survey of over 1,000 users of daily deals [more about this in future blog posts], and we found that, out of over 400 users who had recently purchased a Groupon deal, only 4% reported that “the product or service was disappointing or not as promised”. That’s 96% who had no issue with the description provided by Groupon.
Of course, it is always really important to read the fine print on daily deals to avoid disappointment, and we would not like to pre-empt the result of the OFT investigation, but we are very happy if this investigation leads to all daily deals providers being a bit more careful with their claims.
As a reminder, if you do have any problem with a daily deal, make sure you take up the problem with the daily deal website. We at Buyometric can help our users with this, if you’re having any trouble. We send hundreds of transactions to Groupon every week, and we’ve found Groupon customer service to be particularly good at rectifying issues with customers if anything goes wrong with a deal. But we’re also here to help you through your issue and take up your cause if necessary. Hopefully a bit more reassurance for our users.
We’ve moved! Over the last week we’ve been settling in to our new office in London Bridge. We are just over the moon to have a place that’s all ours where we can work together with no distractions.
So here we are – Andy on the left, Paul in the middle and me (Helen) on the end – hard at work (of course), snapped by our new neighbour and landlord (and since Friday night’s drinks, our new best friend) Luc from Liberty Resourcing, the company in the office upstairs.
London Bridge is a great location to be in – we’re about 30 seconds walk away from Borough Market and can almost smell the gourmet food on offer if we lean out of one of the windows. Watch out for future photos in which we all gain significant weight.
To make the office more comfortable, Andy and Paul went on a trip to a cool social enterprise place called First Fruit Warehousing in East London (near the Thames Barrier) to get all the office furniture – all of which is re-used. (Isn’t it great when you can be bargain-hunters AND environmentally friendly at the same time!). Paul completed the look with some £1.50 lamps from the Ikea sale, and Andy added a coffee machine and biscuit tin (not visible in the photo) and our Buyometric office was fit for purpose.
Being together in one place has lifted us to a state of constant creativity and collaboration – it’s heaven! Although Paul and I are having to get used to Andy’s special talent for creating mess – it seems he needs at least 2 desks just to spread his stuff over. Ah well, some you win, some you lose.
And now we’ve got the space to expand, we’re thinking about taking on new members of the team. Watch this space.
On Bank Holiday Monday I used a Groupon voucher advertised on Buyometric (see, we do practise what we preach!) for a cheap trip (or so I thought!) to the Grand Designs Live 2011 exhibition at ExCel in London, with a great discount – £15 instead of £38 for 2 tickets and a show guide. The show guide alone (which I’d consider vital to my enjoyment of the show) was normally £5, which is the sort of thing that would have put me in a bad mood for the whole day if I’d had to pay full price!
The show is ENORMOUS. I hadn’t been to ExCel before and its sheer size blew me away. It was great to look out over the Docklands waters too and I’d forgotten how much fun the Docklands Light Railway was.
Using the voucher was easy. I’d printed it out and there was a special entry queue for people with vouchers – which was actually shorter than all the other queues (I felt like a VIP not a cheapster!). I just handed over the voucher and got an entry ticket and a show guide. Easy as anything.
In the ‘Build’ section of the show we talked Solar Panels. They are quite pricey but I was convinced that they give a good return on your investment at the moment if you can shell out a few grand to get them installed. We managed to resist somehow though (it might have been the lack of a few grand in our pockets).
In the ‘Garden’ section we admired the space-age garden ‘pods’ for sitting in (think garden sheds but circular, shiny and about 300 times more expensive), but fortunately we thought they might look a bit out of place in our garden!
And in the ‘Interiors’ section we fell in love with some soft-as-you-like sheepskin rugs from the Isle of Skye. I’d even named my favourite Hamish so by the time we had to leave it was very painful to leave him behind!
So did we leave empty-handed? Well, yes and no. We put our names down (but no money yet) for one of these - it’s a water rower - a really beautiful rowing machine which uses real water so not only is it low-impact on the body, it also makes satisfying ‘swooshing’ sounds when you row, and it feels like real rowing – not like those ugly metal rowing machines.
My husband and I were both looking for a way to get fit and he used to row at university, so we were totally smitten. It’s not exactly cheap but compared to a gym membership it doesn’t work out badly, and with 20% off at the show we thought maybe we’d treat ourselves to our next Christmas present! And it’s being delivered on Friday.
So much for my “cheap” trip!
This is a word of warning about using group buying sites. That may seem like a weird thing for us to write about – after all Buyometric is a site which aggregates group buying sites, and we really want you to use them! But, just like in many areas of life, sometimes a badly behaved minority can give the majority a bad name. It’s worth exercising some caution in using group buying and daily deal sites, and that’s why filtering the sites with Buyometric can give you more confidence that you’re (most likely) buying from a reputable site.
The group buying sites and daily deal sites which we bring together on our site are generally trustworthy. We can’t make any guarantees (we wish we could), however if we get any complaints from our users, we will always follow them up, and if necessary, we’ll take the offending site off our website and out of our daily emails.
But we know some group buying sites can get a bad press, especially if you search through some of the online forums. Here are some examples of issues that have been reported with some group buying sites.
Firstly, a company can go out of business before you’ve had the opportunity to use their voucher. Obviously it’s possible for this to happen, but it’s a bit of a myth that companies participate in a voucher scheme only when they’re down on their luck. Many successful businesses also participate in very low priced daily deals, and they do this to introduce new customers to their business. However we’d advise you to be just as careful buying a voucher for a company’s services through a group buying site, as if you were buying the voucher directly from the company itself. It’s not always possible for the voucher provider to compensate you if the business does go bust.
Secondly, people have reported that it can sometimes be difficult to book in appointments (eg a reservation for a restaurant, or an appointment for beauty treatment) at convenient times because the business that has issued vouchers suddenly has huge demand which it can’t cope with.
It is worth bearing in mind that if you have very limited times available when you could use the voucher, the business may not have appointments at the times that suit you. However the main daily deal sites are very careful when setting up deals that they do not create demand that the business can’t cope with. If you do have a problem making a reservation, most sites (eg Groupon) will give you a chance to get a refund within 7 days of buying the voucher. Check the terms and conditions of the group buying site carefully if you have any concerns about this.
In reality, the number of issues we hear about through Buyometric is absolutely tiny (and we help to sell a lot of deals!). When there is an issue, it is usually a misunderstanding that can be easily resolved.
And it’s worth remembering, these sites (including the US versions) sell many thousands of deals every day. So although problems do occur, they are few and far between.
We’d advise you always to use these sites with your eyes open wide, to be an active consumer, complaining confidently if anything goes wrong, and knowing what your consumer rights are.
Using Buyometric gives you a measure of confidence as we monitor the behaviour of the sites we use – but as we don’t take your money, we are unable to offer any refunds directly. Please do let us know if anything goes wrong and we’ll always do our best to help you.
Group buying websites have been around for a couple of years, although they’ve only really reached the mainstream in the last year.
Which are the group buying sites?
The largest group buying websites in the UK are Groupon, LivingSocial and KGB Deals, but there’s also a long list of smaller sites, some specialising in particular locations or particular types of deal (eg Wahanda, who specialise in health and wellbeing). What’s more, Facebook and Google are both launching services in this area, so it’s continuing to grow.
Why is group buying so popular?
Group buying sites put together special deals for their users – which are typically only available for one day – with very attractive discounts, usually at least 40% and sometimes up to 90% off the normal price. The discounts are available because consumers buy together (hence ‘group buying’), earning bulk discounts. Many new and small businesses offer great discounts through group buying sites because it is a good way for them to promote their business to a much wider audience than would normally be possible – helping them to expand.
How do you find out about deals?
To get notified of group buying deals, you’d normally sign up to receive a daily email from each group buying site.
However, this can mean you start receiving daily emails from an ever-increasing list of websites. That’s why Buyometric exists – to cut down on your email clutter and consolidate all the deals you’re interested in into one single daily email.
We also allow you to say ‘no’ to all the types of deal you know you won’t want, by telling us what you do and don’t want to hear about.
How do you pay for deals?
If you see a deal you like, you have to act quickly as the deals expire within 24 hours, or less commonly within a week. You’ll have to enter your credit card details to the group buying site directly, and in return you’ll receive a voucher for the deal which is valid for 6 months.
Obviously if you’re handing over your credit card details to a group buying site, you’ll want to know that they’re not a fly-by-night operation. That’s another great reason for using Buyometric to find your deals. We investigate any complaints or rumours we hear about any group buying website, and if there’s any doubt that they are legitimate, we won’t include them on our site (and will report them to the appropriate authority).*
*Unfortunately we can’t give you any guarantees about any company you may be referred to from our site (and we can’t give you your money back, because we don’t take your money), but we will give you our assurance that we will personally investigate problems and issues you may have with any third party site featured on our site, if you have been introduced to them by us.
So finally we’ve decided to start a Buyometric blog and introduce ourselves properly to all our users. Why have we left it so long, after launching our site back in October? Well, we’ve been pretty busy making the site work as brilliantly as possible, and if we’re being honest, a blog has always come a bit further down the list than getting the basics absolutely spot on.
Why start now, then? Well, we hope that a blog can help you (our users and members) to get to know the Buyometric team a bit more personally. To understand that behind Buyometric, there’s not just some clever technology (which of course there is), but that there are real people too (we’re called Paul, Helen and Andy), and that we’re listening to what you have to say, and improving our service as much as we can, day by day.
We hope that this blog will make you, our users, more confident that we’re listening to you, and we hope you’ll feel able to contact us directly, to let us know your thoughts, ideas and feedback. Of course if you have ideas about the site that you’d like to share, we’d encourage you to use the ‘Feedback’ button on the right hand side of all our webpages, which will take you to a Get Satisfaction forum where you can tell us what you’d like to change.
I’ll be using the next few posts to let you ‘behind the scenes’ at Buyometric, and show you who we are, and what we’re doing, to bring you a better, more intelligent, and truly useful service. To slightly corrupt the lyrics to a famous Bryan Adams song – ‘Everything we do, we do it for you’.