Last night, me and about a hundred other people realized that we were running out of time to use the Groupon we purchased to an Italian restaurant to get $40 worth of food for $20. I pushed my way through the abnormally large crowd (I'm a regular there) to the hostess stand where I learned there would be a two to three hour wait for a table. Since it was already 7:30 p.m. and a school night, I had to admit defeat and let the Groupon's deal expire.
This is not the first time I've let this happen, so I decided that I would have to give up group couponing. I told my Twitter followers about my experience and learned something very valuable.
Groupon has always refunded the money of unsatisfied customers; however, after being sued multiple times regarding expiration dates, Groupon further defined its terms of sale. According to an article in the Consumerist, it is not clear if a Groupon is a gift card or a coupon. Groupon has decided to ask its merchants to abide by the strictest gift card laws which require a merchant to honor what was paid for the deal (not the promotional value of the deal). If the merchant doesn't agree, Groupon will refund the amount paid upon request in the original form of payment, or will credit the Groupon account of the purchaser with an equivalent number of Groupon “Bucks” for future purchases.
So in my case, I didn't lose money -- only the opportunity to take advantage of a good deal. I'm a regular customer at this restaurant, so I'm happy to go on another (less busy) night and at least get the value of my $20 back.
I also learned that if a deadline is looming and you know you won't be able to to use your Groupon, you have an option that might even make you some money. The website CoupRecoup is like CraigsList for group coupons. It's free to resell group coupons you've already purchased. For buyers, CoupRecoup gives you an opportunity to get in on a deal you might otherwise have missed.
What's your experience with Groupons? Have you ever bought or sold one through CoupRecoup?
Also, if you'd like to read more about group couponing, check out Make your own group coupon.