I can’t believe that anyone who uses Facebook hasn’t discovered these gems yet, but apparently this is so.
In an effort to spread knowledge, increase happiness and empty your wallet, let me share with you the half-dozen or so sites that have been popping up in the last few months.
First off, a list of all the social shopping sites that I know of at the moment, and then some FAQ.
SOCIAL SHOPPING SITES FOR VANCOUVER
- BC Daily Deals
I used to do email subscriptions to each of these, but my brother showed me Deal Rader, a news feed that aggregates all the deals each day (except for TownHog), and provides a quick, easy way of glancing at what’s being offered.
Social shopping sites are also available in many other North American cities. Check out your local area to see what’s on offer.
SO WHAT IS A SOCIAL SHOPPING SITE AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
Social shopping sites (or group shopping sites) are websites that offer daily deals to various local businesses.
How it works is the website solicits businesses to give a discount on their product(s), which is then offered on the site. For the deal to be activated, there must be a minimum number of purchasers before the deal is ‘on’—before the business will uphold its side of the bargain by accepting the discount. By activating the deal only when the minimum number of customers is met, this protects the business.
How it works for you, the customer: your credit card will only be charged when the minimum number of buyers is met. This means you aren’t going to lose money over deals that are never activated.
What’s in it for websites like these is that they get a percentage of what they sell to us. This they sort out with the businesses, so you (the customers) don’t have to worry about it.
Depending on the site, you can even earn credit on your account for referring your friends. Some of them only allow you to get credit when you refer a friend for the first time; some for each deal. These have more requirements that need to be met to be activated, so read carefully.
I spent $25 on a coupon from Grooster for $50 worth of food from Bistro Pastis on West 4th (incidentally, also my favourite French bistro). All I need to do is go there, produce the coupon, and I can order up to $50 worth of food for no extra charge. If I order more than that amount, I need to cover it myself. Taxes and tip are also not included.
A friend is splitting the cost of the coupon with me, which makes this an extremely sweet deal for both of us to have a seriously gourmet meal for $12.50.
THIS SOUNDS LIKE A SCAM. WHAT’S THE CATCH?
Honestly, these sites aren’t scams. I’ve used my coupons with no problems. The deals are legit.
The problem is that not everyone uses their coupons by their expiry dates. It’s easy to forget what your purchased, because the expiry dates can vary quite a bit. (Tip: check the expiry date before purchasing a coupon.)
Also, it’s very hard to get the exact value of your coupon: either you will pay less than the coupon in order not to spend another cent, or pay a little extra in order to maximise every cent of your coupon value. I tend to spend a few dollars more.
HOW EFFECTIVE ARE THESE FOR BUSINESSES IN THE LONG RUN?
Good question; no idea.
After my initial spurt of excitement and trying to get all the best deals I could find, I realised there are now so many of these sites, it won’t be long until something similar crops up again. Now I only buy when I really, really want something (like my Bistro Pastis coupon). Does this mean, in the long run, that people won’t go to expensive restaurants and go-karting unless they have a deal? That’s something yet to be seen.
After all, there are still many people (my friends included) who have told me they have been spending far more money than they used to. So maybe it’ll even out.
In the meantime, I’m definitely making use of them!