In general I like Groupon, but you have to be really careful with it. Ideally, groupon is a great way to learn about a new business and try a new product or service. For the business it should be a great form of advertising, but many businesses don't see it this way.
For example, last summer I got a "spa package" groupon. The package said it included a warm bamboo massage, a mini facial, body scrub and a reflexology treatment . In actuality what happened was the owner / massage therapist wasn't very polite and seemed rather annoyed by the fact that I was coming in for services. She attached these weird suction cup thingys to my feet which stayed on during the massage, that apparently was the reflexology treatment. For the body scrub I believe she basically did a scrub on my hands and for the "facial" she put one of those packaged facial masks on my face during the massage. The massage was good, the bamboo was a new and different experience but it was basically a massage with weird things on my feet and a moisturized cloth on my face. Needless to say I didn't go back. On one hand I get where the business is coming from, Groupon prices are typically 50% off full price, and the service provider gets half of that . . . so they were paid 25% of the normal value. BUT, at the same time this business has an incredibly opportunity to wow me with their service, so I want to come back and pay full price. Plus they are getting tipped. I only gave $20, not because I'm cheap (I had brought more cash) but I felt that I really only got a massage and so I only tipped what I would for a massage. If you figure a massage therapist works 40 hours a week like most grown folks do and you take into account down time between clients and administrative duties they should be able to see 6 clients a day, and if each one gave $20 that the equivalent of a $31,200 a year job . . . just in tips. Between my tip and what groupon paid this person got $55 cash for 1 hour and 15 minutes of their time, let's say 1.5 hours for set up and clean up. Not a bad hourly income in my opinion but I guess this owner didn't see it that way. Her loss, because I found a massage therapist I do like and I have no problem paying full price when I feel I am in need of one.
So with the knowledge that many business treat their groupon customers like second class customers I take this into consideration when I purchase groupons and try not to be wowed by the advertised value, because chances are if something is advertised to be a $150 value service I'm not going to get treated like a $150 customer would. Last weekend I got a facial and seaweed wrap, would I pay $150 regular price for that? oh hell no, was it worth the $60 I paid - plus $30 in tip, sure! This vendor must not get many tipping customers because she kissed my cheek when I gave her that $30; this blows my mind, you just covered my naked body in seaweed and then cleaned it off by hand with warm towels, omg of course I'm going to tip for that. BTW, as promised, my skin as been incredibly soft and smooth all week, yay seaweed.
I think the best values for groupons are ones where you will be in a large group experiencing the same thing as full price customers, by default you can't be treated like a second class citizen. Classes are a good example of this - painting, cooking, fitness - fun stuff. And let's face it, no matter how good the discount may be for some things I'm just not going to veer off from my regular provider, case in point, I had the audacity to ask Rodney if he would mind if I got a trim to tide me over the two weeks until my appointment (I know hairstylist can recognize their own cut so don't ever try to run one past yours) and his answer was to find time this week. So I'll be getting my hair done after work tonight. I'm pretty sure the receptionist there must think I'm a rude B because this isn't the first time I've had to get an off the books appt, at least my hair will look good as my vi peel heals.
Anyways, another thing to keep in mind with groupons is to make sure you use them. And report to groupon customer service when you can't. I do in fact what some real reflexology so I bought a groupon for that. When the therapist didn't respond to my calls or email I let groupon know. They offered to get in touch with her for me but really I have no interest in being alone in a room with someone that had to be bullied into being there so I got the money credited back to my account. The I did buy a groupon for a sushi class and when I called for a spot I was told they were full, so again I let groupon know they were selling more deals then they had spots and again got a credit - which I turned into a laser hair removal package and had no problem booking the appointment so look forward to a post about that in June.