Is Groupon Safe and Does It Really Save Money?
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Of all local deal websites, Groupon remains the most popular. But you just have to wonder, is Groupon legit and will it always save you money?

There’s no doubt that many people have saved an impressive amount of money by using Groupon. However, there are also some real dangers involved if you aren’t experienced with the service. So, what is Groupon and how can you avoid scams or bad deals? These Groupon tips will help you make better buys on the marketplace.

What Is Groupon?

If you’ve never shopped on the Groupon website before and don’t know how it works, it becomes a lot harder to spot red flags associated with bad deals. Not only is Groupon a great website for online coupons and promotional codes Top 10 Sites for Online Coupons & Promotional Codes Top 10 Sites for Online Coupons & Promotional Codes It can be difficult to find the coupon codes you want when you need them most. Here are some quality websites dedicated to finding discounts and collecting coupons. Read More , but it also helps you score discounts with local businesses and services.

You can buy Groupons for restaurants, hotels, automotive services, activities, products, personal services, home services, spas, and much more. When you buy a Groupon, you buy a specific product or service at a discounted price. While most of Groupon’s offers give you a great deal, you have to be careful about the Groupons you choose.

How to Spot Potential Fraud

You can’t trust every single deal you see on Groupon, but you shouldn’t let that scare you off from using Groupon altogether. Identifying these red flags can help you avoid a Groupon scam.

Low Number of Buyers

Groupon will display the number of buyers on a popular deal. When you go to the deal’s page, you’ll see small text that says something like “1,000+ bought” above the Buy button. The number of buyers displayed can range anywhere from 10 to 25,000 and beyond.

Smaller businesses might not have thousands of buyers, and that’s okay. If at least 10 people have bought a specific Groupon, you can have confidence that it’s a legitimate deal. If the deal doesn’t have any buyers listed, you’re taking a risk by purchasing it.

Amateur Website

Always visit the website of the business to make sure it’s a legit website. You’ll often see the site name listed in the “About” section of the deal page—otherwise, Google the company. If the site looks like it was thrown together in five minutes, don’t splurge on the deal.

Little Contact Information

When you scroll down the page of a Groupon deal, you’ll usually see the company’s contact information. This includes the business’ address, phone number, and hours. If you don’t see any contact details, then the deal likely isn’t trustworthy.

A Complicated Fine Print

Every Groupon has a “Fine Print” section towards the bottom of the page that you should make sure to read very carefully. Even if the business is legit, sometimes this section can reveal conditions about the deal that the title or description left out. Avoid these deceiving deals at all costs!

Bad Groupon Reviews

Each business on Groupon comes with a rating from one to five stars. You’ll also get to check out what customers say about the business under the “Customer Reviews” section on the deal’s page. A slew of negative reviews and a low star rating are signs that you shouldn’t trust that Groupon.

How to Identify a Bad Groupon Deal

Is Groupon reliable when it comes to its deals? The good news is that fraudulent listings on Groupon are very rare, and when the site learns about them, they are quick to shut them down. Beyond the few fraudulent listings, is a much more prevalent problem: some deals are structured in a way so that the deal isn’t really as good as you’d think.

Split Groupons

Groupon Restaurant Split Deal

You’ll sometimes come across restaurants that split deals into multiple Groupons. At first glance, these deals seem amazing. However, they’re more inconvenient than helpful.

This type of Groupon limits your ability to get the full 50% discount advertised in the Groupon. Instead, you can only spend $8 of the $24 Groupon at a time, on any given day.

This means if you take your family to the restaurant and spend $30, you can only use an $8 Groupon. In other words, you’re only getting the discount off a small portion of your purchase. To make matters worse, you have to go back and make two more purchases to use your remaining Groupons. The only way to make the best of a deal like this is to only purchase $8 worth of food at any given time.

The Hotel Room Bait-and-Switch

Groupon Hotel Deal Price Example

Hotels often advertise very steep discounts off of their rooms on the main Groupon ad. However, Groupon isn’t always the best way to find cheap hotel rooms 5 Ways to Find Free or Cheap Hotels, Homestays, and Hostels 5 Ways to Find Free or Cheap Hotels, Homestays, and Hostels Traveling on a budget? Use these smart sites, apps, and extensions to search for the best deals on hotels, homestays, and hostels. Read More .

When you click and review the hotel deal details, you’ll discover that the discount only applies if you’re traveling alone and only need one bed. You can still book a room with extra beds, but that cost will dramatically increase when you do.

Hotel Groupon Deal Calendar Prices

The Groupon deal usually only applies to the specific days of the week—Fridays and weekends still have sky-high prices. If you schedule the room for the weekend and book it through Groupon, say goodbye to those cheap prices that were advertised on the main Groupon listing!

Home and Personal Services Are Limited

Groupon Personal Services Fine Print

In the Home Services and Personal Services categories of Groupon, you really need to read the “Fine Print” section on each deal.

Unfortunately, the Home Services and Personal Service sections are some of the most tightly controlled discounts with many little details buried in the deal’s conditions. For example, some deals might require that you live in a specific area, and may exclude services you initially expected. To avoid any confusion, just read the “Fine Print” details with a very fine-tooth comb.

Skip Out on the Products

Groupon Product Example Price

You also need to use caution when shopping for products in the Goods section of Groupon. In this category, you can buy anything from electronics, clothes, kitchen tools, pet supplies, and even jewelry.

Before you make the purchase, you should compare prices with other sellers. In the photo above, you’ll see Groupon selling an Anker 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub. Simply using a price comparison tool 6 Useful Price Comparison Websites, Engines, and Tools to Know 6 Useful Price Comparison Websites, Engines, and Tools to Know Price comparison websites help you find the item you want at the lowest price possible. Read More proves that Groupon doesn’t have the best deal—Amazon sells the same product for an even cheaper price.

Groupon Amazon Product Price Comparison

That said, you can still find some decent discounts on products. Just check with other online marketplaces to find the best price.

Use Groupon With Care

Groupon is one of the best resources to get awesome deals, but not every “deal” is amazing. When it comes down to determining your question, “Is Groupon safe?” the answer is most of the time.

There’s always the possibility that the business isn’t honest when listing deals, so do your due diligence before buying. You can also get a better deal elsewhere, so shop around. But if you do spot a killer deal on Groupon and the business looks legit, by all means, jump on it.

Groupon has its fair share of problems, but so do many other online marketplaces. In fact, you should keep an eye out for these eBay scams 10 eBay Scams to Be Aware Of 10 eBay Scams to Be Aware Of Being scammed sucks, especially on eBay. Here are the most common eBay scams you need to know about, and how to avoid them. Read More before placing your next bid.

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  1. dragonmouth
    December 12, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    Groupon is no different than all other online shopping or discount sites. You pays your money and you takes your chances.

  2. Deana Gardine
    November 24, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    I tred to buy from The Metal Shack & Groupon popped up for savings. I gave my cc info ,,& tried to finish order & it wouldn't let me. so, I tried to place it again... same thing. I called my Credit card & sure enough i was charged twice & no one can help me. What do I do?

  3. Virginia Fagan
    October 16, 2017 at 11:43 am

    From all the comments I've read Groupon is not all it says it is. Beware

  4. Virginia Fagan
    October 16, 2017 at 11:39 am

    Still not sure if Groupon good or not. I'm not a computer whiz so not sure how 2 compare n then go back n find what I was looking at. Guess I'll just stay away ftom it. Thanks for ya'lls comments.

  5. Jacqueline Goodreau
    August 14, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    I have used Groupon in the past. Most deals are not big money savers and are more than a hassle than they are worth. My problem with them is that I purchased a service from a Groupon provider that is no longer in business so that I am unable to redeem it. It should be a simple problem to fix, but not so. I have contacted Groupon for a full refund back to my original method of payment but they will not do so. I have been issued "Groupon Bucks" which is a Groupon credit toward other goods and services. I do not want any other product from Groupon. I just want back what I paid. They have my money and I have nothing to show for it. I will no longer use or promote Groupon.

  6. LPW
    April 23, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Groupon may have good deals, but its not worth the hassle when there is a problem. Customer service is most clearly outsourced outside the U.S. and not readily available. Good luck trying to find a phone number to call. My account was hacked and 3 purchases made all at once. The tracking information was suspicious (the items were shipped before the fraudulent purchases were made). When I contacted them by Live Chat and email, their first response was, "Are you sure someone else you know didn't make these purchases on your account, from an international location?" Uhhh no. What I find most disturbing is that I hadn't signed onto Groupon in over 2 years and yet my credit card information was still stored on my account without requiring some type of security measure or verification of CVV code. I had also moved so you would think it would require the entire credit card information to be reentered like most reputable websites. For these reasons, I would advise consumers to not use Groupon - your credit card is at risk. I was able to catch the purchases before they posted, but I still had to cancel my credit card, what a headache. And beyond frustrating to feel like you are being blamed by Groupon. Research them - thousands of people have had this same problem and Groupon won't admit any wrongdoing when clearing they have a security issue.

  7. Falilat
    April 20, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    There are many things wrong with Groupon consumers need to be aware of.
    First, most of their listed "original" prices(especially for goods,not much for services) are over inflated to give you the impression that you are getting a good strike-through price. This illusion of a good deal is basic fraudulent business. I don't know if they determine this or the merchant does. For example take a look at their listing of watches-e.g sturhling watches, they estimate them at ridiculous "original" prices, compare them to other sites carrying non-refurbished originals.

    Also, their deal isn't as great as projected. If you compare them to the "original" price it seems great till you look up the prices on other websites.A simple example is their makeup brush when compared to a website call "makeup brush set" or even Amazon or eBay.

    Third, they rip customers off money in many undiscovered ways. First the app has no option of a cart so if you want three colours of a product, you have to purchase it separately and pay shipping (4:99 or so on each- e.g try buying different colours or design from same seller) but they combine these products into 1 package at the cost of 4.99 when sending it to you there by saving on shipping while you have paid for 3 separate shipping and handling fees(17$+).
    If you contact then, they tell you there is a cart option if you use a laptop but not avialable for android and iPhone -then why have a app? Who doesn't have a cart option in an app? EBay, Amazon has the "message to the seller option where you can indicate to seller to provide 2-3 colours of same purchase).

    Let's not even address their "human robotic-not sure if it's a person" customer service. Also them offering you Groupon bucks and not actual refund on items not delivered.

    I am personally done with Groupon for any purchase of goods...maybe I will still use them for verified services.

  8. Julie Carignan
    February 18, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    I've used Groupon several times (for both restaurants and Groupon Goods) and have had positive experiences.
    Today, however, I received a product that was different from the one pictured in the ad. I tried to post a negative review and found that I couldn't. A message kept popping up saying "Oops, we couldn't submit this review for some odd reason. Please try again in a few minutes." Trying many times, I kept getting the same error message.
    The interesting thing was that I then posted a positive review about a past purchase and that review was able to be submitted with no trouble. Hmmmm.
    Made me wonder if the reviews are rigged such that only the positive ones are able to be published. I wouldn't make a general statement based on a single data point, though in only a few moments of searching I readily found a similar complaint on a consumer affairs site. I'll just be more inclined to be dubious about believing the ratings on Groupon.

  9. Gemma
    December 26, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    I booked a holiday with them, then tried to redeem it. When I tried, I was told, that that holiday was all booked up, and It would cost an extra 300. When I tried to get a refund from Groupon, they said that it was too late. It was a phishing scam, where we were held to ransom to pay the balance. It turned out to be the exact same price had you booked direct.

  10. Andre K
    December 19, 2016 at 12:55 am

    I never used groupon but heard good things. So I purchased a Microsoft tablet. Then took 3 weeks to arrive because it was "lost". Red flag # 1. I called Groupon and unbeknownst to me it's not Groupon it's Power Price Inc...ok fine...maybe that's ok. Nope. Groupon has no phone number for them. Red Flag #2. Today the BRAND NEW surface tablet finally arrived. I open and find used scratched up junk. Red flag #3 I refuse delivery. Now call Groupon and say WTF this is junk and scam. They say I'll get refund after item arrives back to whoever power price is. Red flag #4 Groupon didn't immediately issue a refund for this scam n fraud n seller who is STILL on Groupon. I will NEVER use Groupon again! Lesson learned the hard way! F Groupon!

  11. Mary Wyatt
    November 17, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    I purchased a handbag which was reduced from £110 to £29. No way was it worth the top price. Will not use again

  12. Phoebe
    October 13, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    I do appreciate this article. I do have one issue with it. Groupon IS NOT quick to shut down fraudulent offers. I informed them a month ago of a hair color offer, the "stylist" no longer does hair at all and my salon gets calls every week from people who have purchased the deal. I made Groupon aware of the situation and they responded with "sorry for the inconvenience but we can't do anything". Now I'm in the process of filing a complaint with the BBB to have the deal removed.

  13. Robert Hixon
    September 5, 2016 at 6:37 am

    Max D the 5D video experience is closed. Nobody there but they are selling on Group On EXCLUSIVELY. Mall security is baffled. It will take charging the Boulevard Mall as coconspirators in fraud.
    Challenge your credit card charges.

  14. Robert Hixon
    September 5, 2016 at 6:34 am

    Max D5d in Las Vegas. At the Boulevard Mall is closed. Still selling on Groupon. Security is baffled on what to do.
    My only advice is to dispute credit card charge.
    This is FRAUD. No product delivered. No intent to deliver.

  15. Travelgang10
    August 24, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    I have purchased 3 electronic items. 2 were activity trackers and the 3rd item is a smartwatch. The only warranty they came with was the 14 day return policy groupon offers.
    The activity trackers stopped working just after 2 months.
    For the smart watch, the groupon ad said it supports iOS & android. However, when I opened the packaging after returning from holidays the 1st thing the instructions says is that iOS is not supported at this time.
    So the watch is unreturnable and un-used.
    I highly recommend not buying any products without a better warranty.

  16. Ijustlikeadeal
    December 4, 2015 at 7:16 am

    I've have some good and some bad experiences with groupon.
    The bad hasn't outweighed the good for me because I still use the site.
    I have purchased a few goods that weren't that "good". I purchased some tights that literally fell apart when I put them on. The seams kind of disintegrated and the elastic fell out. I also ordered a dkny coat which is normally a nice brand. The cut was terrible and the fabric was cheap. It seemed to be a knock off to me.
    I am terrible at returning things by mail and didn't follow up with groupon to see if they would refund.
    I also bought a dr. Cell phone voucher to fix my iPad screen. When the guy rang me up at the store he forgot I was using a groupon and gave me the total it would normally cost. Turned out to be the exact amount I paid for my groupon. Guess I wasn't getting the percentage off the groupon claimed to be giving me.
    I chalked this up to dr. Cell phone being dishonest when giving groupon the info for the deal and decided not to use them in the future.
    When buying his type of deal I now call the business before purchasing to verify the cost of their service.

  17. Anonymous
    June 23, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    I only had a couple of so-and-so experiences before the big negative one. That time I bought a restaurant voucher for an outing with my wife. Few days after, my father fell ill, was in hospital for two months and finaly died. I did visit him daily and of course the restaurant voucher had no place in my mind.
    After things settled a bit I finaly paid attention to my voucher which had expired a few days before. Groupon customer service were not sympathetic ( to say the least ) and they went by the book letting me have the full financial loss on top of the human one. No soothing formula for the latter either.
    So I'd rather pay something a lot more then give my business to them. Period.

  18. Anonymous
    June 23, 2015 at 4:22 am

    I have been lucky enough to say that the items I have purchased on groupon was because it was the cheapest possible price for the item that I wanted. When I see a groupon that interests me, I first look at amazon or any other site where I regularly buy from, and I check to see if they have it at a better price. If they don't have it cheaper then I get the groupon.

    • Anonymous
      June 23, 2015 at 1:06 pm

      In other words, you do your research and not buy blindly just because Groupon is supposed to be the cheapest.

  19. Anonymous
    June 23, 2015 at 4:01 am

    Snapdeal is busy in doing it other way...

    This is snapdeal's web page which proves that snapdeal is doing fraud.

    Item show in picture is 26 inches long, item supplied is 20 inches long. You can confirm the size of the item from the link of the dealers given on the webpage:

    http://www.snapdeal.com/product/stop-shoppers-self-defense-security/2026244596

    My order number was 4820148267. After returning the item two times because of incorrect item, Snapdeal has refunded my amount expressing inability to provide correct size item. But snapdeal has not stopped selling incorrect size item. Hence it is a continuing scam.

  20. Anonymous
    June 22, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Why pick on Groupon? This crap has been going on for decades, if not longer, with paper coupons, ads in newspapers, fliers we get at home, TV ads, etc. That is why false/deceptive advertising laws were enacted. HSN and QVC present themselves as discount merchandisers but they really are not. The stuff they hawk at what looks like big discounts can be purchased in brick & mortar stores for less. Even the prices at everybody's mecca of low prices, Amazon, can be beaten with some research.

    As Sy Syms of Syms Discount Clothing Stores used to say, "you have to be an educated consumer". Unfortunately for him, if one was an "educated consumer" one did not shop at Syms because one could find better prices at department stores like Macy's, Target, Sears or JC Penney.

    • Anonymous
      June 22, 2015 at 7:46 pm

      I'm with you, fcd76218. Don't pick on the messenger. If you've used the Internet for any length of time, and have used it to shop for something even once, then the onus is squarely on you, the consumer, to know how to protect yourself. The Internet is crawling with entities eager to separate a fool from his money.