Here are a few simple tips from Dealshelve:
- Is it really a good deal? - Group buying sites like Groupon takes half of the amount you pay for the deal, so the merchants do not earn much (or they are actually losing money), they just offer the deal for publicity and advertising purpose. Some insincere merchants will jack up the price and claim to offer it at 50%-90% discounts to make sure they still earn money. How do you know it's a good deal? Ask your friends on Facebook!
- Read the fine print and call the merchant - What's the catch? Watch out for terms and conditions like "only valid on weekdays" or "3 days in advance is required for appointments" etc. All deals have its own terms, this is normal, so make sure you align your expectation accordingly. If you are in doubt please call the merchants directly to get more information, please note that sometimes deal sites (especially inexperienced sites) do not communicate properly with the merchant and have the fine print poorly written. Also don't be surprised that the merchant's receptionist is not aware of such deal being offered by their company. Of course, some sites have a comment section where the representative of the deal site or merchant is always standby to answer your questions.
- Beware of the number of buyers - Sometimes a deal is so good that it attracted more than ten thousands purchases. But please be aware that some merchants cannot cope with so many customers at once. Normally a deal site will extend the voucher validity period if the deal, for example, has more than 100 purchases, the period will be increased from one month to two months. An established and experienced group buying site will always set a maximum number to avoid over-purchase. If the deal has a great demand, it will be offered again in the future in a controlled manner. You certainly do not want your voucher to be useless because you can't book a time for your facial therapy on weekend, or you need to make a reservation 3 months in advance for your buffet dinner right?
- Beware of phishing sites - I have not heard of any fraudulent group buying sites in Malaysia yet but we need to be very careful when doing online transaction. This should not be an issue for the renown sites but there are so many new sites appearing in recent months. Take China for example, it has more than 4500 group buying sites and is growing at the rate of approximately 10 sites per day! Phishing sites is a real problem in China. In Malaysia, Dealshelve estimates that there is 1 new site appearing every week. But the good thing is most sites in Malaysia and Singapore are using payment gateway like iPay88, NBePay and PayPal. We should have better confidence on sites that uses payment gateway than those sites that require direct bank transfer or online credit card payment without payment gateway because the payment gateway company can be last line of defense in case of fraudulence.
Do you have more specific tips on group buying? Please leave a comment or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy group buying!
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