Thursday, March 10, 2011

Groupon: Deal or No Deal?

I was skeptical at first, of course. Discounts of 50% or more on meals and other stuff--ranging from spa treatments to soap-making lessons to 42-inch LCD TVs (for just around 22,000 pesos, I am so tempted to buy!)--just seemed too good to be true.

Then I came across this deal a few days ago:

The sub just looked so stuffed and appetizing! Of course I checked customer reviews at OpenRice first, where I saw 22 positive ratings and 0 negative. And since the price wasn't bad (29 HKD is around what you'll spend at a McDonald's or KFC), I finally gave in and bought one voucher.

I redeemed the voucher yesterday. Apart from having some trouble finding the place (it was right within the innards of Central district), the experience had been quite pleasant. The food was as good as advertised, so the next time I'm in the neighborhood I'll probably pay Delicieux Bistro another visit.

Based my experience so far, some of these Groupon deals really are "deals" that can save someone a bit of money in the long run. Groupon has apparently gotten quite big here in Hong Kong since it was launched early this year: it now has around 250,000 fans in Facebook. Of course, clone sites have sprouted as well, but I'm hesitant to try these sites out. But ever since my Delicieux buy, I have bought two more deals: a 20 HKD meal at a nearby Taiwanese restaurant and a pair of JVC headphones for 168 HKD (928 pesos).

I understand that the "group buying" phenomenon is even bigger in the US, and fanatics have been know to suffer from "Groupon remorse." It happens when consumers buy deals that they never redeem, apparently after having gone through a "What a deal!" followed by "Why did I buy that?" frame of mind. It's good news for sellers, of course, since they earn money for undelivered and unrendered goods and services.

I'm not sure how big this is in the Philippines, although I know that there also are several other sites offering the exact same service as Groupon's Beeconomic. When I go to the Philippines site, I only see deals I wouldn't buy, although I'm not sure if it's always like that or if others more or less feel the same way. But considering the imperfect state of our online payment system (both on the buyers' and vendors' sides), I have a feeling that it will take time before the Groupon business model completely takes off in the Philippines. Which is quite unfortunate, really, because there are many ways the service can benefit us consumers in the long run.
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