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I recently suggested to a friend that she buy a Groupon to a place we both frequent.

“No, I would never use a Groupon there. That’s rude.”

She believes using a daily deal coupon at a place where you’re a regular customer is bad form. She thinks these deals are meant to attract new customers, so it looks like you’re getting over on the business. Furthermore, some businesses use these deals because they’re struggling to stay open, so if you want them to stick around, she says you should pay full price.

I understand her point, but I’ve never felt guilty. If I spend a decent amount of money someplace, I have no problem accepting a break every now and then. In addition, there are some businesses that offer Groupons once a month. It’s almost as if these places have incorporated daily deals into their businesses model and are training customers not to come in without one.

I posed the question on Twitter and there were people on both sides. What are your thoughts?


Links of the Day:


– Senator Chuck Schumer played a big role in keeping the Bills in Buffalo. The NFL owners didn’t want to tick him off.

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– “We regard DEA’s conduct to be a knowing and serious breach of Facebook’s terms and policies.”

– A Rochester woman tracked down her biological father and discovered he’s a notorious mob informant.

6 Responses to Rude to Use Groupons?

  1. October 20, 2014 at 4:09 am Lincoln DeCoursey responds:

    I once spoke with a waitress friend about her experience working in a city bar/restaurant where a Groupon had recently been run, and she seemed pretty jaded about it. She complained about overly-demanding customers, improper tipping, and she particularly didn’t expect any repeat (regular-price) business to come from any of the coupon users. Her impression was that they really were just there to take advantage of the deal. That said, I didn’t get the owner’s perspective nor did I get a chance even to confirm whether any of the Groupon couponers had in fact ended up becoming regular customers (my friend quit that job a short while later).

    A thing to keep in mind is that the discounted price you pay for a Groupon still has to be divvied up between Groupon and the business offering the deal, so with the typical half-price deal, the business gets only about 25% of the face value. For the hypothetical scenario where a person is already a regular customer and is questioning whether to take advantage of a Groupon, I guess I would suggest to go ahead and use the Groupon but to try to be conscientious about it. Try to throw the business an extra visit as opposed to just using the Groupon during the course of normal patronage, and use the opportunity to splurge a bit: if you have a Groupon for $20, try to run up a tab more like $35 so that the business owner gets to put some actual cash in the register.

  2. October 20, 2014 at 7:59 am John Moriello responds:

    Unless the business occasionally gives her a spontaneous discount for her meal, your friend has it backwards — it’s the business that’s being inconsiderate.

    A business that has the marketing money to deep-discount new prospects should be rewarding its regulars, even if it’s just a token free soft drink or half-price appetizer on every seventh visit.

    I ran into this when I switched garbage haulers to a much cheaper company. When I called the old company to cancel, only then did they offer a 40 percent discount. I still dropped them in a nanosecond.

  3. As a small business owner, I think Groupon style ‘deals’ are not very good for the business unless you can acquire a new customer that will continue to patronize your business at your regular prices and offset the breakeven transaction/loss you took by offering the deal.

    As a consumer, it’s your option to use any valid coupon/offer/deal that’s out there. Since I’m closer to the other side of the transaction, I personally would never use one at any locally-owned place I was a regular at but might consider one as a ‘try-me’ offer at a business I’d never used before.

    I agree that some businesses ‘train’ their customers to expect the deal and as a result have customers who won’t buy without it. Promotional dollars are better spent rewarding your best customers and creating incentives to refer friends than giving away the store to a Groupon customer that you may or may not ever see again.

  4. October 22, 2014 at 10:31 am phantomlord responds:

    I run a service based business (read: most of the cost of my service is my labor, not product I have to order) and I offer a Groupon in the hopes of attracting new customers. While I take about a 75% cut on my normal price, I just about break even on what it costs me to provide my service (basically, I’m giving my time away), but every one of my Groupon users has gone on to become a regular. For me, Groupon is essentially an advertiser paying me to find customers for me.

    Having more than a decade of restaurant management experience in my past, I can see where Groupons are trouble for that type of business. If you’re selling a $20 meal for $10 and you get $5, the food cost alone is going to be around $6.50 (about a third of a restaurant’s revenue goes to food costs). It’s further exacerbated by only getting that $5 twice a month, so if someone comes in on the 1st, you don’t get paid for it until sometime around the 16th (and the ones bought and never redeemed, you never get paid for, Groupon keeps that money). This is further magnified by people that abuse Groupon by having multiple accounts and getting extra vouchers that the merchant hadn’t entitled them to receive (it happens – I’ve seen it personally and honor them anyway, in an effort to show how important customer service is to me even though the customer and I both know they’re cheating me).

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