Group buying is not always the real deal

GROUPON, Wahanda, Crowdity, Keynoir, Living Social and other group-buying sites have had a speedy path to popularity. But the hype doesn't always match the reality. Our money expert checks out the deals
GROUPON, Wahanda, Crowdity, Keynoir, Living Social and other group-buying sites have had a speedy path to popularity. The concept did not exist a few years ago, but now millions of people receive daily email deals offering spa trips, holidays, restaurant meals and more, at discounts of up to 90 per cent.

But the hype doesn’t always match the reality. As part of a Which? magazine investigation, the consumer group signed up to the major buying websites to check out their deals. The conclusion? A mixed experience.

Some offers are brilliant - but some discounts are exaggerated. Customers have also reported problems trying to book paid-for deals, due to retailers or other firms becoming overloaded with the interest.

Check out offers before you buy:


1) Check every discount with the provider direct before you buy. So if it’s a deal to secure 10 gym passes for £30, ask the gym group how much they would charge for them: the big percentage discounts can be misleading.

2) Read the terms and conditions. A recent GROUPON deal offered a personalised picture canvas up to 20x30 inches. But the photo seemed to show a much-larger canvas, so check exactly what you’re buying. Some deals are only available in the week, or for a certain period: make sure they fulfil your needs.

3) Check out the company offering the deal. Is the hairdresser any good? Does a restaurant offer nice food? Is the hotel 100 miles away from where it seems? It’s worth a quick Google for reviews.

4) Look at all the group-buying options. Families might like Littlebird or LikeBees, which both have deal on family days out. A recent one from LittleBird offered adult tickets to the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden for £5: it’s usually £13.50. Incahoot is a group-buying site specialising in phone, energy and broadband bills.

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