Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Was it a good idea killed by bloat, or a totally misguided business plan?

Remember when Groupon was cool? The deals were smokin', the emails were rare (and greatly anticipated) and in the very off chance something went amiss (like the one I purchased for a service and they didn't respond after I signed up and tried to contact them for over a week) they gladly and promptly refunded your purchase price?

Gone are those days. Groupon has become bloated as an outlet for anything and everything from vacation rentals that have a list of dates not available longer and in smaller print than drug manufacturer's side effects listings to odds and ends of overstock merchandise. And when one of their vendors failed to even respond to me as I tried repeatedly to partake of their services recently, they had no care to make it right.

(And retailers are giving the deal-getters the dregs, too; I purchased a deal for Re-Pac as I'd been considering switching to reusable sandwich and food bags for lunches. Thought this would be a great way to give it a go, and a gateway to additional purchase to outfit this kitchen of two lunch-takers. The Groupon was some time ago. I ordered two weeks ago and hadn't heard anything. In the fine print on their web site only it states:  *Please note: While we make every effort for prompt shipment, there can be shipping delays of 4-6 weeks when a purchase is made with a mass coupon (such as Groupon, Living Social or Mamapedia).*

For some reason -- perhaps Deal Happyness Imprinting -- I've kept with Groupon through the onslought of LivingSocial, Google Deals, Yollar and the absolute worst name ever: Deal Chicken.

BTW, WTF is Mamapedia. Jezus.

Seems more often than not, the deals offered now are crap. Teeth whitening? Seriously?

As a deal-getter, I was usually a good catch. The deals enticed me to try new things, and at each deal I bought more than the voucher amount. To not do so... I'd feel like a vulture. Some didn't end up making me a repeat customer, sometimes because it just wasn't my thing... but at least I tried. And I had knowledge of the outlet/service to share with others. *shrug* No regrets as a customer. 

I had a small experience from Groupon on the business owner side, and read a great deal about the realities for small businesses in various journals and mags. Articles abounded about the business model's lack of sustainability. And business owners found: cheap ass people only reaching out to snag a deal don't become real, paying customers. They just take your valuable merchandise for half its normal value. As they don't become repeat customers, you might be able to smile weakly and say, "Well, perhaps you got a customer you wouldn't have otherwise gotten, and perhaps they then exposed someone else to your produce and you got more exposure and thus some value out of it."

No, really, read the Fast Company article:

In a race for the bottom, no one wins. And as I shut down my Living Social account after a true bait-and-switch offer that they will not refund, I am reminded that direct relationships with those making quality products and providing quality services are what should receive my money.

If we all are not willing to support good products and services at a fair rate, before long they simply won't be around for us, period.

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