Neil Faulkner at Lovemoney.com has been taking a look at whether group-buying websites, such as Groupon or Incahoot, always save you money.
Putting aside their consumer regulation failingsÂ (opens a PDF from the Office of Fair Trading website)Â , you’d think that the deals they offer would give great discounts, but the results of the (admittedly rather limited) research suggests that some of the deals are no better than you can find elsewhere, and where you do find a money-saving offer, you have to carefully read the small-print to ensure you fully understand the deal.
It turns out that ‘group-buying’ is a completely inaccurate phrase. These websites are not lovable, philanthropic communities. The main purpose of group-buying websites seems to be to give companies a very effective place to advertise their product or service in the hope of repeat business. Or to allow hotels, restaurants and package holiday firms to offer cheap deals at quiet times.
The other point about group-buying sites is that they often tempt you into buying things that you had no intention of buying in the first place; hardly a way to save money.
Have you used group-buying sites? What have been your experiences? Let us know in the comments below.