How to Hack Groupon

I’m a Groupon addict. Seriously. I’ve been able to track my Groupon purchases as far back as May 2009 (Flatwater Grill, Chicago, $5 for $20 towards brunch – a steal!) but am pretty sure it’s a little older than that. My efforts have landed some pretty sweet deals that have opened my eyes (and stomach) to a lot of new and interesting experiences that I may not have taken advantage of otherwise. And, while my loyalty has been rewarded by Groupon over the years (a beach party, Camp Groupon) I’m not above criticizing them when things go wrong or seem off-kilter from what I believe makes them so great.

So as I sit here planning some Groupon adventures to whittle my stash down before the end of the year, I though I’d share some things I’ve learned that may help your Groupon experience.

Follow Multiple Cities

This is a simple one that is very often overlooked. The deals you see are typically based on the city you selected in your profile. Mine is Chicago. However, you can select multiple cities to track. There are 2 reasons toimage do this: #1, when Groupon announces national deals (say, The Body Shop or Gap) you may have difficulties purchasing using the link in your email. If that’s the case, go to the Groupon website and select another  city. If you see the offer there just make sure it’s not localized to that city in the fine print. If it isn’t, you’re good to go! #2 is to search Groupons for deals on restaurants and cultural activities in cities you plan to visit for work or on vacation. Obviously, you want to make sure not to go hog wild and end up with a bunch of expired Groupons for a city you won’t be back to for 6 months.

Plan Your Groupons

I’ve gotten a little lax on this, so this hack is meant for me too. When you purchase a Groupon, make a point of selecting a date on your calendar to use it. Otherwise, you’ll likely find yourself either rushing to use it before the expiration date (no fun if it’s a popular item) or lamenting the lost savings when you use it for the value purchased.But if  Which brings me to a very important hack.

Use it even after you lose it

imageI can’t emphasize enough how great Groupons are for saving money and discovering. But sometimes you can’t get around to using them. Don’t fret, because by law your Groupon is always worth the original purchase amount. Most businesses will recognize this, and allow you still use the voucher after it expired. If they don’t, you can point this out to them or just contact Groupon for a credit. I’ve used both methods successfully.

 

Make it Fun

Like a couponer, I love to double & triple up my Groupon uses. For example, using Groupons for a show or event, along with one for a restaurant and a dessert place not only can save you some serious dough but makes a triple-header of unique experiences. Note to Groupon: It would be neat sometimes to be able to join other Grouponers in redeeming vouchers together, say at a restaurant or cultural event. Just sayin’.

Tip, Tip, Tip!

I bring this up not as a hack but a friendly word on behalf of the small businesses owners that make up the majority of Groupon businesses. Tip on the actual value of the services rendered ok? I recall talking with a waiter at a restaurant I was frequenting via Groupon, and they were frustrated by the customers who were not only tipping on the discount but also trying not to spend any more than necessary to get the full value of the deal! If you’re paying anything less than full price, it’s a deal, ok? Don’t be cheap.

I’ve directed this post to Groupon, but most of these tips can be applied to Living Social and other group buying sites I suppose. Just be sure to read the fine print and know what recourse you have should you not use the voucher.