Monday, 22 June 2015

Be Careful When You Shop On Coupon Websites

You may read Smith Leong's account of how he ended up paying $88 for a membership he did not expect here.

The original incident that prompted me to write this post took place while I was walking down Orchard Road, when a group of guys tried to hard-sell me some Manhattan Fish Market coupons for $19.90. The coupons were fairly attractive, with a savings value of over $100, but I pointed out to them that there was no way I could use them all up before they expire at the end of the year. They continued to try to sell me on the value, saying I could share them with friends, etc, but no. Budget Babe does not fall for that sort of stuff, so I walked away.

(Also, you can easily find coupons for Manhattan online, such as on Groupon, so why pay?)




I did a quick search online, and realized that there are quite a number of online coupon-saving sites in Singapore where consumers are asked to pay for membership first before getting access to the discounts. Furthermore, according to many blogs and Facebook posts I saw, many of these consumers are not able to get back their refunds. 


I also noticed that many of the sites I found, also happen to be owned by the same company, which is helmed by a successful expat CEO who lives in a landed property here in Singapore.

Here are some of the user complaints about StreetDeal which I came across:

1. StreetDeal Singapore





On some sites, many prior users have also expressed their difficulty in getting back their refunds.


Source: Streetdeal Singapore consumer interests group Facebook page
Here are 3 more coupon websites I personally avoid like the plague.

2. RivaLife

Owned by Asia Deal Group, where on their company website, they state that they also own StreetDeal. 




3. SaveTheDeals



Their promise is that you can save up to $140 each month, but before I could see what offers they had, I had to first pay $1 for a trial access, which would get automatically upgraded to membership for $35 monthly from then on.

Maybe some folks are willing to pay all that money and contribute to the company's profits, but definitely not me.



They'll sell you based on the fact that you'll get refunded. Do you? Once you purchase a deal, you have to scan the receipt to them and there are user reviews online sharing that it takes 30 days for them to "process" a refund. Membership is automatically renewed, but once you're no longer their member, they're no longer entitled to pay you any money back?




4. MySweetSavings 


Looks familiar?


Coupon Sites I Personally Use

But honestly, if you're smart enough to use coupons, there's a lot of free money waiting around for you to take advantage of.

When I was living in the U.S. previously, I picked up independence, as well as quite a few nifty tricks to save money (after all, I was a student on a budget, without my parents' financial backing). One of the biggest tricks we used was coupon-ing, where our landlord had coupon subscriptions which were delivered regularly to our front door. 

Before we went anywhere, we always looked out for a coupon we could use. Discounted tickets for Red Flags, 2-for-1 purchases for groceries at Costco...and I daresay we saved a ton of money!


However, with sites like the ones I mentioned above, please read the T&Cs carefully lest you end up paying more than you expected to. Here are the 3 coupon providers I use regularly instead:


1. Groupon

I wrote about how this site helped me to save tons of money in previous posts before. Furthermore, they're a reputable company and some of the deals can be quite value-for-money. Just remember to check the terms and conditions before buying so you know the conditions tied to the deal.

You'll have to pay via credit card or Paypal to Groupon before you can get the deal, and I always have this irrational fear that my card will get over-charged, but thank goodness Groupon hasn't let me down so far.

2. Flipit


You know that field asking you for a promo code when you do a cart check-out? This great website is where you can get those codes!


I was recently asked by FlipIt to contribute a budget beauty tip (you can read the article here) and as a result, got introduced to their money-saving platform which comes with a blog.




They have a cool feature where you can browse by merchants you frequent, and find even more information on when new discounts for that store will appear on the page. I use GrabTaxi for most of my cab bookings, so this was really useful for me.
Some of their coupons which I love.
The best part I like about Flipit is that you don't have to pay or even sign up for a membership before you can use their coupons (unlike the ones above) and they have a deal-spotting team who manually sources and monitors the validity of the codes. Most other coupon sites have automated offers instead which makes it less sincere if you asked me. As a blogger, I also think their savings blog is pretty awesome.


This is a mobile app rather than a website, and their focus is on Buy One Get One Free offers across over 800 restaurants and bars, as well as over 250 travel offers. If you want to spend on a classy restaurant or a 4-star hotel staycation for special occasions, this app really comes in handy.

While the app is free, they only have basic vouchers for you to try out. If you want the full access, you'll have to pay $60 to unlock all their deals. I'm not a fan of paying for coupons, but after trying them out myself, I do think some of their deals can be pretty good. You also visit a merchant up to 3 times for the 1-for-1 promo, or even PING coupons to your friends to exchange for the ones you like better. 


Plus, if you eat at fine-dining restaurants, getting one-for-one can pay off the cost for this app easily in a single sitting. Annual savings can be pretty impressive, so I honestly think the $60 is worth spending.



However, a good practice would be to first check with the merchant before you order. I was at The Canopy a few weeks ago - pretty out of the way, but my best friend and I made the trip there to get the 1-for-1 deal for our brunch - and it turned out that brunch items are not counted as "main course" despite being more expensive. 

I eat brunch pretty often, and
this is the first time I'm being told a brunch item doesn't count as a main.
So we begrudgingly paid. If we had known earlier, we would have chosen to eat at the nearby Grub instead -.-"

I read other bloggers' reviews on this app and realized they only chose to focus on the positive parts of the app (with barely any mention of the price you'll have to pay), so I thought I'd better highlight the limitations to you guys so you can decide for yourself whether the money will be worth it or not. The 1-for-1 offers are apparently not just excluding brunch, but also do not apply for beverages, desserts and shared platters.

Nonetheless, I'm using the app with my friends and boyfriend, so it still makes having it pretty worth it.

If you wish to buy the app's offers, I've also negotiated for a 10% discount code for you guys: 2015BUDGETBABE. 

Disclaimer: I did not get any monetary payments to write this, nor will I be paid or enjoy any other perks from The Entertainer when you use my code.

Are there any other coupon sites you find useful? Do let me know in the comments below!


9 comments:

  1. Yes, only Groupon should be trusted... and maybe shopback for further discount... the rest sounds terrible!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Ellaa, I've not tried Shopback before, what do you like about it?

      Delete
    2. Shopback offers cash rebates for many online retailers (groupon, zalora, lazada are a few popular ones).

      Delete
  2. Hi Bb,

    I prefer qoo10 Haha! The Groupon deals, I found, are not that great a deal. I won't get any staycation deals on Groupon, or travel deals. Too many bad stories from there. As for the restaurants one, I found that when they have a Groupon deal, the standard drops a lot. So.. Pay less get less? Haha

    I already knew about rivalife and it's gang. There's another about ez link top up too floating around in fb. After seeing their terms and conditions, I realised it's the same trick regarding the membership thingy again.

    No free lunch in the world ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi LP,

      What's the ez-link top up thing about?

      I love qoo10 when I have specific things in mind to buy, but Groupon still has some pretty good deals once in a while. I remember getting a package for 4 gym dance classes at only $20 once, and it was a really good experience! The problem comes more with the vendors than Groupon themselves, so I will always do my due diligence and be on hyper-alert when I first visit the vendor with the Groupon...

      Delete
    2. Oh, I saw it on fb.. It's about topping ez Link card to $50 by just using $20. Something like that. In the end, they require u to be a member and you have to wait more than $50 overall. All these are in the fine print of course. I saw it because I saw the sponsored ads on fb and thought that it's too gd to be true haha

      Delete
    3. Oh, I saw it on fb.. It's about topping ez Link card to $50 by just using $20. Something like that. In the end, they require u to be a member and you have to wait more than $50 overall. All these are in the fine print of course. I saw it because I saw the sponsored ads on fb and thought that it's too gd to be true haha

      Delete
    4. Oh, I know which one you're talking about! I saw a sponsored ad for that as well, and knew better than to click. Apparently a lot of my friends were sharing it. Glad you didn't fall for it!

      Delete
  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete