My obsession with group buying

4 February 2011
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Each morning when I check my email, the first ones in there are always my daily deals from the various group-buying websites I’ve signed up to. Something about getting these offers, even if it’s a hair transplant for 70% off or a set of golf clubs for half the price, sets off a buzz of excitement in me.

Maybe I should be getting out more, but I can’t deny my love for a good bargain and the thrill of having a daily choice of deals, at a hugely reduced price, sends me into a wild panic-buying frenzy. I madly forward on emails to my friends convincing them to buy up the same deals – just because then, I get an even bigger discount. 
 
The main problem is I’m quite often panicked into buying something I don’t really want or need and then forget to check the small print. Last year I bought (and convinced a friend to) a sushi meal worth £50 for only £16.  In the rush to book the deal  - and with my mind clouded by thoughts of all those California Rolls I’d be gulping down - I forgot to read any of the details. It was only when I tried to use the voucher a few months later I realised I’d missed the deadline. 
 
The websites offer vouchers with discounts between 50-80% to be used in participating shops/restaurants etc. The deals require a minimum amount of people to sign up before they go live, and they usually expire within six months.
 
Groupon (the first website of its kind) has been described as “the world’s fastest-growing company” and new companies are popping up all over the place. There are five or six I’m registered with, including Groupola, Living Social, and some city-specific sites like Crowdity.
 
It’s not just entertainment/leisure-related vouchers either. Incahoot offers group buying on utilities so members can secure long-term deals with home suppliers, and both Facebook and Google are launching similar sites.
 
If you’re a bargain hunter at heart, group buying is an exciting world of discounts and money saving. Just learn from my mistake, don’t get pressured to buy just because of the discount and always read the small print.