Saturday, October 22, 2011
Paint the Town Red for Half Price
Who doesn’t like a weekend on the town, on even a night? Only problem is that it can cost plenty. One new way that can take the bite out of painting the town red is social entertainment sites including Groupon, LivingSocial and Bloomspot. These sites offer 50% off better deals on local dining, events, even travel destination resorts. There is also restaurant.com that deals only with restaurants. How do these sites work and are they as good as they sound?
First of all, you need to go online and sign up for email alerts. It is as simple as going to: www.groupon.com. The site sends daily postings of what promos are going on in your area. The company, which offers the promotion has to sell so many coupons/certificates before the offer is valid. It is usually a small number like 20 or 40. The seller also caps the number of certificates sold to not lose money too. That’s why a daily email is helpful because a deal you might want can be gone by the time you even decide to see what offers are out there.
There are all sorts of things advertised such as golf outings, dinner, merchandise, even pole dancing. You won’t like everything. I’ve been using it for about a year now and it has saved me hundreds of dollars. It has also opened my eyes to different things to do in the area I never knew about from ghost walks to mystery dinner theatre. Things I wouldn’t have tried unless they were deeply discounted.
The certificates are relatively simple to use. Depending on if you purchase an online item you type in the promo code and your item is sent to you. If you are going to attend something then you print out your certificate. If your event requires reservations, it if up to you to still make them.
Restaurant.com works about the same way, except it is only for restaurants. You usually buy gift certificates for $25 or $50 depending on how expensive the restaurant is. These certificates can be as low as $2 or $10 depending on the special they are running. I’ve used these several times without trouble, but make sure you read the small print. Some restaurants will not let you use them on holidays or weekends. The usual amount you are expected to spend to use the coupon is $38 and you should still tip the server based on actual bill. Your $40 bill might end up costing you $17, not including the tip.
It all sounds good. What do you need to watch out for? I would always call first before driving to a restaurant with a restaurant.com certificate. I have found that restaurants who were trying to drive business to their place by using promos close suddenly. I have also had restaurant owners tell me they quit honoring restaurant.com certificates because it cost them too much. This has only happened twice out of dozens of uses.
As for Groupon.com, I had a concert I bought tickets for cancel at the last minute. I received a full refund from groupon. I did have one restaurant go out of business that I never was able to use my certificate for and receive a full refund on that (much better results than restaurant.com.) I had one company Picaboo photos that advertised for a calendar and photo books at a reduced price, but failed to honor it. Groupon refunded money as soon as I contacted them.
Groupon.com has saved me tons of money on going out. I’ve also used them to buy Christmas gifts greatly reduced. As for the other sites like Living Social and Bloomspot, I haven’t tried them yet since they’ve never have anything I am interested in, but they might have something you like. Give them a look.