Photo: By CarbonNYC on Flickr
Dirt cheap admission to the Guggenheim for $9: Got it.Half-off that fancy French bistro I always pass on the way to the laundromat: Pourquoi non?
Hello, my name is Mandi Woodruff and I used to be a Groupon addict. It has been three months since I purchased my last deal.
The problem with all these deals is that they don’t last forever. Some, like that trip to the Guggenheim, expired after only a few weeks and others simply weren’t time-sensitive enough for me to worry about redeeming them before it was too late.
After I dropped the ball on five of the suckers, I decided it was time to ween myself off the site altogether. Until now.
There are ways you can get those expired deals back—or at least part of them. The company’s policy states that all deals should be redeemed at least at face value after they’ve expired, according to a spokesperson.
Unfortunately, business owners aren’t always the most receptive when it comes to hacking off the prices of their services. It may take a little finesse and some sound negotiation skills on your part, but redeeming expired deals is entirely possible. Here’s how.
New York City resident Kevin Cafaro didn't let an expired Groupon get in the way of the meal he paid for.
He took one look at the girl behind the cash register at his local sandwich shop and knew that was his way to victory.
'I turned my friendly (charm) on, made some cheesy flirty jokes, and played dumb that I didn't realise it had expired,' he said. 'I must have gotten on her good side because she looked around, gave me the 'shush' sign, and put the order through.'
The takeaway: Turn on the charm a little. It's your fault you missed the expiration date, so don't be high and mighty when you're arguing for an extension.
Danya P. Bushéy, of Virginia Beach, Va., had to argue her way to redeem an expired Groupon at her local organic market.
Before heading to the shop, she checked the fine print on Groupon's site and learned the deal should be worth however much consumers pay for it, regardless of the expiration date.
But the market's computer system wouldn't honour the deal, she said, and it took 10 minutes to figure out a solution.
'Fortunately, the cashier was very nice and they honored my original investment,' she said. 'It makes me question whether it will be worth the hassle in the future, and whether other business owners are aware of this non-expiration policy.'
The takeaway: Know your rights and be prepared to stand your ground.
California resident Kristen Hinman learned this the hard way.
Hinman purchased a deal at a local hair salon and called two months in advance to set up an appointment before it expired. But when she couldn't work around the salon's packed weekend schedule, she wound up missing out on the deal altogether.
'I asked if they would schedule an appointment for me the week after the expiration date but still honour it since I was calling so far in advance,' she said. 'The answer was no.'
The takeaway: You're more likely to use Groupons if you take time to really decide whether you'll have a shot at redeeming it. If the deal requires an appointment, call in advance to check their availability.
Matt Brogan, an avid golfer, said he scours sites regularly for the best deals on hitting the green. He and his friends stock up on all the best golf deals at the beginning of the year and plan to use them throughout the summer, he said.
'Usually, I buy four (deals) because most golfing groups include four people,' he said. 'However, you can't always find four friends that can golf on certain weekends and I started finding myself with one or two extra.'
Rather than let the deal expire and eat the expense, he started looking for ways to trade his Groupon for another. Enter Swap.com, a site that lets users exchange just about anything--from DVDs to daily deals like Brogan's golf deal -- with other users.
'During the season most golfers upgrade equipment to get the latest technology or they win clubs in raffles at tournaments, so I am hoping one of them will scoop up my remaining rounds for something extra that they have,' he said.
The takeaway: Ask friends or coworkers if they've got a deal they're willing to trade.
California resident Edgar Mejia and his wife realised while they were travelling that they were about to miss out on a $50 Korean barbecue dinner.
His wife called up the restaurant and they were warmly granted an extension, just as long as they were willing to make a reservation in advance.
'We showed up, and they did have our name on a list,' Mejia said. 'They asked us to wait for a table at the bar, and host even suggested drinks for us.'
But all smiles faded when the bill came, he said. The manager had deducted half the value of the voucher along with an additional $5 'expiration fee.'
The takeway: Don't be surprised if the business tries to eat a chunk of the deal with a penalty for letting it expire. Calmly explain Groupon's policy, and if they're unreceptive, contact the company directly.
The problem with deals sites like Groupon is that they attract hundreds and sometimes thousands of customers to a certain business.
When you get in line with the masses to redeem your deal or book an appointment, you might get pushed to the way-side or told to call back. This makes the odds of the coupon slipping your mind all that greater.
This happened several times to Sarah Schneider, who was peeved after several of her Groupon deals for pilates classes expired because of maxed out classes
'Remembering at the last minute is as good as forgetting, because when you call to book an appointment the merchant is invariably full right up until the expiration of the Groupon,' she said. 'Everyone else is also rushing to redeem it before expiration and has booked before you.'
Rather than pout, she and her husband decided to do something about it.
The result of their chagrin was Couptivate, a website that aggregates all your daily deal coupons and pumps reminders to your email so you'll be less likely to forget about them.
'I'm an avid purchaser of daily deals and have had a number of them expire or had the merchant go out of business,' Schneider said. 'Couptivate helps purchasers overcome this problem.'
When Genevieve Douglass realised her Groupon for a New Orleans furniture store had expired, she boldly approached the business anyway. Lucky for her, they were more than happy to honour the deal.
'I ended up using the Groupon last month and the store honored it for the purchased amount of $40,' Douglass said. She walked away with $100 worth of goods.
Not bad, but not all consumers have her luck.
Scott Rubel was turned away at a Pasadena, Calif. restaurant when he tried to use an expired Groupon.
'I think I was being very fair,' Rubel said. 'I presented it and pointed out that it expired, and explained that it could still be used at face value. I believe this is not only good business, but it's the law, at least in California.'
The story had a happy ending. Groupon credited his account for the value of the deal and he was satisfied. But it was bad business for the restaurant, which he said he won't be revisiting anytime soon.
The takeaway: Before you chalk up those expired deals as a lost cause, it never hurts to ask. If you get the cold shoulder, take the matter to Groupon and let them deal with it.
Heidi Waterfield, of San Francisco, Calif., purchased a Groupon for a home cleaning service, but the company's schedule was booked to the max and they wouldn't budge. The expiration date came and went.
So, she called for reinforcements--the Groupon team itself.
The company quickly obliged, calling up the cleaning service to try to get the deadline for the deal extended, she said.
'Apparently the service told Groupon they would call me but never did,' Waterfield said. 'So Groupon just credited my Groupon account.'
The takeaway: Let the company behind the deal take care of any sticky situations. They have more clout and businesses will probably be quicker to act.