BBB Advice for Getting Deals on Collective Buying Sites

5/3/2010

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Everyone is looking for ways to pinch pennies and collective buying Web sites are becoming an extremely popular option to save on goods and services from local businesses. Before signing up for the next big deal, Better Business Bureau recommends researching all businesses involved and reading the fine print thoroughly. 

Collective buying sites have become increasingly popular in a short amount of time. Groupon.com, which is a BBB Accredited Business, is one of the pioneers of collective buying and has 2.6 million subscribers. According to Groupon, they have made 1.8 million transactions that saved shoppers 85 million in their relatively short history.

Collective buying sites typically offer one deal every day such as for products or gift cards redeemable at local businesses—including restaurants, retail stores and spas. If enough people sign up to buy it, they’ll get it at a significant discount. If not enough people are interested, the deal is canceled and no one is charged. 

“Collective buying is a great way for businesses to attract new customers and for savvy consumers to land a great deal.” said Alison Southwick, BBB spokesperson. “It can be a win-win situation for everyone involved as long as the customer does their research and understands all of the restrictions and stipulations.”

Before signing up for a deal on a collective buying Web site, BBB recommends that online shoppers:

Check every business with BBB. Not only do you want to research the collective buying Web site with BBB, you also want to research the business that is offering the deal. Look for the BBB Accredited Business seal on both Web sites and only go with businesses that have a good rating with BBB.

Buy what you will use. While the idea of skydiving at half the usual cost sounds like a great deal, if you aren’t actually going to go through with it, you’re wasting your money.  Focus on items and services you’ll use from stores and locations that are close by. If you experience buyer’s remorse, you might not have a way to get your money back.

Read the fine print—all of it. Don’t assume that every deal is like the next.  The fine print on every offer is going to be different because every business has a different policy when it comes to eligibility, expiration dates, refunds, and black-out dates. Read the terms and conditions on the collective buying Web site, the specific terms and conditions listed with the offer and seek out the fine print on the business’s own Web site as well.

For more advice on being a savvy online shopper, visit www.bbb.org.

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