Deals at Living Social
LivingSocial has the hot deals
Everyone wants a bargain. There was one person who didn't care about saving money, but she lost her job and her house in the recession and now she's just like the rest of us. LivingSocial points the way to daily deals, price cuts, deep discounts and 1/2 off coupons that make everyone's life easier. It's incredibly easy to sign up and begin saving.
These bargain are extremely local. Instead of offering deep discounts on items with national appeal, this site supports local merchants providing goods and services to their neighbors. The coupons are various and attractive, as long as you live nearby.
We wanted to learn more about the site, so we did a little investigating. What we found may surprise you. The site provides deals, but also includes a few unexpected twists and turns.
The deals are hidden?
Visiting the LivingSocial home page reveals little about frugal shopping. In order to gain access to any 'big deals', visitors must provide basic demographic information. It's interesting: Google doesn't need to know who you are or where you are as a pretext for providing access to their search engine. On the other hand, perhaps LivingSocial simply wants to ensure that their customers are serious about saving money.
In order to visit the inner sanctum of daily deals, visitors to the LivingSocial site must provide:
- A city,
- A valid email address, and
- A reference.
A specific city allows LivingSocial to delve into its' database and filter out offers that might be too far away to be of any legitimate use. For example, a daily deal on a car wash in Kokomo offers little value to a consumer ensconced in Chicago.
An email address allows LivingSocial to verify the existence of the visitor, or not. Our visit to the site remained anonymous: we entered a valid email address, but it was not validated. We did not receive a confirmation request before we began browsing the deals.
A reference is an extremely useful tool for LivingSocial as they plan their next marketing strategy. Knowing where their customers come from eliminates guesswork when the time comes to allocate advertising dollars. If the majority of visitors to the web site were referred by Google, then perhaps putting up more highway billboards might not be money well spent.
What deal did we get?
In the spirit of 'daily deals', we were presented with an attractive opportunity to take Zumba lessons at a local studio. We sit in font of a computer screen all day: we have no clue what Zumba is. Surely the studio would help us with that issue.
The offer threatened to expire in 20 hours. According to the real-time (?) information provided on the web page, 20 people had already jumped on the deal. Perhaps they will all take a class together and then retire to a local Starbucks for luscious biscotti. No upper limit was published, but we suspect that the studio would be horrified to learn that thousands of erstwhile exercisers were holding discount coupons purchased on LivingSocial.com. An upper limit was probably buried somewhere in the fine print.
Supposedly, the actual retail price of the package was $44 and the discounted daily deal was $24. That's a hefty $20 markdown.
Ever used Priceline? One heavy disadvantage of the "Name your own price" feature of Priceline is the fact that the hotel is not revealed until the deal is done. On the other hand, LivingSocial clearly identifies the vendor right up front. All necessary information is made available. We knew the name and precise location of the Zumba studio before we spent a penny. We could have called them to inquire about a dress code before pulling the trigger on the daily deal.
Wait! There's More!
No daily deal site would be complete without more than one daily deal. A time-limited offer inspires a sense of purchasing urgency. Given that these deals are extremely narrow and focused, it makes sense to include more than one deal per day.
Our second deal offered a 50% discount on meals at a local establishment. For $15 we cold secure $30 of goods and services. Conceivably, we could eat, drink, and be merry, then exercise away our cholesterol at a Zumba class. The deals dovetail.
The fine print was reasonable:
- Limit one per person
- Limit one per table per visit
- Dine-in only
- Gratuity not included (Be nice and tip on the pre-discounted total!)
- Entire value must be used
- Other conditions apply
- Promotional value expires on December 28, 2011
"Other conditions apply" could mean that you'll be sitting in the kitchen, but we doubt it. The expiration date is 6 months away: that's fair.
Don't Bother with the Past Deals
LivingSocial thoughtfully offers up memories of deals expired: don't waste your time. The deals really are expired. There's no second-chance or last-minute opportunity. Unless you simply have the urge to feel bad about yourself, these pages are a dose of frustration.
Obviously, you could virtually reminisce about how you might have spent your lottery winnings, but these long-gone deals are clearly labeled with accusatory "You Missed It" banners. Shopping is supposed to be fun, not guilt-ridden.
LivingSocial fills a niche for local deal-seekers. Not everyone needs a 60" plasma TV or a bottle of pomegranate juice. Sometimes we just want to eat out or exercise with other hipsters.