I bought a couple hours of jet ski rentals on Groupon back in February in what amounted to a two-for-one deal, and was finally ready to redeem them this week.
I called Star Island Watersports (the seller of the offer) four times in two days, even leaving (unreturned) voice messages, before they finally answered on my fifth call this morning.
The woman who answered politely informed me of the price of the jet ski rentals. So they had jet skis available. Upon telling her that I had a Groupon voucher to redeem, the tone of her conversation changed.
She told me they weren’t accepting any Groupon redemptions for two weeks.
Their discount offer on Groupon has apparently been “trending” and selling well, so they accept only 15 Groupon reservations per day until anyone else calling with Groupon vouchers is “rolled over” to the next available day — and they’re two weeks backed up.
I questioned the woman on Star Island Watersports’ methods. They would sell me a rental at full price, but not honor my Groupon for the exact same service? Sounds like dishonest business to me (though a part of me somewhat understands; I’ve read articles about how not-great Groupon deals are for the businesses who offer them— read that article and just google “Groupon bad for business”). The woman on the phone said Star Island Watersports gets 400 Groupon-redeeming calls per day.
Nothing I could do change her stance. I hung up and requested a call from Groupon (who makes it tricky to find their contact info — probably on purpose) and phone range almost immediately.
The Overseas-outsourced, English-as-a-second-language customer service rep who called me initially hit me with the company policy response: After a 72-hour window from date of purchase, Groupons can only be traded for Groupon credit; no refunds are given.
Hell fucking no.
I resisted the “policy,” telling the woman that the vendor (Star Island Watersports) had refused my Groupon. And, since Groupon has sold it to me, I wanted my money refunded in full — fuck Groupon bucks. The rep resisted lightly, and after seeing that I wasn’t interested in a compromise, processed my refund.
Both companies — Star Island Watersports and Groupon — are guilty of bad business here.
Groupon chokes the life out of businesses who offer deals, as the business sells their goods and services for (at least) half price on Groupon, not even counting Groupon’s 50% (!!!) cut of the sale. So a business owner sees $25 on the sale of a $100 product (read this article). That’s a good way to go out of business.
Ever been to a cash advance store? If no, keep it that way. If yes, know that Groupon is the coupon version of that, for the business and the customer.
Star Island Watersports clearly has inventory available — the woman quoted me a price — but wouldn’t reserve a Groupon user. I know why: Star Island Watersports doesn’t see a dime of their Groupon sales until the offer ends. So if they take a day full of Groupon users, they’re seeing exactly zero dollars in receipts. A (half-) dollar in hand is better than two dollars in the bush. So while I get the policy from their side, it’s terrible for customer relations. Their Facebook and Yelp reviews will reflect this over time (I’ll surely help). Star Island Watersports basically checkmated themselves.
While I can see the despair of the situation, nobody forced Star Island Watersports to get in bed with Groupon. And the woman who answered the phone at Star Island Watersports wasn’t a very nice person.
But you know who made the biggest mistake in all of this? Me.
For Your Game
- When you buy cheap shit, you’re buying cheap shit. I talked about this in episode #438 of my podcast, and must have forgotten my own advice. Coupons, Groupons and discounts offerings need to make up that lost revenue somehow — usually it’s in shitty service and restrictive rules on how you can take advantage of the offers.
- Cheap, discounted offerings target cheap, discounted people. As I said a couple days ago, kids sometimes ask me for discounts on my products — the answer is always (and will always be) no. You know what happens when you offer discounts? Those bottom-feeding buyers bring the most headaches: Complaints, refund requests, and a general nickel-and-dime mentality. In other words, cheap buyers are not worth the money you make from their purchases. Trust me, or learn the hard way. Keep your prices high with The Seller’s Mindset.
- High-Quality people charge full price — and they pay full price. A hard fact, as I found my meal delivery service (who I’ve been with since 2014) on Groupon. I told you what happens when people think they can offer you whatever they figure you’ll accept: your value is whittled down to nothing. I deleted the Groupon app off my phone this morning. Anything I could get there, I could still get — minus the shenanigans. Your belief needs to stay high-level to make this real; ASAP Confidence will do that for you.
What are your experiences with buying (or selling) cheap? How long did it take for you to find out it wasn’t worth it (because I know that’s what happened)? Reply and let me know.