I’ve been reading your series on Tech Crunch about Daily Deals websites and agree with a lot of what you said. However, there are some companies that actually use these “deals” to their advantage to get more money out of people.
Let me share my story. I purchased a 50% off voucher from Travelzoo for a hot air balloon ride for my wife and I. I bought the vouchers back in November and planned on booking the trip for June.
When I called the hot air balloon company, I kept getting an automated system – I never was able to talk to a living person. And when I left a message, they never called back. Their automated system said to press “one” if I was calling to use a Travelzoo, Groupon, LivingSocial or other daily deal voucher. I pressed one and the message directed me to the company website to book my flights.
I went to their website, clicked on the reservations tab and there they had a calendar where they had a drop down menu where I could select a “travel voucher” redemption reservation, or a paid CC reservation. When I selected the voucher redemption, they had NO flights available until the end of the year, well after when my voucher expired. There were a handful of “paid CC reservations” available, but since I already bought the vouchers, I shouldn’t have to pay with a credit card. They didn’t have a separate reservation method/option that separated Groupon from LivingSocial from TravelZoo, etc. They were all lumped together.
After multiple attempts at trying to book a reservation, or getting in touch with the company directly, I called Travelzoo to get a refund. No questions asked, they refunded my money.
Here’s the shady part of the deal: The state of California has a law that requires companies to honor the value of what was paid for the voucher after it expires. In this instance, I would still be able to apply the $178 toward a flight, but would have to pay the difference, another $178. Sneaky. So by deliberately “gaming” the system, and selling more “daily deals” than they could actually accommodate, the company is actually making a lot of money. Of course, they’re also no doubt upsetting people in the process.
I thought you might be interested in seeing a deal where the provider is actually making money.