How many of you use coupon or deal sites to get specials on dining out, spas, hair or fashion? Since Groupon started and succeeded so well with their paid coupon service, many competitor sites have flooded the market. Now we have Groupon, Living Social (the number two coupon site for deals), YP (Yellow Pages) deals, Amazon deals, Trubates, Spaphile (for Spa deals), Gilt City and Google Offers to name just a few. I’m rather mercenary in my use of these coupon/deal services. Basically, if there is a deal I like that is unique, I will buy it from the service with the best prices that are convenient to my area. However, I have to admit that I use Groupon the most for deals, followed by Living Social. One thing I like about Groupon is that they have always refunded the purchase price (Groupon NOW deals are refundable if not used, expired Groupons will usually be honored by the merchant) on a coupon I haven’t used. Likewise, merchants that I had expired Groupon deals with have usually continued to honor the deals. With the plethora of deal sites, beyond customer service like Groupon offers, how can the sites distinguish themselves? Well, by offering VIP services of course. Both Groupon and Living Social have emailed “special groups” of their customers and offered them VIP services for an extra fee. Groupon is offering their VIP service for $30.00 while close competitor Living Social is offering theirs for $20.00 per month. Living Social Plus is a monthly fee of $20.00 per month, but you get $25.00 of deal bucks to spend each month, which will be credited to your account if you don’t use them. The Groupon VIP service is $30.00 per year (now in beta) and is all about getting early access to deals, before they are open to the public, and may sell out.
What do you think readers? Would you pay extra for your coupon deals? Or does paying a bit more detract from your overall savings? The Living Social VIP offer is open via their website, while Groupon’s VIP service was by email invite to select subscribers.