Do you have ‘Groupon Remorse’?

I have many friends using Groupons, and other similar group discount sites, and they always seem very happy with the deals they are getting. They post links on Facebook for the deals so other friends can take advantage of low prices at restaurants, movies, spas or other products. reports sites such as Groupon, BuyWithMe, DealSwarm, LivingSocial are projected to pull- in $5 billion this year.

But there is also an ancillary industry building up around these sites — the resale market for coupons that seemed like a great deal at the time but then the person realizes they really aren’t going to use it: it’s called “Groupon Remorse.”

From Time:

“How often do group-coupon buyers suffer “Groupon remorse,” as the Globe calls it—when the initial sensation of “What a deal!” is followed by “Why did I buy that?” It’s hard to get an answer there. The coupon sites don’t reveal redemption rates, though one store owner interviewed in the Boston Globe story was told by two daily deal site reps that 20% to 30% of purchased coupons are never used. Mind you, it’s in the interests of both the deal sites and the businesses featured for redemption rates to be as low as possible: That’s money earned for no services rendered whatsoever.

“It’s easy to see how a coupon enthusiast might find it hard to use the occasional coupon, especially since they typically expire within a few months, and since they’re often bought on a whim. But the Globe chronicles some coupon buyers who completely went overboard and are swimming in coupons they’ll never use. One woman made a spreadsheet to track all of her coupon purchases and their expiration dates.”

“Why in the world do people feel compelled to snap up “bargains” they clearly don’t need, and that stand a good chance of never even using?”

“These daily deal sites have managed to bring excitement of the classic “limited-time only” marketing scheme to a whole ‘nother level. These deals make people feel special—that they’re on the inside, that they’re smart and savvy. What with the time constraints involved, there’s the risk of losing out if you don’t act quickly. And who wants to miss out on the chance to feel special, smart, and savvy?”

Time adds:

“There’s an expansive 12-part series on Groupon at RetailDoc, which was written mainly to warn businesses of the downsides of doing business with daily deal sites, but that also offers some insight as to why consumers go nuts for these deals:”

“In a depersonalized world where many are anxious about their jobs, their finances and their relationships, shoppers who use coupons are, by extension made to feel smart. “See how much money I saved,” is a way to say ‘I’m no fool.’”

I clicked on a Groupon link a friend posted yesterday for a half-price subscription to the AJC. The clock really does make you want to buy, buy, buy! And I did feel compelled to share the link too. (I was pulled away from my desk before I emailed it out to others but you do want to share the deal you found!)

I haven’t used Groupon or Deal Swarm (yet), but I think consumers can have similar experiences at stores like Costco. There’s no physical clock ticking down but you see these amazing deals and want to get it before you leave the store – do you really need 40 Capri Suns for $7? Do you really need a 3-lb bag of wings for $12 (examples are approximate)? But you’re there and you kind of feel like “Oh, I better snap that up.” So I don’t think it’s just on the group deal sites.

Are you using group deal sites? Which ones do you use the most? What have you bought on the sites? Have you taken advantage of every coupon you have bought? Have you ever had “Groupon Remorse?” Have you resold any of the items you bought? Have you wished you could resale?
– Therea Walsh Giarrusso, AJC Momania

40 comments Add your comment


March 10th, 2011
9:05 am

I really like Groupon and so far have used everything I’ve bought. That being said, I don’t buy stuff THAT often. I’ve probably bought 7 things in the past year. 3 of the items were for the same company and I ended up buying two as gifts (Canvas on Demand).

I was pretty disappointed with Half-Off though b/c I bought discount tickets for Bodies The Exhibit and two months later when I went to use them, I clicked on the file to print only to find out they had expired! There was no expiration date prominent in the “summary” view of items I’d purchased so I didn’t even realize they would expire so quickly until I went to print them.

Fremont's 47 Year Old Midget

March 10th, 2011
9:06 am

Don’t mess with my 3 pound bag of chicken wings. I WILL become violent.
You big people have NO idea what a chicken wing means to a grumpy midget that looks UP to 3rd graders. Now, we have suburban trainwreck moms after our bag of wings. NEVER!


March 10th, 2011
9:21 am

I love Groupon and HalfOff, but as with any other “sale”, I don’t buy unless I need it. I’ve gotten $55 oil change/tire rotation/fluid replacement/windshield wipers packages for $20 — I bought four of those, and used all of them over the course of three months for our four cars. I got to try a ritzy car wash that is “regularly $45″ for $9 (and they did do a really nice job). I’ve also gotten half-price whitewater rafting tickets on the Ocoee which were a lot of fun, I’m not much into spas and that sort of stuff, so I just click on by those. I’ve gotten a lot pickier about my coupons, and don’t buy them unless I know we are going in the next couple of weeks — the restrictions on those often don’t fit our schedule, and I did waste $50 buying for a couple of restaurants that we usually go to, but just didn’t get around to/forgot about.


March 10th, 2011
9:37 am

I only get them for things that I would be spending money on anyway. For example, I got my hair done yesterday with a groupon that I waited about a month to find the best deal on. I got one for a huge reduction at a photobook company to use as wedding gifts for my parents. Bought one yesterday for a restaurant that we already go to, just to save money for the next time. It’s really helpful for things like that, but there are definitely deals that might look good but just aren’t worth it if you don’t do those things anyway.


March 10th, 2011
9:51 am

I love Groupon, Half Off & Living Social.I only buy the ones we’ll definitely use, and so far it’s been great! In fact, this afternoon, I’m headed for a heated stone massage that normally costs me $100, but I got this one for $40! Scoutmob is the best though, because it’s free!


March 10th, 2011
10:12 am

I actually bought one this morning for 1/2 price at a restaurant by my job that I love but don’t frequent because it costs a little more than I like to spend on lunch. It doesn’t expire for a year but I will probably use it week to treat a coworker to lunch. I try to use them quickly because I’m afraid that I’ll forget about it and let it expire.


March 10th, 2011
10:25 am

One sure fire way not to have Groupon remorse is to use Scoutmob. With Scoutmob you don’t pay for the discount upfront…meaning that if you use the discount great but if you don’t get around to it…nothing is lost.


March 10th, 2011
10:42 am

Just stay away from my harvest america everyone. They have great marketing but a lot of people are lose big bucks this year.


March 10th, 2011
10:55 am

I definitely use Scoutmob, and I have used when they have the 80% off sale at the end of each month (get a $25 certificate for normally $10, then with 80% off only $2 for a $25 certificate) – is good for a year too.

Groupon, I maybe buy once a month. I do use Redbox pretty often & they had a 3/$1 groupon, so why not. I also subscribe to the AJC on Sundays, so did buy the one yesterday. I have also used some of those Groupons for online wine orders (Recently got six $15-$20 bottles of wine for the equivalent of $7 a bottle out of pocket – including shipped to my front door with none of the high alcohol taxes GA charges).

But usually I will only buy a Groupon if it is something that I absolutely know I want to use or have already been thinking about doing (and the Groupon is then just a bonus or a nudge for me to go). Scoutmob, though, still rules all!


March 10th, 2011
10:59 am

Love Groupon and Living Social – gets us out to places we might normally go. I don’t care fore – seems we end up spending much more when we use those coupons – almost like the coupon is the tip itself.


March 10th, 2011
11:00 am

I used my groupon or half off depot certificare very close to the end of the promotion at Parish and was seated separately from the regular diners and asked to wait 45 minutes when there were table savailable in their non-Groupon seating.

I WILL NEVER go there again!!!


March 10th, 2011
11:03 am

Look at Groupon daily — buy ahead for birthdays and Christmas, use restaurant coupons when it’s one I really want to try or one that I know of. I’m really good at NOT clicking on things I’ll never use. Have given some as gifts when I know the recipient will use them, and only then. Will be checking other sites you’ve mentioned.


March 10th, 2011
11:13 am

It is easy to forget to read the fine print. I bought the AJC Groupon coupon yesterday. When I printed the coupon, I realized it was only for the Sunday paper. I subscribe to the AJC everyday, so now I do not think I will be able to use the coupon.


March 10th, 2011
11:43 am

We use Groupon but only purchase the “deals” that we know we will actually use. We’ve been doing this for a while now and, I guess, we are pleased with what we’ve purchased – honestly have really given it no thought until now.

Big Mike

March 10th, 2011
11:55 am

If any of you ladies would like a groupon for a day of excitement, let me know. Let’s get your Honda Pilot rockin. what do you think?


March 10th, 2011
12:01 pm

I really LOVE Groupon, and have successfully used their services for several years. It’s been a great adventure exploring many of the restaurants I would not have found it it wasn’t for Groupon. Also used Groupons for a zip line, skeet shooting, horseback riding and sky diving without a single problem. Those other sites are imitations of the original – Groupon rules!


March 10th, 2011
12:15 pm

It is easy to forget to read the fine print. I bought the AJC Groupon coupon yesterday. When I printed the coupon, I realized it was only for the Sunday paper


Read the fine print? The fact that it was a Sunday only deal was in the HEADLINE for all to see.


March 10th, 2011
12:26 pm

I buy groupons for restaurants Where I would eat anyway.

Just Sayin'

March 10th, 2011
12:37 pm

I subscribe to several of the Groupon type sites and just buy deals that I or others in the family might use. And Costco, just love it! There are things I buy all the time, so love the discount. I admit when I first started going in there I wanted to go crazy and did a little bit, but it has become my 3rd supermarket that I visit once or twice a week. Got to get the deals and save where you can.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 10th, 2011
12:43 pm

Amazon Red — i looked at that same one and I swear I didn’t notice it was Sunday only — I wish I could see the write up again =– I don’t know how I would miss that

Eric Johnson

March 10th, 2011
12:46 pm

We love Groupon, Living Social, and Scoutmob! It is a great way to try a new restaurant or for a place that you already like. I used to like Half Off Depot until a recent problem I had with them. I bought two of the Whirl Helicopter Tours to enjoy with my dad, well I guess they went out of business and Half Off Depot failed to let me know this and when I called to verify (Zack) was very rude and said that was not his problem to keep up with companies that go out of business that you buy certificates for so buyer BEWARE!!


March 10th, 2011
12:51 pm

@Theresa – Here’s the original link:

The headline reads “$30 for a Six-Month Sunday Subscription to the “Atlanta Journal-Constitution”


March 10th, 2011
1:41 pm

The only negative Groupon experience I’ve had was when I went online to print out a coupon at 6pm on Friday night and the site was down because of hwo much traffic they get now. I was able to e-mail them and get my coupon, but it did waste about 5 minutes and caused a little more stress than necessary. I have exactly one time had to go out to dinner one night because my coupon was expiring. And the Hearth is a really nice place, so I’m glad I went. I’ve been to about 10 restaurants I wouldn’t have otherwise gone to because they had good Groupon deals. I’ve tried out 5 different pizza places. If you’re so bad at planning ahead that you can’t figure out whether you’ll use something before it expires, you have a lot more problems then having wasted 10 bucks on 25 dollars worth of pizza… And you’re probably one of those people who pays the water bill late every month and wastes $15 in late fees.


March 10th, 2011
3:14 pm

Can we PLEASE have a fun topic tomorrow?????? We did a recipe exchange a while ago…..

[...] subside: Groupon isn’t a usually one holding advantage of a allure of a eye-popping deal, says Theresa Walsh Giarrusso during The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Discount warehouses such as Costco offer bargains that make shoppers think, “Oh, we improved [...]


March 10th, 2011
4:42 pm

Purchased great deals on Groupon that I never would have ordinarily bought: acupuncture treatments, laser treatment, heat wrap. Also purchased house cleaning service, gutter cleaning service. All the vendors were wonderful, courteous and I enjoyed meeting these businesses.


March 10th, 2011
5:00 pm

No groupon remorse, but I did have livingsocial unfulfillment. I ordered a service on one of the livingsocial daily deals, called to make an appointment for the service, no answer, voice mailbox full, waited a week, called again, no answer, left a voicemail with my contact information and my desire to schedule an appointment, waited a week, no reply, called again, 3 times, different times of day, all voicemail. Called livingsocial and asked for a refund as I was unable to schedule service with the provider, they obliged with no problem. I will NOT be making a living social or groupon purchase for a service again.


March 10th, 2011
5:46 pm

I thought the 50% off circumcision was a good deal at first, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like it was a little too much.


March 10th, 2011
7:50 pm

cooking-recipes-time saving kitchen tips…all sound like good topics to me.


March 10th, 2011
10:37 pm

@jarvis, LMAO

[...] subside: Groupon isn’t the only one taking advantage of the allure of the eye-popping deal, says Theresa Walsh Giarrusso at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Discount warehouses such as Costco offer bargains that make shoppers think, “Oh, I better [...]


March 11th, 2011
6:49 am

Im waiting for a good income tax groupon. Then I remembered the EITC! yay!

Fremont's 47 Year Old Midget™

March 11th, 2011
7:01 am

I like wings! Yummy!

Appointment warning

March 11th, 2011
10:45 am

I bought a Groupon for an oil change and “the works” but when I called two days later, I was told the next available appointment was 5 weeks later. Obviously, I couldn’t wait to change my oil so I scheduled for the end of the 6-month period when I (hopefully) will need another oil change. So, let that be a general warning: don’t wait until the last minute to use your discount (especially for services, but also for restaurants); there might not be appointments left or the restaurant might be a zoo!


March 11th, 2011
11:30 am
FTD, Groupon get complaints, offer flower refunds
FTD, Groupon get complaints that flower deal wasn’t sweet; offer refunds to end confusion
The online coupon site and flower company FTD Group Inc. are offering refunds after getting complaints that a Valentine’s Day flower deal wasn’t so sweet.

Both companies said they didn’t do anything wrong, but they responded to Internet complaints that FTD inflated prices for some Groupon customers who used a coupon for $20 off an FTD flower purchase of $40 or more.

The problem surfaced when several Groupon customers found the flowers they bought were priced lower as sale items on FTD’s own website


March 11th, 2011
3:15 pm

Groupon is like anything else. You have to make sure that you are buying something that you would normally buy and that the “deal” is a better one than you would get anywhere else.


March 11th, 2011
4:07 pm

Half Off Depot is very good, and I have used their coupons for 3 different restaurants in Atlanta. Unlike, their coupons can be applied to the entire bill (i.e. alcohol,) w/o minimum purchase requirements. My only question is this: wasn’t Half Off Depot supposed to be a semi-barter site for the ‘Sunday News’? (Half off Depot sold certificates and the revenue would count as print advertising $ in the paper?) Now that the publication is no more, what is the incentive for a business to do Half Off Depot?

Small Business Owner

March 11th, 2011
11:32 pm

I personally try not to buy groupon coupons, especially when service is a major part of the purchase. People treat you different when you walk into a spa, restaurant, salon, etc w/ a 50% off coupon (of which they are only getting 50% as well) and there are full paying customers there as well. Additionally, as a small business owner I would never discount my product/service to the public by 50%. When small businesses do that they A. Train their customer base to wait until you have a groupon offer again and B. you dilute your brand. Essentially you are telling the market that your product/service isn’t really worth it’s ‘normal’ price.


March 12th, 2011
10:18 am

Love Groupon! Something that many may overlook is that most (all?) groupons retain their initial purchase price value if they pass the expiration date.

I tested this last year when I paid $25 for $50 worth of merchandise at Gap. Fast forward a few months, and I was still able to use the groupon for $25 worth of merchandise even though it was past the expiration date, so even though I didn’t get the bargain, the initial investment wasn’t lost.

Groupon also offers a guarantee on their site that is pretty amazing. They want you happy with the purchase.

To address the original point of this article, I have made a few of those “why did I buy that” purchases. Nothing earth shattering in the big scheme of things. I would not have been considering buying a few of the items they’ve presented, but after seeing the ad, I think, “Why not? That sounds great!” I have to think twice, and walk away more often than not. I can see why this could easily get out of hand for some folks.


March 17th, 2011
12:18 pm

Love hearing about all the value everyone is getting from their daily deals. If you need an easy way to digitally keep track of your deals, take a look at We let you keep all your deals in one ‘wallet.’ And, we will remind you when the deals are going to expire.