A daily bargain...or is it? 

TreatMe and GrabOne are just two of the multitude of daily deal sites which have sprung up in the last few years. They offer bargains on a wide range of goods and services, which are sold in the form of vouchers.

Unfortunately sometimes it turns out these deals aren’t so good after all.

We’ve all heard about the woman who bought a voucher dinner for two at a fancy restaurant, only to find that it expired in a couple of weeks and she couldn’t get a booking before the deadline. 

Another poor consumer bought a voucher for a “dental check-up” for $50 and ended up with a bill of over $100 on top of the cost of the original voucher! It turned out that his check-up included a surprise visit to a hygienist, whose $100-plus fee was an unwelcome additional cost.

There are of course plenty of great bargains to be had from these daily deal sites, as long as you follow a few basic rules:

  1. Remember that the daily deal site is creating a sense of urgency in you, so that you are more likely to buy on impulse. Think about whether you really do need or even want that product.
  2. Check to make sure it is a genuine bargain; sometimes you can get the same or a better deal without the restrictive terms and conditions that come with these sorts of deals. It’s easy to quickly search the Internet to find out how the much the same thing usually costs, and how much it costs from a different provider. If it looks like the discount advertised has been exaggerated, you can make a complaint to the Commerce Commission (you can call them on 0800 943 600) as they could be in breach of the Fair Trading Act.
  3. If you’ve never traded with particular site before, try to find out about other people’s experiences of that site – ask your friends or search the Internet for reviews.
  4. Make sure you look carefully at all the terms and conditions - and do so before you buy! We commonly see people caught out by expiry dates, or conditions on when you can access the service you’ve bought.
  5. Even bargains are covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act. If your super-cheap new iPhone stops working after 12 months, you still have the right to have it repaired or replaced. Also, the deal site is responsible for sorting out the problem and they can’t just fob you off to deal with the provider, even if their terms and conditions say otherwise.
  6. It’s worth knowing that if you’ve got a voucher for a service, and you’re finding it hard to make an appointment before it expires, you can ask the daily deal site for a refund or an extension on the expiry date.
  7. Above all remember the golden rule… if it looks too good to be true it probably is!

If you think you've been ripped off by a daily deal, you can always get help and advice from your local CAB.