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The trouble with those voucher deals around Canberra.

By ellabella 10 August 2011 24

Be warned – Daily deal voucher redemption is not as straightforward as you might assume.

Recently, a problem has been revealed that involved a reputable voucher website offering a deal on behalf of a regional mobile mechanic. Almost two months ago around 3000 vouchers were sold nationwide for a Major Car Service plus cleaning through LivingSocial.com, but most buyers have not been able to redeem these vouchers.

The merchant responsible was The Go To Guys, and they advertised that the buyer would receive $405 worth of car servicing for $89- a bargain! However, buyers have not been able to contact the company to book their pre-purchased car services through phone or email. The phone is continuously engaged, and emails have not been responded to. Bookings made on the company’s website have resulted in no-shows.

According to staff at LivingSocial.com, an email was sent out to most of those who purchased the deal offering a full refund or credit for future purchases.

Clearly the merchant was overwhelmed by the sheer number of vouchers sold, and did not have the staff or franchises to cope with the deal they had advertised.

So what had happened to The Go To Guys? Well no-one knows, not even the voucher company, and that is one of the inherent issues with heavily discounted deals being offered by one larger company on behalf of local merchants.

Companies are looking for ways to survive the global financial crisis, and will clearly do anything to gain business, and may ultimately lose money in the long-run. The message here… support local merchants and just pay the full price!


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The trouble with those voucher deals around Canberra.
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thatsnotme 10:35 pm 21 Feb 13

Howaboutthat said :

I guess he is struggling to get work (not surprising) and showed his frustration in my 15 minute session.

Was your session 15 minutes because you cut it short, or because that’s what you’d signed up to? If you’d cut it short, how long was the session supposed to be?

fromthecapital said :

These vouchers can be good for restuarants. I think they need to approach it as a marketing exercise to try and attract repeat business. Some however dont understand customer service. A little cafe in braddon comes to mind.

Aside from the issue of customer service, I think the problem with using these vouchers to try to drum up repeat business, is that the customers attracted to these discounts have already purchased their next voucher for a different restaurant offering a bargain. For the business owner, the whole concept is flawed – ‘lets attract a heap of bargain hunters by selling vouchers through a web site that will soon afterwards sell vouchers for another restaurant, but hope that we’re good enough to convince our bargain hunters to come back again’.

Businesses like restaurants have fixed costs as well – from the food you’re eating, to the rent on the room you’re sitting in, opening their doors costs money. Also remember that the restaurant isn’t getting anywhere near what you paid for the voucher. They may be lucky to get any more than half what you paid.

So the bottom line is if they break even on the visit, they can probably consider themselves lucky, and if anyone that bought a voucher ever comes back to pay full price for a meal they can consider themselves even luckier. I just don’t see how marketing to people who are actively trying to grab a bargain can end up being successful for any small business.

LSWCHP 9:38 pm 21 Feb 13

Howaboutthat said :

We’ve also been enjoying a number of these L S vouchers. We’ve been to a number of great restaurants and overnight accommodation. I thought I’d try something different – I paid $50 for a recent offer ‘One-on-one personal and professional development consultation’ offered by a guy called M. It was valued at $165. Oh geez! Did I regret taking this one up!

The guy didn’t smile, was distant and abrupt.

Well that all sounds pretty lame. I wonder if the “What’s a public servant?” wisecrack indicates that he has issues with public servants in general. Or perhaps, as a psychological mastermind he was a little ticked off by your non-cooperation with the date of birth.

Whatever the case may it all sounds a bit odd for a guy offering counselling services to carry on like that. I reckon the advice from other posters about sticking to goods rather than services with these discount gigs sounds like a good idea.

rosscoact 12:03 pm 21 Feb 13

devils_advocate said :

qbngeek said :

I should also add, that with things like car servicing, I firmly believe that you get what you pay for. IF you only pay $89 for a full service, only expect it to be worth $89.

I personally would not gamble $60k worth of car on a $300 saving.

I wouldn’t gamble $60k worth of car by getting someone other than myself to work on it.

I wouldn’t gamble $6k worth of car by getting myself to work on it (or indeed 10x that amount if I ever get a car worth $60k)

fromthecapital 11:54 am 21 Feb 13

These vouchers can be good for restuarants. I think they need to approach it as a marketing exercise to try and attract repeat business. Some however dont understand customer service. A little cafe in braddon comes to mind.

rosscoact 11:44 am 21 Feb 13

However, as a consultancy service and particularly ‘soft’ services, any opportunity to promote your business needs to be grasped with both hands.

Howaboutthat self-selected as someone who is interested in said consultancy and if “M” was marketing savvy he would have seen that as an opportunity to market through displaying professional competency. The voucher discount over what he normally charges is cheap for a pre-qualified customer.

Of course, he might be so busy that he doesn’t need any more customers (very unlikely) or he was just having a bad day – whatever the reason the outcome is unfortunate for his business. The one excuse that couldn’t be made is that he has had too many of these vouchers come in, after-all that’s the measure of success of any advertising.

devils_advocate 11:39 am 21 Feb 13

qbngeek said :

I should also add, that with things like car servicing, I firmly believe that you get what you pay for. IF you only pay $89 for a full service, only expect it to be worth $89.

I personally would not gamble $60k worth of car on a $300 saving.

I wouldn’t gamble $60k worth of car by getting someone other than myself to work on it.

chewy14 11:37 am 21 Feb 13

shirty_bear said :

I’ve used a bunch of these discount vouchers and have concluded that they are good for products (restaurants, jewellery, housewares) but an absolute no-go for services. I have bought two (carpet cleaning and pest spraying) and had to get both refunded because the provider would not provide. My suspicion is that it boils down to the people offering the services being mislead by the deal-broker people; when it comes time to do the work, they realise they’ll be flat out for months for next to no money … at which point they turn off the phone.

I would say that it’s less to do with the voucher people and more to do with the service providers completely failing to do their research on what they’re signing up for.

They think they’re getting a whole lot of marketing for a cheap price but then they don’t want to fulfill their part of the deal when it comes to actually providing the services.
Plus, I think some of them seem to be small and struggling businesses anyway and this can tip them over the edge.

shirty_bear 11:10 am 21 Feb 13

Howaboutthat said :

We’ve also been enjoying a number of these L S vouchers. We’ve been to a number of great restaurants and overnight accommodation. I thought I’d try something different – I paid $50 for a recent offer ‘One-on-one personal and professional development consultation’ offered by a guy called M. It was valued at $165. Oh geez! Did I regret taking this one up!

I would suggest this says more about the business of “personal and professional development consultation” than anything else. It’s a real WTF for me.

I’ve used a bunch of these discount vouchers and have concluded that they are good for products (restaurants, jewellery, housewares) but an absolute no-go for services. I have bought two (carpet cleaning and pest spraying) and had to get both refunded because the provider would not provide. My suspicion is that it boils down to the people offering the services being mislead by the deal-broker people; when it comes time to do the work, they realise they’ll be flat out for months for next to no money … at which point they turn off the phone.

rosscoact 11:10 am 21 Feb 13

How to turn a potential customer and proponent into bad publicity 101

Howaboutthat 9:49 am 21 Feb 13

We’ve also been enjoying a number of these L S vouchers. We’ve been to a number of great restaurants and overnight accommodation. I thought I’d try something different – I paid $50 for a recent offer ‘One-on-one personal and professional development consultation’ offered by a guy called M. It was valued at $165. Oh geez! Did I regret taking this one up!

The guy didn’t smile, was distant and abrupt. There was no effort at building any rapport. He seemed to be in a bad mood which became most clearly evident when he noticed that I didn’t put my full date of birth down on my details sheet. He tersely asked for it and I said I keep my dob private on the whole but I was happy to give him the year. Nil response. He then asked rudely ‘ What’s a public servant? What does that mean??’. It was quickly developing into a Monty Python sketch! He then asked questions which I had already provided answers to on the sheet. I said I was interested in starting a business and wanted to talk that through, maybe online. He said he can’t help me with that. I needed a business development coach. And didn’t I check his website on what he offers??’. I said I hadn’t – he said he provided the link in the fine print on the voucher (I’m still looking for it – not there). This guy clearly did not want to help me in any way.

I said that’s ok – I’m sure there is something we could discuss in the time we had remaining such as the hesitations I had around setting up a business. He was so disinterested that I ended up sayinhg that I didn’t think this was going anywhere. He offered me a refund which I accepted and left. However I found out from Living Social that he was in no position to offer me that. It has been a convoluted process trying to get a refund. After numerous phone calls (including two with the lovely M), I’m still not sure what’s the outcome is there.

I don’t know how this guy got a degree in counselling (though it says a Degree in Science on his letterhead..). He was unprofessional and astoundingly rude. I guess he is struggling to get work (not surprising) and showed his frustration in my 15 minute session. M really needs some professional development himself. Ironic….

stonedwookie 12:07 pm 12 Aug 11

good oil costs 60 bucks alone without labor,filter or anything anyone offering these cheapo tune ups is dodgey.
try lube mobile they are the best!

krats 11:17 am 11 Aug 11

chewy14 said :

Never had a problem myself.
And I would suggest that the lesson from your story would be for businesses not to offer deals that they can’t fulfill.

Common Sense-Dah!

Madman 9:35 am 11 Aug 11

You have to also remember that even though the company only gets half of the $89 and having to fulfil the orders processed, they’ve affectively paid for marketing in which they have received and gauranteed business from that marketing. Though the business needs to strategically think about how much they want to spend on this marketing. You could do TV and Radio ads for a couple of weeks and expect to pay $100k.

Strategically the business then needs to think, well if I’m going to do a voucher deal site – how much am I willing to pay in loss of services for upfront return and business that may lead into further business at full rates.

In this example the service company would have received $44.50 each totaling $133,350.00 for the 3000 purchases. Going off the $405.00 normal price they would have made a loss of $1,081,500.00

Therefore they should have thought if we want to spend $100k, then we can only allow 277 vouchers….

qbngeek 9:19 am 11 Aug 11

I should also add, that with things like car servicing, I firmly believe that you get what you pay for. IF you only pay $89 for a full service, only expect it to be worth $89.

I personally would not gamble $60k worth of car on a $300 saving.

qbngeek 9:17 am 11 Aug 11

We have used the wine offers a few times. The ones I have got through voucher sites, the wine has from Allbids/The Glass at Fyshwick and are normally pretty good for cheap wine. Several of them have been better than stuff I have paid a lot more for.

gentoopenguin 10:23 pm 10 Aug 11

I usually buy restaurant vouchers and check the reviews online beforehand. A little homework saves a night of poor dining… I guess it’s similar with other offers.

chewy14 8:54 pm 10 Aug 11

Never had a problem myself.
And I would suggest that the lesson from your story would be for businesses not to offer deals that they can’t fulfill.

Henry82 8:42 pm 10 Aug 11

There are HEAPS of complaints on ozbargain about these voucher websites. A lot of the places use the deals as a last resort to pull their company out of financial trouble. Generally there are reasons why they’re going out of business, usually dodgy practices, poor customer service etc. I’d only buy vouchers from places you know are good (or have heard good things about). Also, if its too good to be true, it probably is. The voucher sites do take a % cut of the purchase price, so take that into account when working out what ‘value’ your getting.

beh1972 8:30 pm 10 Aug 11

We’ve bought a number of them now and used them. Overall have been pleased and been to places we wouldn’t have normally gone to.

Only real negative was an Indian resturant in Gungahlin (the one near Aldi). A three course meal for 2 with breads ‘worth $92’) for $39. The manager made it soon clear we were only getting the cheapest items off the menu, full stop – which would have added up to about $58 normally. She wasn’t letting us near $92 worth!

But been really happy with everyone else.

Padoof 8:23 pm 10 Aug 11

It seems what happened with you and ‘The Go to Guys’ is a relatively rare occurrence and LivingSocial have done the right thing by offering a refund. Whilst a bit disappointing, you have not lost any $$$$.

I have purchased 4 things now and redeemed 3 (one booked in for a few weeks’ time) without an issue at all.

I am tempted by offers almost daily, refrain myself from purchasing nearly all (best way to save money…don’t spend it!) and am absolutely stoked with the bargains I’ve snaffled up so far.

Your story has reassured me that LivingSocial is a legit company who is looking after their customers.

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