I’ve been reading a lot lately about Groupon and other Social Deal Sites lately. While on the surface these sites seem like a great deal for both the company and the customer, like everything, there are always downsides to using these tools.
I personally have used Groupon. I’ve purchased half off deals, gone into to use them, and had no problems. I also have clients who have been on Groupon and sites like it, received numerous new clients from it, and are working their way through their new clients. Again, they’ve been happy with the services, and are in line to participate again.
Yet in Fast Company, they ask the question “Is Groupon Too Good To Be True?” While these sites are doing some due diligence, and reviewing the companies before they use them as an offer on their site, there is only so much checking you can do. As they discovered with a photographer from Georgia. The photographer offered a $500 package for $65, and quickly began amassing revenue, ending up near $75,000 in sales. The problem: she wasn’t using her own work for the ad, and people began noticing the hijacked work and posting fraud on Groupon’s message board. The deal was called off, money refunded, and I’m sure the legal battles are still in the works.
The immediate problem isn’t with Groupon, it’s with the photographer. How could you ever expect to use someone else’s photographs in such a public way and not get caught? If you are a photographer, you are advertising for business, use your own work. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.
Groupon (and other social deal sites – I mentioned a list here) are simply in the business to provide deals to customers they think the consumer will buy. While they have a checklist of things a company has to qualify for in order to be a part of the deal process, it’s still easy to miss details that can later seem huge. But overall, they are still a very effective way to gain new clients. I know I’ll keep using them. And so will millions of other people.