My Groupon Nightmare

When you end up needing to be saved from your dinner savings

My sister and I went to the theater last week to see Miss Saigon at the Walnut. The show was great. (I cried at the end but, then again, I cry at dog food commercials and Save the Children appeals.) Before we saw the show, we had dinner. Nearby restaurants are all prepared for the theater crowd; get ’em in and get ’em out in time for the show. Normally we pick a place fairly close to the Walnut because it maximizes the amount of time you have for dinner and, well, I’m lazy and don’t want to walk any farther than necessary to get a good meal and a glass of chardonnay.

On this occasion, we selected a restaurant a few blocks farther away than normal because I had a coupon. Now, before you get the wrong idea on this thing, I am not a little old lady rummaging around in a large envelope overflowing with coupons. I do, however, check out websites like and if I’m looking to buy something pricey or heading out for a meal. For this occasion, I had a coupon from I get Groupon alerts, and when I saw one for a restaurant close to the theater I grabbed one. Then I tried to use it.

Sis and I arrived, were seated and ordered. The owner approached us and started up a friendly chat. “Where are you from?” he asked. We told him we were in from the ‘burbs, having dinner before the show. “Have you dined with us before?” he wondered. I explained that his restaurant was featured on Groupon so I downloaded a certificate and was there to give a new place a try.

You would have thought I spit on his shoes. The owner rudely berated me for using a marketing program (which he decided to participate in) and went on to disparage pretty much the entire Main Line. Now let me work this out: It was his decision to use a marketing tool, one which proved to be successful by my presence at his restaurant, and he was pissed at me? What happened? Did too many people come in with coupons that week? Business slow? His wife left him yesterday?

The meal was terrible. Everything was undercooked and, because we were going to the theater, I felt there wasn’t enough time to send my meal back for more fire. Besides, I was pretty sure that, if I did, some bodily fluids might end up in it, so I ate the parts that looked like they didn’t contain E. coli, paid using my coupon (with a 20 percent tip because it’s not the waitress’s fault her boss is a jerk), and headed down the street for the show. But I was bothered by the experience all night. I resolved to get up the next day and find a yoga class. You know, de-stress, work out the anxiety.

Now, let’s see, who’s got a coupon …