Extreme Grouponing: A Deal Addict’s Confession

How far will you go for a good deal?

I am addicted to Groupons. I wasn’t sure if I could even write this post because I am embarrassed by this addiction, probably more than I would be if I was addicted to something normal, like painkillers or booze. Funny thing is I rarely use coupons, but I love the Groupons. To be clear, when I say Groupons, I actually mean all of the services that fill the discount craving: LivingSocial, Eversave, PhillyDealyO, DealLeak, DoubleTakeDeals. (I think I like the word “Groupon” because it’s a made-up word that we immediately understand.) I get an email from every one of these organizations every day. I know some people don’t want the daily email, and as my friend Nicole says, “How many massages can one person get?” But for me, I can’t see how a click to delete can be so annoying or exhausting that it’s worth giving up the chance to save cash on restaurants, hair cuts and other kinds of fun.

The sales pitch works on me just as it’s supposed to—even though I pay $15 for a $30 certificate, somehow by the time we get to the restaurant, I feel like I’m getting $30 for nothing. I get a little thrill, feel a little like I’m getting over. I admit that we often still put out $40 in cash or more at a nice dinner, but we look at what the bill could’ve been and are relieved. A few times we’ve made going out and staying under the Groupon amount a challenge, a competition against ourselves and the venue. When the bill comes and it’s $3.26 or so, we feel like we won something. We’ve even bar-hopped between a few places in one night in order to stay under the amount on two separate certificates. Servers who wait on us really make out; since we feel like we’re eating out for free, we are super-generous with the tip.

There are problems, sure. We rarely get to return to restaurants we very much enjoy because we have to use Groupons at other places before they expire. I’ve gone to dinner sick, on Tuesdays, and with people I don’t like, but I will not let a certificate pass its prime.

Some people are afraid to buy them, thinking, what if I forget and let it expire? What if the company goes out of business? Grouponing 101: If the certificate expires, the company has to honor it for at least the amount you spent. If you spent $15 for a $30 certificate, the company has to credit your bill $15. If a company goes out of business, the service you bought it from, Groupon, LivingSocial, etc., will reimburse you the amount you paid, even if it is in credit from that service. I would tell you about the time I bought myself a housekeeping coupon as a Christmas present, and they went belly up before they came to clean … but retelling it makes me too sad.

My hairdresser, who is a friend, called to check on me, worried for my health and well-being. After all, I have gone only to him for a decade, and for at least two decades, I’ve only mildly modified my hairstyle from Farrah to Jennifer to Jennifer-lite. I was glad he called me out on it; I had felt like I was cheating on him. Not only was I whoring around, I was whoring around to save money, so in a way, I was whoring around to make money, which is truly being a whore. Every time I’d get my hair cut somewhere else, shakily holding out my certificate to a stranger, I’d feel dirty. I felt worse if I liked it. When my hairdresser confronted me, and I told him the truth, he was understanding and empathetic. I felt like all of the characters in Closer.

But I have been the salve in many other people’s relationships. I don’t know whether to credit my own boyfriend’s acceptance of my obsession to his spirit, or the off-road driving adventure I Grouponed him for his birthday. But frequently, one partner ridicules the other for excessive grouponing, and the attacked are defensive. They make valid arguments about the exploration they have done, the new experiences they’ve had. If the attacker hears all of this and continues to mock, I sacrifice myself and bring out the big guns, the large stack of printed-out deals I keep in my room, piled in chronological order. See, I say? No one is as Grouponed as me.