Group Buying is where a retailer signs up with a website to have its products or services featured. It allows consumers to get good deals with retailers, while retailers get advertising by offering the deals in the hope of attracting new customers.

Most group deals need a minimum number of people to buy in for the sale to be activated. So you can buy the deal but until enough people do the same thing—say 100 purchases—the company will not complete the sale.

Once this set number of purchases has been reached, the financial transaction is completed and the consumer can print out vouchers or coupons, or download them onto mobile phone apps, to claim the discount. These deals are often offered on a daily or weekly basis, with consumers signing up for regular email newsletters to be alerted to the latest deal.

Things to Consider in Group Buying

There are a few things to keep in mind when thinking about group buying or “deals of the day”:

  • “Deals of the day” are often locally based or may apply to specific stores online. Make sure you know exactly which site or location you can use to redeem your chosen deal.
  • Retailers offering group buying deals may try to cancel or change them without notice. Find out what is required to get a refund if this happens.
  • Some group buying websites now include charitable donations as part of their deals. Make sure you are aware of how your money is donated.
  • Be sure to ask about any expiration date attached to a deal.
  • You may have to pay extra fees when you claim your deal. In some cases, cash may be the only method of payment accepted. Be sure to read the fine print in the offer.
  • Taxes may or may not be included in the price of the deal. If not, you will have to pay taxes on the product or service when you claim the deal.

TIP:

Always save or print a copy of the original offer, in case something goes wrong later.

If the Deal Doesn’t Work

If you don’t get what you paid for, you may have to take steps in order to get your money back. One option is to speak to the retailer to explain the situation and ask if they will give you your money back. Another option is to go directly to the group buying website. Many of these sites have policies to reimburse you if the deal has not been used within a certain amount of time—often 14 days—or if the retailer has made it impossible to redeem the deal. Remember, it’s usually easier to resolve these kinds of issues if you save and/or print out a copy of the original offer.

In some cases, complaints can be made through your provincial or territorial Consumer Protection Agencies. However, it is important to note that the fine print of any contract, including those signed with a group buying websites, should be read and understood BEFORE purchasing products or services.

Additional Resources

For more information on group buying, visit the website of the Canadian Deals and Coupons Association.

For details on how to make a consumer complaint you may want to consult our Complaint Roadmap.

Provincial and Territorial Consumer Affairs Offices

Alberta

Service Alberta, Consumer Contact Centre
3rd Floor Commerce Place
10155-102 Street

Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 4L4

Telephone: 780-427-4088
Toll Free: 1-877-427-4088

Email
Websitewww.servicealberta.ca

British Columbia

Consumer Protection BC
#307-3450 Uptown Blvd
PO Box 9244

Victoria, British Columbia  V8W 9J2

Telephone: 604-320-1667
Toll Free: 1-888-564-9963
Fax: 250-920-7181

Email
Websitewww.consumerprotectionbc.ca

Manitoba

Consumer Protection Office, Manitoba Justice
302-258 Portage Avenue

Winnipeg, Manitoba  R3C 0B6

Telephone: 204-945-3800
Toll Free: 1-800-782-0067
Fax: 204-945-0728

Email
Websitewww.manitoba.ca/consumerinfo

New Brunswick

Financial and Consumer Services Commission
225 King Street, Suite 200

Fredericton, New Brunswick  E3B 1E1

Toll Free: 1-866-933-2222
Fax: 506-444-4494

Email
Websitewww.fcnb.ca

Newfoundland and Labrador

Service NL
PO Box 8700

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador  A1B 4J6

Telephone: 709-729-2600
Toll Free: 1-877-968-2600
Fax: 709-729-6998

Email
Websitewww.servicenl.gov.nl.ca/index.html

Northwest Territories

Consumer Affairs, Department of Municipal and Community Affairs
5201-50th Avenue, Suite 600
PO Box 1320

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories  X1A 2L9

Telephone: 867-767-9161 ext 21022
Fax: 867-873-0309

Email
Websitewww.maca.gov.nt.ca/en/services/consumer-affairs

Nova Scotia

Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, Public Enquiries
Mail Room, 8 South
Maritime Centre
1505 Barrington Street

Halifax, Nova Scotia  B3J 3K5

Telephone: 902-424-5200
Toll Free: 1-800-670-4357
Fax: 902-424-0720

Email
Websitenovascotia.ca/sns/access/individuals/consumer-awareness.asp

Nunavut

Consumer Affairs, Department of Community and Government Services
3090 – 9th Street
P.O. Box 440

Baker Lake, Nunavut  X0C 0A0

Telephone: 867-793-3303
Toll Free: 1-866-223-8139
Fax: 867-793-3321

Email
Websitewww.gov.nu.ca/

Ontario

Consumer Protection Ontario, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services
Box 450
1201 Wilson Ave, Station A

Toronto, Ontario  M3M 1J8

Telephone: 416-326-8800
Toll Free: 1-800-889-9768
Phone (TTY): 416-229-6086
Phone (TTY) 2: 1-877-666-6545
Fax: 416-326-8665

Email
Websitewww.ontario.ca/consumerprotection

Prince Edward Island

Consumer Services, Department of Justice and Public Safety
Shaw Building, 4th Floor
95 Rochford Street
PO Box 2000

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island  C1A 7N8

Telephone: 902-368-4580
Telephone: 902-368-4550
Toll Free: 1-800-658-1799
Fax: 902-368-5283

Websitehttps://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/topic/consumer-services

Quebec

Office de la protection du consommateur
400 Jean-Lesage Boulevard, Suite 450

Québec, Quebec  G1K 8W4

Telephone: 418-643-1484
Toll Free: 1-888-672-2556
Fax: 418-528-0976

Websitewww.opc.gouv.qc.ca

Yukon

Consumer Services, Department of Community Services
307 Black Street

Whitehorse, Yukon  Y1A 2N1

Telephone: 867-667-5111
Toll Free: 1-800-661-0408 ext. 5111
Fax: 867-667-3609

Email
Websitewww.community.gov.yk.ca/consumer/index.html

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