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.
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.
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
Service Alberta, Consumer Contact Centre
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4L4
Consumer Protection BC
Victoria, British Columbia V8W 9J2
Consumer Protection Office, Manitoba Justice
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 0B6
Financial and Consumer Services Commission
Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 1E1
Newfoundland and Labrador
St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador A1B 4J6
Consumer Affairs, Department of Municipal and Community Affairs
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories X1A 2L9
Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, Public Enquiries
1505 Barrington Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 3K5
Consumer Affairs, Department of Community and Government Services
Baker Lake, Nunavut X0C 0A0
Consumer Protection Ontario, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services
Toronto, Ontario M3M 1J8
Prince Edward Island
Consumer Services, Department of Justice and Public Safety
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island C1A 7N8
Office de la protection du consommateur
Québec, Quebec G1K 8W4