The exponential growth of Groupon clones has created a unique dilemma: How do you resell group buying vouchers you don't really need?
The number of online group buying companies has moved into double digits, dominated by these nine group buying sites. The model is simple: The sites find local businesses willing to provide large discounts in return for spreading their names to new customers. Consumers log on each day or receive an email with an offer geared to their interests, be it a cut-rate dinner, magazine subscription, spa treatment or other product or service. Members either accept or ignore the offer. Most offers are good for a limited number of recipients during a set period of time -- usually one day.
Let's say, however, you've grabbed a deal before thinking it through. How do you dispose of those Groupon vouchers when they don't really suit your lifestyle?
You could try getting a refund but, if it's a really good deal, there's no reason you shouldn't consider making a profit. After all, only so many people were able to take advantage of the offer.
Once people began realizing the potential for turning a profit, a new industry was born for reselling group buying vouchers. These sites build on a model similar to GiftCardGranny.com, where you can buy gift cards at discount prices from private sellers. It's a win/win proposition, whether you're a buyer or seller.
Read on for a selection of the most reputable free sites that bring together people who have deals they want to sell with those who missed out.
Lifesta is a marketplace for people to buy and sell deals from Groupon, Living Social, BuyWithMe and 60 to 70 other group-buying sites -- and counting. Unlike several other sites, your purchase is immediate: Pick the deal, pay using Amazon Payments and download the voucher instantly. No need to provide your email address to the world. Every voucher is guaranteed to be authentic and usable by The Lifesta Deal Guarantee. (In short: Lifesta will refund you money if you buy a deal on their site and find within 60 days it was invalid or has already been used.)
This free service allows you to search by city through its extensive database of private offers from 24 group-buying sites. (52 cities are presently listed.) Users post ads to re-sell, trade or request a daily deal. Lifesta links parties via blind emails and you take it from there.
Post your deal and name your price, or browse rare and super-cheap deals in seven cities via this free site. CoupRecoup allows resales of vouchers "bought on any site, but streamlines the process for deals from Groupon, Fresh Guide, Living Social, Social Buy and Tippr." You must list your deal with the same email used to purchase the original coupon. Listings expire when the deals expire.
Dealigee has a slightly different take, integrating Facebook into their website via their own Facebook application. Users simply login using their Facebook account. To create a deal listing and an extra layer of protection for buyers, you must validate your PayPal account, thus verifying your identity. The site allows you to list your coupons with a “buy now” price or you might allow buyers to submit bids through a “make an offer” option. Listings expire after 30 days but sellers can relist if the voucher doesn’t sell. Payment is completed through PayPal and the voucher is delivered directly to the seller.
What can't you sell on Craigslist these days, other than a human being? Unfortunately, there's little protection here for coupon buyers and you'll have to sift through a lot of spam on your way to finding a good deal.
Finally, if you do end up with a great entertainment voucher, you might reconsider using it on a first date. Check out our post "Tacky or Thrifty? Couponing and First Date Etiquette."