Group-buying sites offer you great discounts

January 31, 2011 3:09:27 PM PST
Group-buying sites like and are growing in popularity, and now Google is reported to be testing its own group-buying site called "Google Offers."

Want to go sky-diving for 75 percent off. How about $25 for a bouquet of 25 roses? These are coupons that you can buy online.

Group buying websites have changed Erin Libranda's life.

"This is awesome; I mean, every day I check the different sites for different deals," she said.

Today she's contemplating several deals. At, it's $18 for two oil changes that normally cost $30. At, it's 16 one-hour boot camp sessions for just $40. The price is regularly $250. At, it's $15 for $30 worth of sushi from Sushi Raku.

"So many more companies are getting on the bandwagon of this group buying power," Libranda said. "It's great for the consumers, it's great for the companies that offer the coupon."

The group buying websites work like this. They post a deal of the day and you click to buy. In most cases a quota has to be met for the deal to be "on." You usually have about 24 hours to purchase a deal and about six months to use your coupon before it expires. Many websites now offer "side deals" in addition to the main deal of the day.

"It's kind of like the big warehouse things; they can offer a bigger discount if a large number of people buy into something," Libranda said.

With most of these group buying sites, you have to pay online to get the deal, but at Houston-based, you don't have to prepay on some of their deals; you just show up with your printed coupon.

"You can participate without risk so you look at it and think that is something I would want to do. Normally you have to be completely committed," said James Pruett with

Group buying websites are also getting more sophisticated with their target audience. At, the company just launched its family edition deals program for those looking for kid-friendly bargains. If you don't want to scour every single group buying website each day, the website called has a list of deals, making it easy to one stop shop.

While Libranda is a big fan of group buying, she cautions to read the fine print!

"They do expire, they do have fine print. Some of them no alcohol is included. Obviously, no tipping is included," she said.

You might be asking what's in it for businesses. The hope is that they get repeat customers and save on advertising dollars. That's usually the case but some businesses say they have advertised a deal that was so good, they were inundated with customers and actually lost a lot more than they bargained for.