Remember those Entertainment Books from back in the day that offered a textbook size worth of sweet deals? I was forced to peddle them to my unsuspecting neighbors for various school and sports team fundraisers, where treasures like “Buy 10 dinners at Olive Garden and get the next one free”, awaited them within the pages. They were a joke, and like most deals out there today, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. While most of us don’t clip coupons out of the Sunday sectional, there’s been a boom in coupon clubs and websites. Especially when it comes to local deals in New York City. Whether you’re eating out with a group or snagging a daily deal from your iPhone, each site has something different to offer. Riding on the success of Groupon, there’s a whole new batch of contenders clamoring to save you some cash. So I offer you a brief primary on big bad world of daily deals.
This Southern based company recently launched their NYC site and has already spread like wildfire. Unlike Groupon and a lot of other coupon sites, Scout Mob doesn’t require payment of any kind. There’s no packaged deals sold to you at discount prices, but rather straight up discounts to local restaurants and businesses. Their real bread and butter is their iPhone application. Once you’ve downloaded the app, you have access to 50 or 60 deals at places all around the city. You don’t have to sign up or plug in your email, just browse through the deals, show up to the location, and simply show them your iPhone with the deal on the screen. For those of us stuck with a Samsung Glyde (ahem me), you can still get access to all the deals via email. To “claim” a deal, click on the one you want, then it will ask you if you want to have the deal emailed or texted to you on your phone. Each deal is only available on the site for 24 hours. You have to claim it before that time is up, but once you have it sent to yourself, it’s good to use for up to 3 months. And there’s no pressure to use the deal once you have it. The decision is all yours. Scout Mob definitely has the upper hand when it comes to putting the customer first.
While a lot of discount sites place their emphasis on getting deals on services like spas and gym classes, InBundles is a strictly food and drink game. It’s one of the newer additions to the coupon scene, but effective nonetheless. Here’s how it works: you can either visit the site or sign up for their email alerts to see the deal of the day. You buy the “bundle” up front. So for $12, you get to order $25 worth of food. Their are limited quantities of bundles, on the flip side, if not enough people purchase the deal that day, nobody gets the deal or is charged on their credit card. Once you purchase the deal, they email you a certificate to print out and present at the restaurant. They provide detailed information about the restaurant, and there’s only a few rules about when you can use it. These deals also give you a few months to use it, and are also available to buy on their site for up to 72 hours. Recent deals included Caracas Arepa Bar in Williamsburg and the Italian Pizzeria Celeste on the Upper West Side, so their participating restaurants are all over the map.
Similar to Scout Mob’s model, Blackboard Eats works without any actual payment involved. What’s now become a hit success in LA has hit the NYC food scene. Here’s the skinny: you sign up for their email newsletter which goes out Tuesdays and Thursdays. They offer percentage discounts off the total of your bill, free appetizers and other perks on anything from wine bars to Intelligentsia Coffee. If you like the deal, you click on it to retrieve a passcode. There’s no printing out, you simply tell your passcode to the host at the restaurant when you arrive. There’s no big catches, you don’t have to have your whole party show up to use it, passcodes are available for 24 hours, and are usually good for one month. Right now they’re offering deals in NYC, SF, and LA. But they also offer discounts on nationwide chains, so if you’re not in one of these cities, you can stick get in on the deals.
Just as Kayak works as an aggregator for all the price-comparison travel sites, Yip It does the same thing for coupon sites. Working with sites like theDealist, LifeBooker, KGB Deals, Village Vines , and many more, they do the digging for you. Deals range on anything from spa treatments, concerts, restaurants and even getaways like whitewater rafting. They work with over 60 coupon sites all over the country, so all you have to do is sign-up for your city and let the deals roll in. Want to get access to the deals in real time? They also offer city specific Twitter accounts for those of you with ADD, empty wallets and a hearty appetite. If you don’t want to deal with signing up for these individual sites, I recommend signing up for Yip It as a way to get your feet wet in the wide world of online coupons.
With the economy is slowly dusting off its shoulders and trying to get back into shape, I see the proliferation of coupon sites as a sign of an upward momentum and encourages people to go out again. After all, there’s only so many packets of tuna one can consume without either going insane or dying of mercury poisoning.