Group buying websites – what are they and can they save you money?

1 min Read Published: 09 Mar 2011

Money-off vouchers and 2 for 1 deals are offered almost everywhere these days but now there is a relatively new kid on the block in the form of group buying websites. So what are they and can they save you money?

How they work

  • Group buying websites list a discounted deal, typically a spa treatment or meal for two, and users are asked to sign up for the offer.
  • There is a minimum number of sign ups required before the offer goes live, if this minimum is not achieved then the offer will expire and be withdrawn.
  • If the minimum is reached then payment is taken immediately and a coupon issued to the purchaser. The key point is that users pay for the voucher.
  • Typically new deals are listed daily and are also advised to members via email, on many sites you can enter your location to get deals specific to your area.

Can they save me money?

Well the answer is yes and maybe.

  • Don't get carried away thinking that you're going to get a top of the range 3D TV at half price, it's more likely to be a half price meal for two at your local Tandoori.
  • Just because it looks a bargain doesn't mean it is, you may be able to get a similar, or better, deal through other websites such as Toptable.
  • There is also a temptation to sign up for things just because they're cheap, balloon flights are great but getting up at 4am and driving 20 miles before you start, may take the shine off things.
  • There will also be a time limit to the voucher so make sure you check the small print on the website before purchase.
  • Most sites offer a money-back guarantee and will refund the purchase price if you are not happy.


The market leading site is Groupon which started operating two years ago and they have recently turned down a £4bn offer from Google to buy the business. This gives you some idea of the popularity and potential for this market which is clearly here to stay. Other big players are - Groupola, kgbdeals and Crowdity.

As for whether I like them? I'm not really a massive fan of voucher codes in general. Don't get me wrong they are brilliant for saving money and people rightly use them – what's not to like in that?. It is the 'sale hysteria' which they tap into which I don't like. It seems to me that they are slowly moving more towards being marketing ploys, rather than genuine money savers, to get you to part with money you don't have (credit cards) for things you don't really want. Yes, if you can make a huge saving on something you were going to buy anyway then brilliant.

Image: renjith krishnan /