Dear PoP – What happens when you don’t use your online coupon?

Photo from PoPville flickr user fromcaliw/love

“Dear PoP,

I’ve been really into getting the coupons from websites like livingsocial for dc. They have had some good deals for area spots. However, I just had my first one come close to expiring. I am trying to find out what happens when it expires. I know with some coupons, like Groupon, the coupon retains the value of any money spent, but Living Social, unlike groupon does not say what happens. I have researched there website high and low but it just says that what happens depends on local law. I emailed living social and asked about dc specifically, and there answer was a recommendation that I call the chamber of commerce to find out. I honestly can’t believe a business like this doesn’t know what happens and seems to refuse to answer. I doub’t very much that I will get an answer from the dc government. Hoping you or your readers can help? Do you know what the law is in dc? Do they have to retain the value of any money put down?”

Has anyone had one of these coupons expire? Do you just lose the dough? Is it very obvious when the expiration date is? I guess this is why it might not make sense to buy $400 worth gazpacho for one week…

17 Comment

  • Living Social is a complete CF. They’re disorganized, and can’t seem to get anything right. They seem to be unable to disclose how things work, i.e. good deals can run out in a matter of minutes.

    I believe if your coupon expires, your money is lost.

  • No COUPon for you!

  • 3. expiration dates
    The expiration date for a Voucher is as printed on the Voucher.

    If the expiration of the full value of the Voucher as of the date printed on the Voucher is prohibited under the law of the jurisdiction in which you reside, then the Voucher shall expire as follows: the promotional portion of the Voucher will expire on the date printed on the Voucher, and the paid portion of the Voucher will expire five (5) years from the date the Voucher is issued, except to the extent applicable law requires that the Merchant extend the period in which the Voucher may be redeemed. The Merchant is obligated to honor the Voucher in compliance with law. If the Merchant refuses to honor the Voucher before the legally permitted expiration date, then LivingSocial will refund the paid portion of your Voucher in the form of a credit for future Deals (what we currently call “deal bucks”). In order to receive the credit, you must provide the following information in writing to [email protected]: (a) identification of the Voucher and Merchant with whom you sought to redeem the Voucher, (b) statement of the date, time, and circumstances in which the Merchant refused to redeem the Voucher, and (c) a statement, under penalty of perjury, that the Voucher has never been redeemed with the Merchant.

  • Yes, if the coupon expires, you’re out of luck. You’re not paying the restaurant/spa/whatever the coupon is for, you’re paying Living Social (they, in turn, pay the establishment). They’ve already charged you and don’t keep track of whether you use the coupon. Frankly, a lot of their profit comes from people who don’t use the coupons before they expire. It might be different if you were just “reserving” a coupon, but you’re not — the purchase has been made, and there are no refunds.

  • The expiration date is very clear and usually about 6 months from the time of purchase. Of course this varies with the try of deal — like something summer will expire in the summer. But, ~6 months is a decent amount of time…

  • The fine print on Living social pretty obviously says “No cash back, no cash value”. If you don’t use your coupon, you lose the money. They need a few people like you to make sure the whole thing pays off, I assume.

    If I have a $30 worth of food for $15 coupon, I assume the restaurant kicked in some portion of the $15 in “free” food as a way to get people in the door. And, Living Social kicked in some portion. Living social’s profit must come form the forgetters.

    • naturally. I bought coupons once and the harsh restrictions (weeknight dinner) meant I couldn’t use the coupon. In the end I stuck them on the bulletin board at work and walked away.

  • Here’s what it comes down to — once it expires, it is entirely up to the discretion of the business on if they want to honor it or not, just like they do for any sort of gift certificate that expires. They may still do so, they may not; it depends entirely on who you’re talking to at many places.

    At the end of the day, though, the easier thing is to just use them. I’ve had Living Social e-mail me when an unused coupon was getting close to expire, but it might be worth marking it on your calendar if you’re afraid you’re going to forget.

    • i’m just going to keep quoting the same paragraph from their website until people realize this is a non-issue:

      ” If the Merchant refuses to honor the Voucher before the legally permitted expiration date, then LivingSocial will refund the paid portion of your Voucher in the form of a credit for future Deals”

  • For future reference — The Chamber of Commerce is NOT a government agency.

  • I have no direct knowledge in this situation.

    However, governments don’t want companies to keep unclaimed assets and I believe this would fall into that category. You might want to try contacting your AG or consumer affairs agency to see if you are entitled to a refund. recently changed policies because of these issues.

  • Hello,

    As far as groupon you loose your money given to groupon when the coupon expires. Often times you can call the place and if they are feeling nice they will extend it a month or so beyond the deadline. Groupn will not tell you this since it is up to the place holding the service to make up their mind if they want to extend the offer. I’m speaking only for the place i work at who has both a groupon and a living social deal going on. For us we are offering to put any of the money spent with groupon towards another full service item. SO my point is try the establishment before the service expires and they may work with you on having you redeem your purchase from one of these discount places online.

    • actually that is incorrect.
      From Groupon FAQ
      What happens if my Groupon expires?
      All is not lost! Once a Groupon reaches its expiration date, it loses its promotional value, but you can still redeem it at the price you paid for the length of time stated by gift certificate laws in your state.

      Under dc law that is 5 years

  • Just a little primer on how living social (and groupon) works.

    Living social gets with a business, they agree on a deal and the associated price, lets just say for arguments sake the deal is 10 bucks for 20 dollars worth of food at a bar.

    You buy the ticket, and your 10 bucks goes to Living Social. Their ridiculous fee is 30% of all collected revenue.

    So if they sell 500 of these 10 dollar coupons ($5,000 total) to this bar, they keep $1,500 dollars, which is a pretty ridiculous commission considering your expenses are a handful of 20 somthings in a room managing a website and manning a phone.

    It becomes more ridiculous when you look at some of their recent coupons, like a $60 dollar cleaning coupon that they sold 1500 of. A $54,000 dollar commission for a couple days work?

    They originally charged 35% but had to lower it when Groupon moved into town and had a lower commission structure.

    A great business model that is only succesfull for a couple years. Then the dozens of competitors will have driven your commission and volume so low, it won’t be worth it.

    • yes, it’s a great business model, but don’t forget the salesmen have to hustle to find good businesses. This is a sales-driven business and it seems you think the stores will want to sign up, those stores will need to be cajoled into signing up.

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