Is It Tacky to Use a Groupon Twice?

Is It Tacky to Use a Groupon Twice - picture of stylist doing woman's hair

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A few months ago, I was in desperate need of some sort of a hairstyle or change.  And It was time, folks.  My hair is naturally blonde, but I do need a little help here and there.

And- let’s be real- looking this good takes work.  (I kid, I kid)

Fortunately, I found a super sweet Groupon that would help me save more than 50% on my new hairstyle.  For $55 (plus tip), I could get the cut, color, and style I wanted and at a salon just ten minutes away.

So I totally pounced on that deal and made an appointment immediately.  And since I’m not too picky about how my hair is done, I absolutely loved the results.  (Anything was better than the way it looked before anyway).  I told the lady who did my hair that I would definitely be back, and I really hoped that I was telling the truth.  The problem?  That place is not cheap.

Groupon Part Deux

It’s been a few months since I had my hair did, and frankly, it’s starting to look awful again.  The roots that were once hidden by my fancy new highlights are sprouting in all their glory and the color is looking pretty mousy and blah.

So that’s why I was so excited to see that the place that did my hair a few months ago was still participating in the whole Groupon thing.  Even better, I didn’t see anything in the fine print that said I couldn’t purchase and use one a second time.  In fact, the rules simply said “One Per Visit,” unlike the many other Groupons I’ve seen that say “One Per Customer” instead.

Since I want to get my hair done by Thanksgiving, I went ahead and called the salon to see if they had availability before buying the Groupon again.  Unfortunately, I experienced one of the most…awkward…conversations…ever.  Here’s how it went down:

Me: “Hi!  I’m Holly Johnson and I want to make an appointment with Sarah for this week or this weekend.”

Sarah: “Hey Holly!  It’s me, Sarah!  I have availability on Saturday.  What time?”

Me: “Any time is fine.  Why don’t you pick?  Oh, and I am going to buy your Groupon again.  That ok?”

<insert awkward silence here>

Sarah: “Well…errrrr….yeah.  I mean, we don’t make any money on those.  But fine.”

Holly: “Are you sure?”

Sarah: “Yeah, I’m sure.”

I hung up the phone and immediately felt like the world’s biggest jerk.  After all, this lady is simply trying to make a living and she can’t make a living if she’s constantly fixing wigs for free.  But, I was also confused.  They don’t make any money on them?  The Groupon still costs $55, people!  I could only assume that she meant the salon didn’t make any money after expenses or after paying her salary or something.  I also wondered if I should care.  Hmmmmm……  Should I care?

Is It Wrong to Use a Groupon Twice?

To be honest, I’m pretty torn on this one.  First of all, I don’t think the salon should be giving people a hard time for using Groupons since they are obviously participating in the promotion of their own free will.  I also believe that, if they want to limit the Groupon to one per person, they should say so explicitly in the fine print.  And to be honest, I’ve seen plenty of Groupons that make it clear that each customer can only buy and use them once.  No big deal, right?

On the other hand, the friendly hairdresser made me feel really, really bad about my desire to save money.  At this point, I’m wondering if she gets a reduced pay rate when one of her customers shows up with a  Groupon in hand.  At the same time, that doesn’t seem fair.  Would her employer do that? 

Either way, I have been shamed out of my Groupon strategy at this point, and plan to pay full price.  After all, I don’t want to cancel on her either since my appointment is this Saturday.  I also don’t want to save money at someone else’s expense, and am willing to fork over an extra $50 to avoid that situation, even if that isn’t the case.

Also, the stylist in question is not an independent contractor at her salon.  She’s an employee.  I know this because she told me about her history as a hairdresser during my last appointment and complained that she hated being an independent contractor at her old job.

What would you do in this situation?  Have you ever used a Groupon twice?

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  1. No, I haven’t – I totally empathise. I get HEINOUS coupon guilt. It’s pretty much as intense as my desire to save money! Argh!

    1. Coupon guilt, lol. That is exactly what I’m feeling.

    2. So actually, groupon takes half of what you pay. So I think that’s the rub right there, if you would have offered her the 50 she would’ve at least made 50 and maybe would have negotiated. But yeah the salon should have stated that. Most that I’ve seen do.

      1. Exactly! I’m an assistant at a salon, and a $50 cut and color groupon sale means the salon will only get $25 from groupon. If the stylist has to give the salon a percentage (in our shop the house keeps 50% and supplies all the products) then that’s even less.
        The stylist walks away with $12.50 for all their hard work and time spent, and the shop BARELY covers the cost of a tube of ($10) hair color.

    3. Katherine Suzanne Anderson says:

      It is true. You don’t make money on Groupons. The business, especially small independent people that work for themselves, are using the groupon to get new customers in their chair with the hopes they will love their services after trying them and keep coming back. They are to get NEW clients. Unfortunately, as described above, it tends to just attract people who really cannot afford these services and are just looking for a deal. They don’t value the person’s work enough to pay for it.

  2. I think Groupons are generally intended to be incentives to become new customers, so even if using it twice wasn’t explicitly forbidden, it is kindof against the spirit of the deals.

    Also, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the stylist isn’t on an employee basis with the salon, but is rather an independent contractor and her pay really is cut dramatically when customers use Groupons. I think when you pay $50 for a $100 Groupon, $25 goes to the business and Groupon keeps $25, meaning that the business is in essence giving a 75% discount. Tough to make money there even if you’re not an independent contractor.

    If I were in your shoes and had already asked about using the Groupon, I might go ahead and use it. But then I’d tip her a regular tip + the Groupon savings so the stylist wasn’t taking a hit.

    1. That’s the thing- she is NOT an independent contractor (I added that detail to the post). The last time she did my hair she told me that she used to be an independent contractor and hated it. She was new and was glad to be an employee. She made it sound like she got paid by the hour, which is why I’m confused. Also, I tipped her $20 last time!

      And I agree that Groupons are generally meant to lure in new customers, BUT this one has ben up for at least 3 months! I think a Groupon just turns into a sale at a certain point. Most of them are only up for a few weeks!

      1. This is not true! Most new businesses do extended deals specifically because they have NO business. You can generate a book full business in just two weeks. We have a salon ourself and my husband works really hard for his massage and he gets $21 per one hour massage. Our weekly rent is $250, that doesn’t include our office expenses. There is no money to be made in Groupon, is more a sacrifice to generously get business in the door. In my opinion this is taking advantage of someone. Just because it’s been up longer then two, please kindly remember that your savings cost someone else, greatly! I’m not trying to be rude, just openly honest.

        1. This is not true! Most new businesses do extended deals specifically because they have NO business. You can’t generate a book full business in just two weeks. We have a salon ourself and my husband works really hard for his massage and Groupon only pays him $21 per one hour massage. Our weekly rent is $250 and that doesn’t include our office/supply expenses. There is no money to be made in Groupon, its more a sacrifice to generously get business in the door. In my opinion this is taking advantage of someone. Just because it’s been up longer then two, please kindly remember that your savings cost someone else, greatly! I’m not trying to be rude, just openly honest.

  3. MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

    Not that I think using it is bad(they are the ones that did not put limitations on it) but in a hair salon, typically the fee you pay is split between the salon and stylist. That’s the rent the stylist pays for their chair. So like my friend’s wife used to do my hair. Her fee was $65 normally. She would only charge me $30 bc that is what she had to pay to the salon. My guess is the salon gives up nothing on the groupon and the discount comes out of the stylist’s share. The salon gets traffic and they figure if the stylist does a good job, they will earn ongoing clients. You just may not get the same level of customer service this time if she thinks you will only come when there is a groupon.

    1. She said that she is an employee of the salon and not an independent contractor, BUT I certainly do not know the details of how her pay works. I think they should just take the Groupon down or change the terms, personally. Why keep it up for 3 months with “one per visit” if you don’t want people to take advantage of the deal? My guess is that (maybe) the salon owner wants to keep the Groupon going but the stylists don’t necessarily want to. Just a guess though.

  4. Oh, crappy. It must come out of her pay- otherwise why would she mention it (or even necessarily know)? However, I think they should totally mention on the Groupon that you aren’t to use it more than once if that’s the case! Seems like the salon is putting their stylists in this awkward position and you are the innocent bystander who happened to find out. I guess I would probably go ahead and pay full price this time. But I would be shopping for a new place that’s cheaper for next time.

    1. That’s what I’m thinking- maybe the salon is pro-Groupon and the stylists aren’t. And yes, I am going somewhere else with a Groupon next time. There are literally ten salons with groupons in my area at any given time. The Groupon was the only reason I called to make the appointment in the first place!

    2. People can be commission based employees rather than have an hourly guarantee, so the Groupon can still impact the employee’s bottom line. Even if not, there is likely pressure from the salon. I’ve grappled with Groupon guilt too and only use when I honestly think I may become a potential client. If I stay with the business, I may inquire about package deals that are a win-win and takes Groupon out of the picture. There’s also room in the market for a Groupon alternative that takes 20% or less instead of 50%. Not operating at a loss would certainly help the reactions from business owners and staff. Groupon’s 50% is flat out greedy and sets up businesses and clients to have very mixed feelings.

  5. The Groupon is likely a loss the salon is running to bring in new customers. That’s a hard call because the groupon is such a good deal and technically you’re not breaking their rules. I say use it and give a great tip!

  6. I would do just like you – keep the appointment and then pay full price. I’m not sure how they don’t make money, but I feel pretty bad for waitresses and hair dressers and similar professions. Yeah, some of them make great money, but many don’t. Hours can be rough, lots of standing, etc. I tend to be very generous in tipping them – so I’d hate to think they didn’t make any money off their serve ice to me.

    1. Me too! Like I said, I don’t want to save at someone else’s expense. (Although I obviously don’t mind saving at the salon’s expense, hehe)

      1. As a master barber all you would have had to do was tip her, if you tipped based on the percentage of what you would have payed (a percentage of the pre groupon price) that would have been sufficient or even pay the regular price with no tip as that would have been the tip

  7. I love awkward conversations! When I’m not a direct participant that is. The trouble here is that it is a one on one service. In those situations it’s always tough for the service provider to ask for more or for the consumer to ask to pay less. My wife experiences that as a violin teacher. I’m always telling her to raise her prices, but she is very sensitive to how that would affect the relationship. I’m all for it when we’re talking about a larger service provider such as a cable company who we know is already sticking it to us.

    1. Right- exactly. Dealing with an individual is much different than dealing with Comcast!

  8. You aren’t violating the terms of the deal, but you are probably violating the “spirit” of the deal (whatever that means). Like others have said, the idea is to get someone in the door at a deep discount and then keep them at a client. Since many hairstylists have to rent their space, she is probably right, she isn’t making any money off the groupon (other than the tip). So in the end it really boils down to how guilty you feel. Personally, I wouldn’t use a groupon twice at the same place. If I liked their services enough I would just pay their price…

    1. I’m paying full price this time because I already have an appointment- but never again. I have never liked a hairstyle enough for it to be worth $110. I’m just not that picky about my hair!

      1. Hi Holly. I am a Groupon merchant and run an ad on groupon. I state very clearly in my fine print limit one per person and may buy one as a gift. This salon should have as well. Having said that I understand where the salon is coming from. We as merchants discount usually close to 50% and then only get half of that after groupon is paid the other half. We as merchants are hoping to gain a steady full price paying client if they like our services after the initial discounted first time service. We just can’t survive on groupon income so it is disappointing when someone in an attempt to save money wants to use a Groupon again. But if their prices are over the top for you, finding a place that is cheaper is best. I had a client buy 2 groupons and after showing her my fine print when she wanted another appointment I ended up giving in and saw her again with the groupon. It makes the service provider feel as if the customer, in order to save money, will put a hardworking person who works hard to pay their own bills in a position that negatively impacts that. So yes I think using a Groupon at the same place twice is tacky. But they should clarify their rules on that better too. It also hurts our feelings! You sound like a nice person though so good luck finding a more affordable place.

  9. You can go to various hair salon places with different Groupons. I would either pay full price this time and if you average out between the two visits, you still saved a lot of money or use the groupon and give a fairly generous tip – say 20-25% of what the full price would have been. You are still saving money.

  10. Salons have so many different ways of paying their stylists, from renting their space, to splitting the fees, to hourly plus tips, that it’s hard to say how she’s getting paid, and who is losing out on the Groupon. Having worked in a restaurant for many, many years, my initial thought about the “we don’t make any money off those” was more about the perception of how much would be made on a discounted service. Even if a stylist is making an hourly wage, usually tips still make up a bulk of their take home pay. A lot of servers don’t like when people use coupons for their meal, because people tend to tip on the discounted amount. If the stylist has had the same experience with people using Groupons, she may have the same opinion; People tip on the discounted amount, so she isn’t making as much money. The reality is, many people (like you) will tip on the full cost. But it’s about the stylist’s perception. Just like many servers hate working the big Holidays (Valentine’s Day, New Years Eve, etc.), because so many people make this the one time of year they come out, and then cheap out on the tip. So the server is twice as busy, but making less than normal on many tables. It’s not the reality of every table, but enough tables to skew the servers perception of the event.

    Or, her company could be making her take a cut in the loss on the Groupon. In which case, the company sucks for doing that to their employees, especially if they aren’t going to put limitations on the Groupon’s use.

    1. I agree with the last part. I have no idea how they work out the payment though, and I don’t know her well enough to ask! =)

  11. I think its fine, they are the ones offering it and if there is no fine print restricting it why not. If it’s truly just to attract new customers for a one time savings they should update the groupon deal. If that’s the case I wonder what the % of people just take the 1 time deal and never make a second appointment at the salon. This sounds to me more like a bad business / promotional issue then YOUR issue.

    1. Unfortunately, once the deal is launched you can’t change it. It’s a contract. When I ran my first deal recently, the sales people were extremely pushy and they did not give me an option of the fine print I could use. They create the deal and you sign up. There’s no preview before launch either to catch things like this. I also had three options to choose from and when we set a cap, I took that to mean all options included. They made it for each option!!! Then, after the contract is signed, and you agree to get your 40-50% of the income, their fine print says they also take their fees out of your cut!!! As a sole proprietor with no employees,
      I ended up doing nothing but groupons for three months straight, hardly time to answer the phone, booking people 4-6 weeks in advance and people getting pissed off left right and Center. I was not prepared (nor did I have any patience) for someone requesting to take advantage of the deal twice!!
      I have not been able able to feed my child for weeks now, and the little bit I got from Groupon barely covers my rent at the shop and with me being prebooked for weeks, no one wants to rebook and therefore I have no new money coming in.
      If I had known what would happen, I would have been a lot more strict with groupons sales team and stood my ground, I would have set a much lower cap to leave room for rebookings and I would have had a very enticing follow up offer for those who wanted another great deal, only this time I could pay my bills.
      I have barely made it through half the vouchers now and they are starting to expire. This month I will either have to close my doors and go on welfare or by some miracle make enough to cover the rent from tips and next month have less bookings so I can book in some profitable ones and maybe feed my poor child next month.

      1. ANnarbrorgirl says:

        To Kim (comment October 2016) – Wow!! Thanks for sharing the perspective from a small business owner. As a customer who has felt irritated by the limited availability for appointments and having to schedule so far out (example bought a mani/pedi Groupon for Mother’s Day and wanted to go with my mom but could not get an appointment together) – I honestly appreciate hearing the experience from the business. I know most businesses do the Groupons to attract new return customers but what happened to Kim sounds terrible and unfair. Groupon could literally drive small businesses into bankruptcy. I also pay a lot of attention to online reviews and I bet someone like Kim would end up with some scathing reviews from customers who had a hard time scheduling or felt rushed through due to the busyness of the poor owner. Shame on Groupon. Everyone- PLEASE GIVE A HUGE TIP when you use a groupon/couponn.

  12. The goal of the Groupon is to get people in the door – and they’re successfully doing that. The statement “we don’t make any money on that” is crap. Someone is making money……what I would do is use the groupon, but give her an extra sized tip. That way the Salon still gets their money (the $55) and the stylist gets a bigger tip just in case she doesn’t get the same rate on the Groupon deals. I have a friend that owns a salon and she gave me a free massage for my bday. So, I paid nothing for the massage, but I tripled the tip amount. It still was hella cheap, and the employee got a good tip out of the deal.

    1. The salon only gets 50% of what the Groupon deal is, so in this case Groupon gets $27.50 and the salon gets $27.50.

  13. This sounds like something I’d get myself into. I’d probably do the same thing you’re doing by not using the groupon this time, but then I wouldn’t ever go back since I’d be too cheap to pay full price. 🙁 Ugh. They shouldn’t offer that on groupon then.
    I also got off groupon!

    1. Thanks Robin! I’m all about Groupon for haircare and dental appointments.

      1. Obviously old

        Just give her a bigger too. She makes what she would off the groupon, then she gets a bigger chunk, not the salon. Since you obviously liked her work, and you are going back to her specifically, it would help the stylist.

  14. I would cancel the appointment to avoid paying full price. They GOTCHA when you do that. The only reason you were considering going back is because of the Groupon! You’ve already decided you’re not going to be a regular customer at the full price, so why worry about what the stylist thinks?

    1. The appointment is 2 days away so I don’t want to cancel. I feel like that is a rude thing to do to anybody.

  15. I have always wondered about how the money is split between Groupon and the retailer. I assumed that the retail store does take a bit of a hit hoping the Groupon brings business in but I assume they still make some money. Otherwise it doesn’t make business sense because I’m sure a lot of people only go to that place when there’s a Groupon. In any case, when I feel coupon or groupon guilt I just give a more generous tip. That should make the hairdresser happy.

  16. I’m with you in that I’d feel guilty and keep the appointment and pay full price, but I certainly would mention to the owners that if they don’t want people to use it twice they need to make sure that’s in the policy. I think they do take a cut from the stylist when they do that and the stylist is affected. But it’s a tough call because you’re technically not wrong at all!

    1. I might mention it to the owner if I can do so without a bunch of fanfare!

  17. Sticky wicket there, Holly.

    I suppose I’d just figure out if this is going to be a one or two time thing, or if you think you’ll have a long term business relationship with this hairdresser. If it’s the latter, I’d skip the Groupon.

    1. Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking. I typically hop from salon to salon based on coupons or groupons. I don’t need a long-term relationship- haircare is too expensive for that! =/

  18. Why not just use the groupon but tip extra? The tip will go into your stylist’s pocket.

    It’s not you’re responsibility to make the company (or stylist) profitable. It’s their responsibility to set pricing and terms that they can live with. I understand that the company may have set these terms, and the stylist pays the price, which is why I suggested tipping more. But even that isn’t really your responsibility. I use groupons to the same restaurants and massage places all the time.

    Honestly, if you can talk to the manager/owner, the best thing you can do for them is let them know that Groupon rates are usually negotiable. By default they take 50% of the discounted price, but I’ve successfully negotiated that down to 20% for my clients in some cases. That doesn’t always work, and probably wouldn’t go that low for businesses with a lot of competition, but most people don’t know that the rate is negotiable at all, Groupon doesn’t make it sound like it is when you talk to them.

    But you really don’t need to feel guilty, it’s not on you.

    1. Thanks Nathan =)

      I tipped really well last time. If I have to pay full price this time out of guilt, I might just tip the standard amount.

      1. Heidi Alexander says:

        You can also approach the businesses that are running specials and offer to pay the same amount as they offer on Groupon. They then have the opportunity to receive 50% of the normal income vs. 25%. That may make everyone a bit happier.

  19. My husband’s employer did Groupon – once.

    My understanding is (a) the idea is to generate NEW customers, and (b) if, say, you bought a $100 Groupon for $50, Groupon would keep $30-40 and the company would MAYBE receive $20 – for $100 in product/services. It’s not a money-maker for the company, but rather a new-customer generator. Ideally.

    When I do use Groupons, I usually try to either buy enough in addition to the Groupon to at least cover the cost to the company and/or leave a generous tip. Sometimes that’s not easy – I did a cheese-making class once where I bought the Groupon, then went to the class. There really wasn’t an opportunity to purchase anything else OR to tip.

    Also, we have one local company (hand-made empanadas – yum!) that offers Groupons probably once a year or so, with a limit of FIVE. I buy five of those suckers every time they’re available, and then I get my empanada on every chance I get. 🙂

    1. Adding here that it was kind of unprofessional of the stylist to treat a customer that way – it’s not YOUR problem if they “don’t make any money” when you use the Groupon HER employer offered you.

      I might just consider using a different stylist. . .

      1. I agree. I think I just caught her off guard =/

      2. Hi Holly, I had an experience once with a reiki healer and she was upset that I used a Groupon the second time and honestly I had no idea and was innocent about the Groupon business. Never read any print because it was so simple to click and buy at a great discount. I told her I didn’t know about anything about Groupon and I was being honest about it, so she looked at me like a crazy lady. I ended giving her a 30 dollar tip so she would shut it but I just didn’t like how she approach me about the deal. I honestly don’t think businesses should be using the Groupon if they don’t want to lose money. What a joke, so annoying!

  20. Well personally I’m not sure I’d want to go back to the stylist -because what if she feels that since she might only get paid half, she can do a half-a$$ed job on your hair? She’s obviously sensitive on the subject if she mentioned it to a client over the phone!
    Even if you double the stylist’s tip to make up for the “loss” of using a groupon, the stylist won’t know that when she’s doing your hair beforehand. What if you take a picture of what your hair looked like (when it was freshly done by this stylist) and went to another salon? You get the same ‘do and avoid the awkwardness and can use a groupon.
    I agree that the salon should have put limitations on the groupon.

    1. I know, right? Make the rules that you want people to follow. If you only want one per person, say so!

  21. I’m a weenie. I would just cancel the appointment. I’d be thinking she’d do a half-butt job because of the Groupon. It’s like when someone you’re with isn’t very nice to a waiter or waitress. I’m sure there’s going to be something unseemly in both of our meals! If it were me, I’d find a different salon. (For full disclosure sake, I haven’t been to a salon in over 10 years. I taught myself how to do my own hair.) 😛

    1. Haha! Yeah, hopefully she won’t jack up my hair.

  22. I would definitely use the Groupon. The company authorized the Groupon and did not set any limitations on it. We have friends that own a Dairy Queen and they have groupons constantly for their ice cream cakes because the volume of business they get totally offsets the discount for them. I realize it’s a different business model in this case but as a business owner I’m sure they are not doing anything that will cost them money. Don’t feel bad. Get your discount!

  23. Ben Luthi says:

    First of all, I doubt they don’t make any money at all on them, considering how expensive it is. Secondly, if they’re so butt hurt about not making any money on them, they shouldn’t use them.

    I would feel bad saving money at someone else’s expense if they were helpless. But when that someone else is a business and they’re using that money saving technique as part of their business plan and they clearly have the choice to use it or not, I would have no scruples whatsoever.

    1. Butt-hurt used properly in a sentence. I like it! I agree with you though =) If you don’t want to take a loss on something, don’t provide people with a coupon. I never feel bad when I get like ten boxes of cereal for super cheap either, even if that is a loss leader for Kroger or whoever.

      1. Ben Luthi says:

        lol. Also, after reading other comments, I realize that it may be that the owner may be screwing the stylists by not paying them on the Groupon deals. If that’s the case, I’d avoid the salon altogether if they’re going to treat their stylists that way.

      2. Heidi Alexander says:

        With Kroger, there is more of a chance you will also buy lots of other groceries. Unless you are stocking up their shampoo and styling products, they don’t have the opportunity as a big box retailer to recoup the investment.

  24. To be completely honest, this post reads like you being cheap.

    I used to go around to different hair salons with Groupons because I’ve never clicked well with a hair stylist. Different personalities. I only get my hair cut, not styled or colored, so I’m really not that picky at all. Eventually after it turned out to be impossible to find a reasonable hair cut for $40 or less around here, I ended up at a $70+ place. I loved my hair cut so much that I resolved to just get it cut once a year for $80 – same cost, but a better cut that actually continues to look great for a year. And the best part? I like my stylist and her salon is one block from my place.

    As another commenter said, Groupons are generally loss leaders, meant to bring in new business. I don’t think anyone really makes money on them except the customers. Also, think about how much time your stylist spends on your hair cut, color, and style. I wouldn’t want it to be my fault that she got paid so little.

    1. Ummm….I am cheap? I think we’ve established that.

      But I’m confused about your comment. Maybe you missed this part:

      ” I also don’t want to save money at someone else’s expense, and am willing to fork over an extra $50 to avoid that situation, even if that isn’t the case. At the same time, I also feel like they shouldn’t sell Groupons if they don’t want people to take advantage of them.”

      I don’t feel bad for trying to save money at all. I AM CHEAP and proud of it (as long as it doesn’t result in a direct cut in pay for someone else)

  25. I think it’s fine. I actually feel like it’s kind of tacky for her to say that too you. Groupons will specifically state whether or not it’s for new customers only. If not, it’s fair game. I would just be sure to tip her according to the full price.

  26. My short answer is no. I do understand that they might be annoyed at someone using it twice since the whole goal is to get people to start coming and have them pay full price. I can understand why they don’t make any money on it, too, since they probably pay $30 to Groupon per Groupon sold.

    But no, I don’t think it’s tacky to use one twice.

  27. I would use the groupon. In the past, we have done coupons and promos at our office that backfired because we didn’t word them right and got burned by people combining with insurance. We didn’t ever dishonor a coupon or make the patients feel bad, but it helped us learn how to place limits on promotions. She should still get paid if she is an employee so I would use it as a learning experience for the salon. If they don’t learn, it’s not your problem.

  28. Im pretty frugal so this may be biased but…….you can’t control the decisions of the business. And when they decided to take a loss on the Groupon, that is their own fault. I think it is fine to use it once, and maybe twice, but any more is a bit overboard. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that they shouldn’t have made the Groupon for $55 if that meant taking a loss. My guess is that they just want to get people in the door to buy their products – which likely have a high markup. Do you buy any products while there? If so they could easily make their money back on that (along with any tip you might give the hairdresser). Either way – you can’t control the Groupon decision so I wouldn’t worry about it

  29. This is though. If they aren’t making much money from Groupon users, then they either need to stop advertising through Groupon or they need to have a “one per customer” rule. I know Groupon takes a rather large cut (I think it’s 50%?), but no one is forcing them to be on Groupon.

  30. Oh snap, that’s the worst. I’d probably pay full price this one last time and then not go back. I hate feeling awkward. That said, I’d be tempted to just ask her, “what’s the deal with the groupons” and ask if she personally didn’t get paid (but maybe that’s rude?). If she didn’t get paid I’d feel bad. If the salon didn’t get paid, that’s their fault for not putting a limit on the coupon (and I’d use the groupon).

  31. To be honest, I think it was rude of the hairdresser to make that comment to you. I can understand why she may be frustrated, but I don’t think she is directing her frustration to the right person. All I ever want to do when I go and get my hair done is to relax and enjoy.. I don’t want a guilt trip!

  32. I am not a big Groupon user; however, I feel if someone is going to keep putting offers on Groupon, then they should honor them. It’s not your fault she doesn’t make money from it, and I think it’s a little cheesy that she even said that to you.

  33. Ah, that’s tricky. If that were me, I’d probably just give it up and spend the extra $$$ to avoid the ‘coupon guilt.’ At face value, you aren’t doing anything wrong — the Groupon is still available and you’re not trying to break any of the rules, and that wasn’t exactly cool of the stylist to make you feel bad about using the Groupon — but if it ultimately makes you feel better to either save money elsewhere or fork it over at the original salon, I say go that route.

  34. I know how you feel. This is why I haven’t even colored my hair since June, right before my wedding! Since then, I’ve gotten one haircut and have simply let my color go. Around here we have similar Groupon deals but the best non-Groupon deal I’ve ever gotten on cut, color and style was $75 (but it’s an hour’s drive away). I wouldn’t use Groupon period. I simply call up the salon and ask them if I can’t get the Groupon deal and they always say yes, because that way they are getting 100% of the discounted price, instead of 50%. As far as using it twice, they definitely should clarify their T&C’s, because I doubt they want to have customers use it more than once!

  35. A lot of businesses overlook the fine print which is a huuuuge mistake. There’s a famous story of a well-known butcher here in Toronto who had to claim bankruptcy because people overused his Groupon deal. It was really unfortunate.

    That being said, it sounds like the salon assumed some sort of unwritten repeat coupon rule. I would go back but let them know it wasn’t written in the fine print so you thought it was okay.

  36. Enneirda07 says:

    There’s nothing wrong with BUYING and using a Groupon twice, as you did. I’m tired of businesses offering Groupons or other such deals, then making the customer feel guilty for actually using it. You’re (the business) the one that needs/wants business so bad that you are offering your goods or services for 50% or more off. As much as they complain, making some money is better than making none. I’ve bought Groupon deals twice (or more) and will continue to do so as long as they are offered at a business I am interested in. I also tip on the regular price when I do so (and it sounds like you did as well) so while the business as a whole might take a loss, actual servers or hair stylists should still come out fine.

  37. If the rules allow it, I don’t see what the problem is for you. Retailers need to know what they are getting into when they offer Groupons. Just the same, if you liked the service at a discount, you should try it at normal price at some point in the future – there’s something to be said for quality!

  38. I am a bookkeeper for a restaurant that participated in a Groupon promotion two years ago.
    If someone paid $25 for a $50’gift certificate, we received $12.50.
    So, no, the participating business doesn’t really make anything once costs are covered.
    We did it to bring new people in the door.

  39. If I find a great deal on groupon for a service, I’ll often call the company directly before purchasing the groupon and ask if they’ll give me the groupon price without buying the actual groupon, essentially cutting out groupon as the middle man (sorry groupon!). Often times they’re more than happy to do it, because they don’t have to split the money with groupon and they get a new customer in the door. Very rarely do they ask me to buy the groupon first. I’d try that next time.

    1. Excellent idea! Nothing to lose if they say no!

  40. You need to be aware that when you pay $55.00 for a groupon the business owner only gets about half the other half goes to Groupon Inc. As a business owner myself I welcome groupon users with open arms and provide them with the best possible service but only 1 time. I use groupon to attract new customers and if you are not open to the possibility to become a regular customer and just an habitual Grouponner then you are just a cheapskate.

  41. Knowing that the business pays Groupon 50% of the deal, I called the business (massage business) and asked if they would give me the Groupon price through them, without me purchasing the Groupon. They agreed! Therefore, took out the middleman (Groupon), I saved money and the business made twice what they would have if I had purchased the Groupon and used that.

  42. I’m a business owner who has used Groupon & I absolutely despise it. Never got a repeat customer “99.9% just want a deal” tips are horrible. I used the fine print for 1 per customer.

    Groupon takes 50% then can take 80% when they want to. After taxes i made about $1 an hour.

    I worked for a company that used Groupon as well & worked 8 hour days for $0 an hour.

    I won’t use Groupon! Not as a customer or a vendor. It’s insulting to the business.

    I didn’t realize how much they took from me until I did the tax. In certain states like mine you have to pay full tax on the coupon (state, local, sales) as if it weren’t discounted when using something like Groupon. In actuality I was losing money minus $11 an hour. Not worth it.

    If you use it please keep in mind it’s small businesses way of getting potential repeat customers. Advertising is extremely expensive & there is no competition with Groupon (they have bought everyone out).
    Only use it with the intention of coming back & paying full price.

    I will add Groupon clients aren’t treated the same as repeat clients. I had a bitter taste in my mouth when they would come in, get a really good service, then not rebook. I quit caring, I quit trying. I haven’t used that God awful, greedy site again. Not as a vendor, I refuse to as a customer.

  43. As someone who has run to groupon campaigns I can tell you that in this case because she’s an hourly employee and not working on her own she is not directly off acted by the groupon however I can tell you that these group on’s do not make the salon any money they are and advertising expense and they are marketing it at a loss I’m a group on takes no less usually than 50% of what your paying so if you paid $55 for the groupon then the salon is actually getting $27.50 for all of the work that they’ve done for you and that also depends on if you Ted whether or not she would receive any additional benefits so think about that $27.50 om depending on how long your process took it could take 2 to 3 hours so whatever she is getting paid per hour the salon is paying that cost plus the cost of supplies X cetera and the hopes are honestly that you enjoy your product and/or service and are enticed to become a regular at bats salon and by regular that also means a regular price paying customer that being saying said there is nothing wrong with purchasing a groupon for a second time technically but if you really want to support the local economy and support the salon then keep in mind that those groupons are the salon making an investment of time and money to bring in new customers and not for existing customers to continue using the reduced rate. Each time you do that it kind of removes an opportunity for a new client to take advantage of the groupon since they usually cap it at a 100 redemptions. In addition doing this has the long term effect of affecting how people treat people with Groupons. If you are gonna use a groupon try purchasing of products adding on a deep conditioning treatment or leaving of really have to tip on the full price of the service and not of the groupon price.I know that I’m one of this you people who do not treat those who I have come with coupons any differently. I like to treat everybody like they’re spending a million bucks with me so that they really enjoy themselves.

  44. The hairdresser is essentially giving half of that to Groupon, factor in cost of supplies, booth rent, and time, she’s barely making anything. Companies use Groupon to get their name out there, and hopefully attract new customers. I know as consumers we love to save a buck, but try to use your better judgement.

  45. The issue is these companies using Groupon are not taking the time to do their research on the process and setup their Groupon accordingly. Then, they want to act incredulous towards customers who are simply following the rules listed on Groupon. It is not your customers responsibility to understand what your marketing strategy is and what your profit/loss from Groupon usage is.

    Take some accountability and setup your Groupon at a price that is acceptable to your bottom line and/or set strict limits on their usage. That is YOUR responsibility. Many times for restaurants, they will have a purchase limit of 1 and possibly being able to buy 1 additional as a “gift”. They also state that a Groupon can only be used by the same person once every 90 days. I don’t think that 90 day window is actually tracked, but that at least puts the customer on notice and at that point they would have to be willingly ignoring the terms they agreed to. These restaurants run these Groupons year round for years on end, and seem to be well run businesses, so obviously Groupon can work well…. if you use it correctly and stop expecting customers to abide by some unwritten rules you have come up with to fix your mistake.

    Bottom line, if you are opening a new business and do your research to know the Groupon’s will actually lose money for you, then you need to weigh the long-term benefit of driving business and only run the campaign for a very short period of time. You can always do another one if it works well. Remember, the money you spend/lose with Groupon would have otherwise needed to be spent on advertising. Running a small business isn’t easy, and people not doing their homework first is why so many fail.

  46. Business owner says:

    I have literally never left a controversial remark online in my life but I simply cannot believe this asinine conversation. I am a small business owner, and I work 18 hours a day 7 days a week just to make ends meet. Do I want to use Groupon? NO! But all my competitors use Groupon so if I don’t, I’m not going to get any new customers. Groupon costs the business owner A LOT of money. The theory is that the customer would come in and love our service so much that they would actually become a regular paying customer (imagine that). If our service isn’t good enough for you to pay for it, DON’T FREAKING USE IT! Geez! Do you want to work for free? I’m guessing not. Well guess what? We don’t either. Try us out. If you love us and want to come back and pay, great. If not…. go buy a Groupon at another place. Hopefully you will like them enough to actually pay for your service.

  47. Business owner says:

    PS. Im assuming that if you want to buy a second Groupon at my business that you do like my service, but you just don’t want to pay for it. Is that rude? HELL YES!

  48. Ok I do not agree with this. First off people cut hair for 16 bucks. It is possible to make some living off this. If not why can you find shops that charge this on the daily? And don’t use the excuse well I’m high end. No you just gouge the poo outa your service and expect people to come. Humm people to come sounds like that’s the issue and I wonder why??? And let’s think people that don’t hire help we’ll we both know why you do this. I’m a daughter of a small business owner. So being booked for months on end that is your own greed circling back at you. And no one is holding a gun to your head to put your business on Groupon. My moms competitors do a lot of things my mom just can’t do. But she is tactical and finds new inventive ways to keep up. She goes the extra mile. She doesn’t get upset and expect the world and her customers to fix it. She gets her big girl undies on and fixed it herself. So ok Groupon burned you once shame on them. Groupon burns you twice shame on you no complaints.

  49. John smiths says:

    Groupon requires the salon accept
    ” limit 3 vouchers per person, 1 for gift “
    And also “ be able to buy every month”.

    Basically the salon + hair stylist make $25 together from Your visit. It doesn’t matter how much the salon pays the hair stylist, neither of them can get more than$25. Let’s say the salon pays the hair stylist $12.5, the salon keeps $12.5, the salon has to pay for the rent , the product, water & power bill …… so how much left for the salon? So if everybody uses Groupon every time, the salon can’t stay open. The situation is a little better for the hair stylist , she might get $12.5 for the paycheck , also a tip.
    It’s not your fault though. Most people don’t know that the salons are forced to accept 3 per person per month. The salon needs to get new customers so they have to accept the pain.

  50. John smith says:

    To answer your question:
    Is it tacky? Yes, it’s more than tacky.
    Is it legal? Yes, it’s legal.

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