Friday, September 30, 2011

The Underbelly of the Deal

I grew up in a flower shop. It was at the front of our house. My mom, who was widowed at 46 and still had four kids at home, ran it. These were my first lessons in business. She was (and is) an incredibly strong woman. From her I learned to stand up for myself and not take shit from people.

People often ask how the Groupon we did went. It went great. Even Groupon was surprised by how well we did, and we got a good number of new and dedicated customers out of it. That's why businesses run deals: to promote themselves.

What is not so great is dealing with a Groupon when the deal ends. Turns out, the end of a deal can really brings out the worst in people.

One woman called right as the deal was to expire and claimed she had called and left numerous messages, but because we had not returned her calls she could not get in on time. 

Another called the last day of the deal, and said that other clinics had honored the Groupon as long as an appointment was scheduled by the expiration date. Clearly, a seasoned veteran at not using her Groupon on time, when I explained how we had decided to handle the missed deadline ($10 off first visit), she said, "So I'm not getting anything out of this." Huh. She could have gotten 50% out of it. Instead she chose no treatment and to loose $20 instead of just $10.

Then there was the woman who happened to be particularly -  kind of crazily - high maintenance (we're not a high maintenance kind of place), who came on a friends Groupon for the allotted two treatments, and then got upset when we called her out when she tried to keep going on another of her friends Groupons. She acted like she thought what we were doing with how we run our clinic was such a great idea. In truth, I think she just liked getting something for free.

Another, who had used one treatment, but let the deadline pass on the other, declined her second treatment when we told her that past the expiration date we'd give her $5 off. People are funny. Apparently they'd rather get nothing and be disgruntled about not having the terms of a deal honored (terms they themselves are not honoring) than get something.

Yet another emailed and said she had never purchased a Groupon before, and so didn't know they expired - even though the first line of the deal is the expiration date. Come on now....

Probably one of the more fascinating (and yes, slightly annoying) things about this whole deal phenomenon is how people apparently don't even know what they are buying. They only know it's cheap. They don't read the terms of the deal, however brief. And they don't so much as click through the link to the businesses website to see if what they are getting into is even something they might want to do.

One woman was so aghast at being still with her own thoughts for a few minutes while she got acupuncture that she actually got angry. One of the weirdest things I've ever experienced as an acupuncturist for sure. I'm glad someone else was around to witness it.

So, where we're at in all of this is...if people continue to be assholes about their expired Groupons we're just going to shut the whole thing down and just call it over - because we're already a deal.

We are affordable. We are not, however, cheap. And we will not be cheapened by consumers running roughshod over us because their coupon expired. To quote a patient of mine, "Oh give me a break! ALL COUPONS EXPIRE."