Some think we're in the sunset phase of the online coupon industry. But I think it's the sunrise phase. Meaning that everyone is waking up to the notion that it's all too good to be true.
First, we're all getting a little tired of 55% off coupons for manicures. There seems to be a bit of dearth of deals that have actual value.
Second, we're starting to find out that these deals aren't such great deals after all. In fact, a study has come out to show that at least 11% of Groupon coupons are crap.
It turns out that in local services, there is a high incidence of deals offered through Groupon that turn out to be more expensive than services offered by their competitors. In other words, the vendor jacks up his rates, then discounts them to appear like he's giving a great deal. But the user of the coupon could have easily got an equal or better deal by simply checking the prices of local competitors.
Although it's not surprising that you would eventually see this kind of false advertising by vendors who realize they can get away with it, it's disappointing that Groupon doesn't warn us about it. It's not illegal, but it at least has the appearance of being unethical.
Groupon is starting to look a bit like Netflix. They both have big guns. They both have the squarely aimed at their own feet.