Thanksgiving has just passed, and I’m quitting Groupon cold turkey.
It seems like just yesterday that Groupon and Living Social were opening shop in Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill. Discounted bowling, dinner, massages, movie tickets. All things I love. Then came the clones with names like Twongo and MyUncleVinny. Even local radio stations got in on the madness. I willingly obliged and was soon spending the first half hour at work weeding through limitless emails offering the same Teeth Whitening and Mani/Pedi offers that had no possibility of ending up as a charge to my debit card. I even saw a Groupon for half off $4000 lasik surgery. Because everybody loves a good deal on getting their eyeballs lasered. When I actually purchased a deal that interested me, you know how I found out about it? Through my social network connections, all jonesin’ for some free vouchers. I very quickly was experiencing “Daily Deal Fatigue” and decided it was time to trim the fat. I cut my daily deal quota to the original gangsters, Groupon and LivingSocial.
Soon, I was rewarded for my loyalty. These two behemoths that were surpassing $5 billion valuations went back to doing what they initially did best, innovating. LivingSocial launched Living Social Escapes and soon offered amazing national deals with Whole Foods and Fandango. Groupon launched Groupon Now, a fabulous way for restaurants and other businesses to drive business in non-peak hours. Groupon even sent me an email letting me know I would be receiving $15 to spend on any Groupon Now voucher. I happily bought myself a doner kebab and felafel at a middle eastern restaurant I never even knew existed. Life was good again.
Groupon’s IPO quiet period soon came and went in surprisingly loud fashion. I remained loyal through all the bad press coverage, all the while my actual voucher purchases began to tail off. Two daily emails from the companies were still worth it if I picked out a diamond in the rough here and there. This Thanksgiving, I was still thankful for the group buying model for good reason: I heard a Wall Street Journal podcast discussing Living Social’s upcoming Black Friday/Cyber Monday extravaganza, offering another batch of killer national deals. I woke up that Friday, still filled to the brim with turkey and stuffing, only to discover that my inbox had expanded more than my stomach. I emptied my inbox that morning with no discretion, much like I emptied the squash casserole leftovers later that evening.
The next day a funny thing happened. I was having a beer with my wife and her brother at a Charlotte sports bar, watching some rivalry football games. At half time, while I was waiting for an old friend to arrive, I decided to check in on Foursquare. The bar carried the new Guinness Black Lager, so I posted my check-in to Twitter and Facebook, with my beer snob critique of the new brew (I approved). Foursquare then notified me that I had unlocked a special for “Small Business Saturday”. Within a minute, I linked up my AmEx to my Foursquare account, and just like that, my $25 bar tab was paid for via an AmEx credit. I was so impressed with the concept that I sent out a second tweet, not only about Ed’s Tavern, the pub we were imbibing at, but also mentioning Foursquare and AmEx’s unique partnership. Synergy at it’s finest. I said bye to friends and family the next day and returned to Raleigh, but not before systematically emptying my email of daily deals yet again. Still looking for that diamond in the rough.
It wasn’t until that Monday, when I got to work after a wonderful holiday break, that my weakening love affair with Groupon came to a screeching halt. I sat down at my desk, opened my Gmail, only to see this string of emails from Groupon, all within 40 minutes of eachother.
Four emails? Seriously? I went from being relaxed and content (maybe the tryptophan was still having an effect on me) to being red hot mad.
While Groupon certainly deserves to have their ass kicked for such a blatant violation of email etiquette, a simple unsubscribe will signify the end of my torrid daily deal love affair. I’ll continue redeeming Foursquare specials, because they happen organically and don’t leave a sour taste in my mouth. I will even try services like ScoutMob and GrubWithUs when they launch in my market. But Groupon, the fastest growing company in the history of the world, will never find it’s way to my inbox again. Perhaps one day I will download their app again, making sure to disable the familiarly annoying push notification that comes as a standard app feature. I might even discover some new restaurants again using Groupon Now. The more likely scenario however, is harnessing the power of my social graph to weed through the mind boggling volume of daily deals, allowing deal seeking friends to post those diamonds in the rough.