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Let's talk about coupons

I grew up in a household where coupon collecting was not truly appreciated. Back then, coupons were thought to be for old ladies who were pinching their pension pennies, not for families with pretty solid middle-class leanings. But the recent explosion of cool couponing (your Groupons, your Living Socials, etc.) has really turned things around. So much so, in fact, that my mom—the biggest anti-coupon person I know—bought a Groupon vacation to Fiji. Fiji! And she was really excited about it, too.

I have to admit, this scared me a little, and I don’t know why. There’s really no difference between booking a vacation this way and through, say, Expedia, but some part of me got nervous on her behalf. What if the place was crappy? What if the pictures were lies? What if Groupon had fine print that she didn’t read? What if…what if…what if.

This all got me thinking about how we view “deals” in our culture, and it made me feel kind of sad. Some part of us still feels like, if we’re getting a deal, we must be getting ripped off somehow. That the product we’re buying is going to be “lesser” or going bad, as it were. But in this day and age, with the internet and crowd behaviour, that’s next to impossible, which is awesome—today, if someone gets sold a bum product, all they have to do is take to the internet to let everyone know. Soon enough, that crappy deal is shut down, because a company doesn’t want to have to deal with PR nightmare that ensues.

So, if you think about it, the coupon craze is pretty cool. It allows us to get deals, and because of the online nature of a lot of this stuff, it allows us to also ensure we know what we’re getting and we get what we want (Groupon and its many imitators have a place for you to ask questions about something before you buy). And, if somehow the thing turns out worse than you thought, you have a legitimate forum to complain about it. Not bad, technology, not bad!

Oh, and my mom goes to Fiji in November. I’ll let you know how her trip goes!

image via eschipul

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