It’s habit to spend the first 10 waking minutes of the day weeding our inbox of terrible “deals” from the myriad coupon sites that totally miss the mark (you can keep your steaks and microdermabrasions as those are two things I never need in my life). The temptation to jump on a deal you-think-you-might-eventually-use-sometime is high, especially when half-off any meal seems like reason to celebrate. Except, sometimes it isn’t, and sometimes the “deal” is just a whored-up advertising game designed to get you in the door. Bloomberg News food critic Ryan Sutton is out to expose these deals that aren’t worth their weight in pixels with his new blog The Bad Deal. It’s worth checking before you click “buy” from now on to find out what’s really behind that offer.
Sutton wants to be one of the first “deal critics” to help you pause before you impulse buy. “These are uncharted waters but I don’t believe that deals should die or triumph with impunity,” he writes on the site. “Deals demand criticism.”
For instance, today the site highlights a DailyCandy $80 brunch “deal” at the Kimberly Hotel in Midtown, which includes entree, dessert and two cocktails. To explain the bad deal here, Sutton presents a hypothetical conversation between a Williamsburg couple:
CHARLEE: Hey babe. Wanna have brunch in Midtown Manhattan?
RENEE: Not really, who goes to Midtown on the weekends?
CHARLEE: But I bought us this great offer: two courses and two cocktails.
RENEE: $40 bucks? A cocktail each? Sure That’s enough to share.
CHARLEE: Wait, sweetie, there’s no sharing allowed with this deal. So I had to buy two vouchers. So technically that’s $80 bucks.
RENEE: Hold on, I thought we were saving money?
Mostly, he’s been taking aim at sites like DailyCandy and Thirllist, whose offers skirt the line of actual savings and packages of overspending (This Thrillist deal for $99 for a 90-minute frat party of beer, nachos, wings and shots actually costs more than if you just did the same thing on your own). He also lays out the eight bad deal rules so you can tell when someone is helping you save money vs. when they’re helping you spend money.
But there aren’t good deals out there from Groupon on down, including a few where you don’t have to pay up front, so all this goes toward encouraging you to be a savvy consumer. But seriously whoever you are, stop sending me steak coupons, and send more for things like this please.