When the June 11 Groupon for 47 percent off a vertical wind tunnel ride in nearby Nashua, N.H., hit Nuzhat Karim’s e-mail, the Newton resident was tempted.
“I was like ‘Oh my God that would be so awesome,” she said. “Then I was like ‘OK, no, no, we still have a budget.’”
Couponing websites offering subscribers daily deals are the latest online social networking phenomenon but they can also be dangerously addictive.
“People are making too many impulse purchases and when they add up it’s still more than they can afford,” said Ian Cross, director of Bentley University’s Center for Marketing Technology. “People get caught up in the excitement of getting a great deal and it’s something they didn’t need in the first place.
“Its viral nature makes it easy to share through social networking media. It dissipates any sense of individual guilt.”
Groupon PR Manager Julie Mossler said thousands have called their addiction hotline, which is a tongue-in-cheek outgoing message that sypathizes with users’ excitement about the service. On a more serious note, Mossler claims that Groupon are the only daily deal site with a no-questions-asked return policy.
“We are doing our part to curb consumer spending,” she said. “We’re not out to steal people’s money. We never offer ‘gotcha’ deals. “Ultimately, while people are hooked on great deals it’s kind of a kick in the butt to go do things in your city that you never do.”