Friday, January 8, 2010

Groupon Etiquette

So I am addicted to Groupons. In case you have somehow escaped my overly aggressive efforts at getting you to eat dinner at an inconveniently located restaurant with food you are not in the mood for, let me share a little bit about Groupons.

Each day, Groupon posts a deal for a local business (most often restaurants or spas, but have included gym memberships, hardware stores, and pet sitting- all the things the young yuppie loves). Living Social has essentially the same thing. I am signed up for both, and can't get enough. $30 for $60 to spend somewhere new and tasty is just too good of a deal to pass up. Unfortunately, I have trouble controlling my enthusiasm. I have bought groupons for just about every spa service offered for 50% off or more. This has resulted in a wide variety of uncoordinated facials with technicians who were utterly confused about what the real deal with my skin was since someone from some other salon just treated me a week ago. I bought one for Mourayo because I thought it sounded like sushi. Turns out its an unremarkable Greek place in Dupont that I can't get anyone to eat at with me. I signed up for Kayak lessons this summer. Too bad I will be in Afghanistan.

The coming of Groupons to the DC social scene has given rise to new etiquette questions. I have posted a few and my thinking below.

Dilemma #1: My friend and I have dinner plans, and we both have Groupons for different places that we want to use. Who wins?

Answer: I am inclined to say the person who's Groupon expires first. If you were clever enough to get one with an expiration a few months out (and are not going to Central Asia for six months in a few weeks as I am), then the person who is most broke and needing to rely on the prepaid groupon wins. However, if someone accepts your Groupon choice after a Groupon duel, you automatically incur an obligation to return the Groupon engagement in the very near future at the other Groupon location.

Dilemma #2: We both have Groupons for the same place, bought independently, and cannot combine them (many groupons are 'one-per-table'). What do we do?

Answer: Go somewhere else. Save your Groupon for another time. Alternatively, make separate reservations and bring two other people with you. Then 'run into' each other accidentally after appetizers are ordered and your Groupon intent is already declared to the waiter, and move together. Of course this is kind of an a-hole thing to do. And weird for the other two people. A move only for the truly desperate.

Dilemma #3: Can I use a Groupon on a date?

Answer: Yes. If your date can't appreciate your thriftiness, how do you think he will react to your many other embarrassing qualities? Mind you, I am typing this while laying around in a red onesie. I have many of those qualities. And I am not even that thrifty.

Dilemma #4: If we are splitting the check, and one of us has a Groupon, how do we divide up costs? Does the person contributing the Groupon get credit for the paid value, and we split the bonus savings, or do they get credit for the entire value of the Groupon?

Answer: This is a hard one. I have had dinner partners that assumed we were sharing, and ones that assumed I got the whole value for myself. Last night, I brought this up while dining at Policy with a friend. His take was that it was all mine. Of course, he is also a Groupon user, and I am sure it will come out even in the end (I now have an obligation to help him out with his Russia House Groupon- see #1). A German friend of mine assumed we were sharing my Groupon for Mie N Yu. Of course she is German. I have had Germans ask for $1.50 off the tab of a group of 30 because they didn't get a soda. I thus am less inclined to use her standard. So the answer? With Germans, you share, figuring out everyone's relative contribution down to the penny. With everyone else, its all yours, but make a good effort to return the consideration the next meal.

Dilemma #5: Why aren't there more Sushi Groupons?

Answer: As it is, I have trouble using groupons because every time I get myself together to go out and use a groupon, I wind up thinking that I would just rather have sushi. The sushi industry does not need Groupon's help- I am keeping it afloat in these hard times. If there were sushi groupons, I would need a speedy mercury poisoning antidote pretty quickly. Perhaps its for the best.