I’m continuing my series on deal of the day websites today with LivingSocial.
If Groupon – a company I outlined in my first article in this series – is the granddaddy of the daily deal website industry, then LivingSocial is the great uncle. LivingSocial can trace its roots back to 2007, when, under the name Hungry Machine, the company released the Visual Bookshelf and Pick Your Five apps for Facebook. Over the next two years, the company continued to connect online and offline businesses and customers, resulting in the debut of what we now know as LivingSocial in early 2009 – just months after Groupon’s November 2008 founding.
Today, LivingSocial – which, like the federal government, is based in Washington, DC – employs more than 4,900 workers worldwide. The company offers deals in 647 markets across six continents – sorry, Antarctica, you’re out of luck.
As the company’s name implies, LivingSocial focuses on giving its customers experiences that allow them to get out and enjoy their community. You’ll find fewer options for in-home maid services and discounted childcare on this site. Instead, you’ll find a plethora of ways to get out and explore the world around you. LivingSocial makes it easy for customers by dividing its site up into six sections:
- Daily deals – this section is the traditional “deal of the day” portion of the site, specializing in flash sales
- Escapes – everything from staying at the chic bed and breakfast in the town next door to traveling around the globe
- Families – this section offers ways for families to connect
- Adventures – want to step outside your comfort zone and try something new, different, and unique? This is the section for you
- Takeout & Delivery – I think the title speaks for itself
- Gourmet – offers high-end culinary experiences to members
LivingSocial’s Customer Service
LivingSocial’s refund policy isn’t as user-friendly as the one offered by its chief rival on the daily deal biz, Groupon. Once you’ve purchased your voucher from LivingSocial, you have only five days to request a refund on an unused deal; by comparison, Groupon gives you a seven-day grace period. However, LivingSocial will refund the full purchase price on any deal you are unable to redeem because the providing retailer went out of business. They also handle other refund requests on a case to case basis through their consumer advocates.
LivingSocial offers you two ways to earn more by referring your friends to the site. The first way is the Me+3 promotion. To take advantage of this promotion, you have to first buy your voucher; then, you share it with your friends via links on Facebook, Twitter, or simple email. If three of your friends click on the link and buy the same voucher, you’ll get yours for free – this promotion is available with most vouchers.
The other LivingSocial referral program involves something called Deal Bucks. Start by sending an invitation email to your friends. LivingSocial credits you with five Deal Bucks for every successful invite. You can earn Deal Bucks other ways, such as purchasing them or receiving them as a gift. Redeem the Deal Bucks to get an even bigger discount on your must-have vouchers. Not all Deal Bucks are created equal, though; some expire after a few weeks – such as the ones credited through the invitation/referral program- while others are good for five years or more.
My LivingSocial Experience
I’ve made two purchases through LivingSocial since signing up for an account in June 2011:
- $25 for 18 holes of golf (cart included) plus lunch at a local country club (retail: $54)
- $229 for two nights at a Washington, DC hotel, including parking and breakfast for two every morning (retail: $399)
I’ve made both purchases within the past two months, and have yet to redeem either, although I have booked the reservation for the hotel voucher.
My LivingSocial Advice
I’ve had far less experience shopping with LivingSocial than I have with Groupon. I think this due to the main difference between LivingSocial and Groupon: while Groupon strives to provide me with products and services I actually need, LivingSocial focuses more on giving me experiences that I simply want. Because of that, the LivingSocial deals seem to be a little more frivolous – and definitely more likely to be nixed from my budget.
LivingSocial vouchers are something I’d want as a birthday or Christmas gift – something I ordinarily wouldn’t buy for myself, but would love to receive.
Reader, have you used LivingSocial before? What did you purchase? Did you think it was a good deal?