Here are EIGHT BAD DEAL RULES. Keep these in mind next time you’re contemplating a lousy offer from Groupon, Gilt City, Daily Candy, Thrillist, UrbanDaddy or elsewhere.
- If you financially need a deal to eat out, you shouldn’t eat out. This isn’t cutting coupons so your family can afford milk. This is leisure. These are luxuries you save up for. Tiny Tim ain’t die from leprosy if you don’t get that Groupon coupon for Patron Silver bottle service. Remember that next time you think you need to “save money” by purchasing a deal.
- Most good restaurants don’t need social deals, they already have the right menu prices. If their prices are off, they adjust them according to supply and demand. That brings us to the next rule:
- If you’re using deal websites to dictate your culinary life and nightlife, you probably don’t have a great culinary life or nightlife. This isn’t the cream of the crop. It’s often the cream of the crap.
- Cash is fungible. You can use it anywhere. And barring the apocalypse, the U.S. dollar never expires. Uncle Sam is good like that. But a restaurant deal is not fungible; rather, it’s nonrefundable and you can only use it at one restaurant. Oh, and the deal always expires. That kinda stinks.
- Deals don’t help you save money. They help you spend money. Deal sites often lock you into a set tasting of food or wine in restaurants that are otherwise a la carte. So yes, maybe you’re saving 35% by ordering a tasting of eight margaritas, but do really want eight margaritas? So the deal “savings” notwithstanding, you’ve now spent more money than you really wanted to. Sneaky, sneaky.
- Lower prices don’t make bad food taste good. So don’t let any 60% discount cure your ambivalence about visiting a restaurant, because that discount won’t cure the chef’s inability to cook. Let critics or friends help you out. If you didn’t want to eat at the restaurant before the deal, it’s not really a deal. It’s a waste.
- Don’t pay for a deal in advance unless you know what you’ll be eating or drinking. Deal sites often advertise tasting menus with wine pairings but offer few specifics. Here’s a solution: skip the deal, go to the restaurant, look at the menu, order what you want, and (wait for it…) pay AFTER you finish eating, like at most other civilized establishments.
- Be suspicious of any advice from social deal sites, which may have a financial interest in getting you to buy their deals. Make no mistake, when Deal Site editors tell you why they “Love this place,” that might not be any more objective than an infomercial telling you how great an automatic egg cracker is. Better to read reviews from Bloomberg, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Time Out or the Village Voice. P.S. Crack your own eggs.
There will be more BAD DEAL RULES but these will suffice for now. Don’t like our attitude? Well that’s why we call ourselves The Bad Deal. It ain’t gonna get good, that’s for darn sure.