Daily deals looking dead and buried

Published: Sunday, September 23, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 6:56 p.m.

Date night is just not the same without them. You know, those cyber golden tickets that we have affectionately dubbed groupons with a lowercase "g."

It seems over the last year they've gone from hero to zero. Unless of course surprising little miss thing with "his and hers hydro colon therapy sessions" is how you envision a romantic night out.

Sadly, LivingSocial, Groupon and the gazillion other daily deals just don't seem to be bringing the "hot sauce" anymore.

Someday, tightwads like me will gather the "grandyoungins" around the virtual campfire and talk about how "back in our day" we could enjoy gourmet fare for drive-thru prices and get our cars detailed for the price of a bar of soap.

Will I ever again get to see the look when "Flo's" face turn to rage after she brings the dinner check and I start digging for the wadded up printout in my back pocket? Priceless!

Perhaps that is the rub; Flo and the owner all end up losing money on the deal. Likewise, they all seem to show the same excitement as the all-you-can-eat buffet manager when the Honey Boo Boo clan shows up for a long night at the trough.

The good deals ceased because the owners figured out they were a bad deal.

The web is full of "don't do it" testimonials, and analysts have used the term "loan sharks" in explaining the business model. Truth is, most owners walk away with about $5 for what would normally retail for $20. This explains why we rarely see deals for movies, bowling or popular restaurants anymore.

What daily deal shopper wants "corn removal" when they are accustomed to "corn-fed steaks." I am hardly teased by Living Social's "$10 for $40 off Herbal Remedies" or the "$29 Guided Manatee Snorkeling Tour."

Over on Groupon, we have the option of yet another photo book, dental exam or, for you big spenders, a one-night stay at a hotel near the Jacksonville Airport. Quick, where is my debit card?

It all made sense this week when I saw Groupon announce they are getting into the device business with a new smartphone payment cube similar to the popular Square.

Is this business evolution or desperation? Seems odd, kind of like Blackberry getting into the pizza delivery business. Still, you add up all the pieces and it foretells the looming death of daily deals.

For you diehards, there might be some occasional opportunities that are worthy of your printer's ink. In the long run it seems like another Internet bubble of something too-good-to-be-true is about to pop.

Unless of course you have unconventional tastes in where you go with your sweetie.

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