3 Rules for Buying From "The Flash Sale Mob"

We're here to offer a cautionary tale of what happens when you violate the basic rules of buying from what we call "The Flash Sale Mob."
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We're here to offer a cautionary tale of what happens when you violate the basic rules of buying from what we call "The Flash Sale Mob."

In order to write about and report on sites like Gilt Groupe and Groupon, we need to cruise them and it's tricky-hard to mind your dollars and sense while spending hours immersed in checking out seductive goodies. Inevitably, this leads to the 'oy, what was I thinking' brand of buyer's remorse. While we have an excuse -- hey, it's an occupational hazard -- we're sharing our rules (and transgressions) so you don't get into hurry-hurry-click-and-buy-it trouble.

Rule #1

Buy only things you are already in the market for and can return.

Rule #2

Buy a service only if you have tried it (or at least had a trusted friend tell you it is a must-do).

Rule #3

Read the fine print.

Violation of Rule #1: Non-returnable Item

A set of new placemats and napkins. Some people have shoe obsessions, others handbags, still others naughty lingerie. Us? Nothing so sexy. We're suckers for anything that has to do with setting the table. (No one should be surprised -- there's food involved in this equation.) Anyway, we saw a handsome set of grey placemats from a reputable French linen maker. We're having a fancy wine dinner and thought, hm, since we're saving a bundle by having everyone else bring fantastic wines in exchange for our cooking -- why not put it into great linen? (Yes, we think in twisted ways sometimes.) Perhaps it was punishment, because when we opened the package we were disappointed in the quality of the placemats. They were thinner and lighter than the goods this maker normally manufactures.

Violation of Rule #2: Un-vetted Service Provider

Of course we're savvy enough to not bite on the massage being offered by Dan's Teeth Whitening, Botox, Spa and Grooming Salon. You know the one stop fill'er up, bleach 'em and wash the dog place that is in a town you passed once on the highway. But, when we saw a deal for 60% off a massage at a place that was just a block away, we clicked. (Hey, we're stressed out, the deadline for our new manuscript is weeks away.) Well, we didn't get past taking our shoes off before we decided there were better ways to get bedbugs or be seen on a live stream Girls Girls Girls video in some creeps basement. Awkwardly, we made some excuse about a forgotten pot of soup and a lit burner and fled.

Violation of Rule #3: Didn't Read the Fine Print

This one was really a good deal, honest, half-price tickets to Darko Tresnjak's Merchant of Venice. The only problem is we neglected to read the fine print. Unlike, most online tickets that you buy and print out, this one required us to print the voucher and take it to the box office days ahead of the scheduled performance to redeem it for real tickets. Totally our fault. We ended up scrambling on the day of the performance to redeem the voucher and got the worst seats in the house. Great play. Lousy seats. Impossible acoustics.

The moral of the story? Follow the rules.

Read more from Rosalyn Hoffman at Bitches on a Budget.

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