Online group buying

Group buying websites promote featured retailer products or services at discount prices. This allows consumers to get better deals with retailers, and may also attract new customers.

Consumers can usually sign up for regular email alerts offering daily or weekly deals.

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Things to consider in online group buying

Before you participate in group buying, consider these important factors:

  • Make sure that you are buying from a reputable website. Read the website reviews to ensure its reliability. Remember, when you buy a voucher, you are interacting with the group deal website, not the retailer.
  • Read the terms and conditions of the offer—including the fine print—before purchasing any product or service. Look for restrictions that exclude returning customers, since many deals are only valid for first-time customers.
  • Most group buying deals need a minimum number of people to buy into it in order to activate a sale. Until the targeted number of buyers is reached, the transaction will not be completed. Once the seller meets the set number of sold deals, the transaction is completed and the consumer can download or print out vouchers or coupons to claim the discount.
  • Find out where you can redeem your chosen deal. It will either apply to a specified location or region or might only be available to redeem online.
  • Check that you will be able to get a refund if a retailer tries to cancel or change a group buying deal without notice, unless this condition is laid out in the deal’s terms and conditions it important not to assume that you will be able to get your money back in the original form of payment.
  • Find out if the deal has an expiration date.
  • Check if you must pay extra fees when claiming your deal, this could include taxes or related service fees.
  • Find out what method(s) of payment are accepted.
  • If the item comes with a warranty, make sure you understand what is covered and who is responsible for repairs and replacements.
  • Take the time you need to think your purchase through before buying. Group buying websites can sometimes encourage the impulse purchase of products and services you might not need.

Tip: When you buy a group deal, remember to save or print a copy of the original offer. You may need that information if something goes wrong later and you need to make a complaint.

Options to resolve online group buying offer issues

If you don't get what you paid for when participating in group buying, you may have a few options to get your money back.

  • Speak to the retailer to explain the situation and ask if they for a refund.
  • Go directly to the group buying website. Many of these websites have policies to repay you if the deal has not been used within a specified period of time or if the retailer has made it difficult to redeem the deal.
  • Make a complaint through your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office.

For tips on how to make a consumer complaint, consult The Complaint Roadmap.

Trusted consumer information

Published by the Consumer Measures Committee, a working group of federal, provincial and territorial governments, that helps educate and inform Canadian consumers.