Online group buying

Group buying websites promote featured retailer products or services at discount prices. This allows consumers to get good deals with retailers, which, in turn, may attract new customers.

Most group buying deals need a minimum number of people to buy into it in order to activate a sale. Even after someone buys the deal, the transaction will not be completed until the retailer meets a targeted number of deals sold. 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.

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

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Things to consider in online group buying

Before you participate in group buying or snagging a 'deal of the day':

  • 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.
  • Make sure to read the terms and conditions in the offer—including the fine print—before purchasing any product or service. Look out for restrictions for returning customers, since many deals are only valid for first-time customers.
  • Find out where you can redeem your chosen deal. They usually apply to one location or region. At other times, they're only available via online stores.
  • Ensure you are able to get a refund if a retailer tries to cancel or change a group buying deal without notice.
  • Find out if there's an expiration date attached to a deal.
  • Check if you must pay extra fees when claiming your deal.
  • Find out what method(s) of payment are accepted.
  • Be aware that taxes may not be included in the price of the deal. If not, you will have to pay taxes on the product or service when you claim the deal.
  • If the item comes with a warranty, make sure you understand what is covered and who is responsible for repairs and replacements.
  • Group buying websites may include charitable donations as part of their deals. Make sure you're aware of how your money is donated.

When you purchase a group buy deal, always 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 have a few options to get your money back.

  • You may speak to the retailer to explain the situation and ask if they for a refund.
  • You may 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 certain amount of time or if the retailer has made it impossible to redeem the deal.
  • You may also make a complaint through provincial or territorial consumer protection agencies.

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.