/ Money, Shopping

Discount vouchers: deal or no deal?

Credit card on computer keyboard

There’s been a flurry of research hitting our inboxes lately, revealing how popular online discount vouchers have become. So why can’t they give you a better deal?

Whether it’s down to the recession, the popularity of the internet or bargain-hunting Britain, one thing’s for sure; we all love a discount voucher.

One survey claims they’re used by nine out of 10 adults; another says nearly three-quarters use them more now than they did a year ago. But using vouchers isn’t always a positive experience according to new site, Save.co.uk. Their research shows nearly six in 10 people have tried to use one, only to discover the link has expired or the code doesn’t work.

Discount sites are offering dodgy deals

So nothing has moved on since we researched this topic in February last year. When we trawled several of the big sites it became clear that many vouchers were out of date or included ridiculous caveats in the terms and conditions, making them virtually unusable. And with a bit more digging, we even discovered better savings without vouchers elsewhere.

I spent some time scanning voucher sites this morning – the deals on show summed up the whole thing for me. One boasted a ‘half price sale at Debenhams’, just a blatant advert for their ongoing sale. Another claimed 20% off Habitat, but it was only 10% when I clicked through. What a let down.

So how can you get the best bargain when it comes to vouchers?

Sadly there’s no simple answer. It involves shopping around for better prices on price comparison sites and the brand’s main site, as well as paying attention to the voucher’s small print. Dull, but essential if you want to bag a bargain.

These sites need to work much harder to make their vouchers and codes easier to use. Admittedly, new sites are popping up and claiming to address these problems; some are now issuing codes without asking you to fill out any personal information. But with so many of us using vouchers, they’ve got to start offering better value to online shoppers. After all, the internet is constantly updated so why can’t discount sites do the same?

AmusedofAmersham says:
30 June 2010

Even when voucher sites are legitimate – do you really need everything they encourage you to buy? And restaurants – the number of times I’ve eaten half-price, bland chain food with friends because we’ve thought we were getting a great deal. There are many affordable great restaurants out there, you just have to make an effort to find them – and even pricey ones are often better value, as you leave full up and avoiding chocolate on the way home!