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Groupon, Gottahalfit, Living Social, ad nauseum

I am certain you have encountered this new marketing opportunity. You respond to an email offer to buy a coupon for +/- a 50% discount on everything from restaurants, oil changes, flowers, face peels and cupcakes, to tarot card readings, boudoir photography and doggie day care. There are bargains to be had if you use them. I get $15 oil changes where they rotate my tires, top of the fluids and give my car an exterior wash. Pretty economical, if you ask me. My wife and I enjoy going out to dinner and we use them as an excuse to visit restaurants we have wanted to try as well as favorites where we save a few bucks.

However, not all offers are created equal. All too often corporate America has dumbed us down to the point where we expect less. Let me use last night as an example. There is a rather pricey restaurant in our new neighborhood that had caught our interest. I’m not going to mention any names, but they have a reputation, and I’m not sure if it’s their marketing department or bona fide customer reviews, for great food, atmosphere, even celebrity sightings.

The Mrs. and I were seated in the dining room and the first thing we noticed was four televisions tuned to sports. I’m a sports fan but that is not what I expected in the dining room where they serve $60.00 steaks. Strike one.

Next, the waiter arrived, welcomed us, took our drink order and disappeared for a significantly longer period of time that I thought necessary for a restaurant that was a third full, at best. When he returned with the drinks, he described the evening’s specials and said he would return shortly for our orders. Again, he was MIA for an inordinate amount of time. Strike two.

Upon his return, we ordered and that’s when the wait really started. I understand that proper preparation takes time and if you want excellence, patience is part of the package. Still, enough can be too much and when the entrees finally arrived, patience was wearing thin. Another round of drinks was ordered and we prepared to enjoy what we expected to be an extraordinary meal. In all honesty, my Saltimbocca was very good. I give them a pass on that. The $50.00 shrimp dish, ordered by the Mrs., however, was tasteless, bland, and would not have been acceptable for a fraction of the cost. So with the pass given because my meal was pretty tasty, we’re at one ball, two strikes, and as I finish my dish and the wife is pushing hers away, the drinks arrive. Strike three.

Check please. When the tally was complete, after deducting the Groupon which had a face value of $55.00, and tipping on the full price of the meal, whether he was a good server or not, it still cost $90.00 for a so – so experience.

Some days you’re the bird and some days you’re the windshield. This experience did not pan out. Still, I am sure I will purchase other on-line discount offers. I never know when my doggie is going to need day care.

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