Group deals are always popping into my life. My mom gives me print-outs of Groupon deals for Christmas each year without fail (she puts the coupons in boxes and wraps them). And when I’m not opening Groupons from “Santa,” I see group deals shared aplenty in my Facebook feed, or forwarded to my inbox from friends, family and, well, people I barely know.
I’m heading to Paris for vacation this week. So I caved to social pressure and checked out the Groupon Paris page to see if any boulangerie bargains or cut-rate city tours could be found. I stumbled upon this deal, a half-price cruise on the Canal Saint-Martin:
Not bad. This Groupon offered a scenic canal cruise, which normally would have cost 18 euros, for just 9 euros per person. But there was one problem: You may have noticed that the Groupon was published in French. I desperately combed this page for a mini American or British flag and found nothing. The solution, I found, was to copy and paste all text into Google Translate (http://translate.google.com/). Or learn to speak fluent French.
Now, this was where things got tricky. The booking process was in French as well. And the bit where I had to enter my address didn’t give the option to specify a country. Here’s what it looked like:
I tried to type in my U.S. address along with my credit card information, but my order was rejected; I assume this happened because the system, by default, deemed that I live in France. I took a second stab at the purchase, but paid with PayPal instead of a credit card. It worked, probably because PayPal already has my home address in its system. I paid $25.29 for two cruise tickets; this was the final price according to PayPal’s exchange rate, which was a slightly more expensive conversion rate than the current interbank rate as seen on XE.com ($24.55).
It’s clear that Groupon’s international pages are designed for local customers. Still, with a PayPal account and a little translation, it’s possible to grab some good discounts in faraway destinations. The same goes for Living Social, which, like Groupon, has a wide selection of international deals that are published in local languages. Given that these sites often run promotions for restaurants, excursions, transportation and other goodies that would be useful during a trip, it’s worth signing up to receive local deals e-mails for the destination you’re visiting next. (Other group deals sites, including BuyWithMe, dealfind and DealOn, offer lots of bargains across the U.S. but have a limited international reach.)
Have you used a local group deal site when traveling?
— written by Caroline Costello