[Editor’s Note: this is the first in a series of articles on resources that are not typically used for genealogy and family history. Enjoy our new “Out of the Box” series!]
I’m always looking for both new ways to save money on genealogy and family history as well as new resources for my own research. I’ll admit it isn’t always easy to step outside of my comfort zone, but that’s often the only way to discover new things. My recent find: Groupon, the crowd-sourced money savings site for both online and brick-and-mortar shopping.
Up until recently I was never a Groupon customer or a big fan; I figured that they only focused on local bargains (spas, restaurants) etc. and many friends had said that the offers were very “limiting” in terms of availability, etc. But many of you know that as a genealogist, I try to do a thorough investigation so I can make an “informed” decision. Here’s what I’ve determined . . .
Going In – My Anti-Groupon Bias
I’ve known about Groupon since they started in 2008 and I believed the premise was a great one, especially for small businesses and startups: offer a steep discount to get consumers to try your product and build a loyal following. For this to succeed, the marketing has to work from a point of “scarcity,” meaning (1) there is a limited number of coupons, (2) there must be a high demand for a deal, and (3) it should sell out quickly. Doing so makes the person who “missed the deal” remember that product and either they will wait for the next Groupon offering or, hopefully, just go directly to the vendor’s site to purchase the product or service.
Such a concept is great as long as there is follow through on the part of the vendor. Most of my friends and colleagues had different stories about their Groupon experience, ranging from amazing deals to horrible customer service experiences to classic “bait and switch” scams. There have also been blog posts and press articles about startups underestimating the demand for their product via Groupon and not following through on the advertised offer.
My main concern as a Groupon affiliate was this: are the vendors and their respective offers on Groupon legitimate? I believe in total transparency with my “tribe” and I don’t push products and services that I feel have no benefit to the genealogy community.
The Pro-Groupon Argument
Any new online concept will eventually come under scrutiny and either survive or be abandoned by consumers. Groupon has been around since 2008 and shows no signs of slowing down in terms of saving money for shoppers. In fact, so far Groupon has saved consumers over $20 billion (USD)! And one thing I didn’t realize was that most Groupon merchants are small businesses with 20 employees or less.
As for the “scam” or “it’s too good to be true” aspect, Groupon has a community of users that report bad deals and scams. In addition, Groupon has been good about refunding money once these “abusers” are identified.
As far as Genealogy Bargains, and its sister site DNA Bargains, are concerned, Groupon DOES pass my litmus test in terms of legitimacy and being a good resource for genealogy and family history consumers. Still, you need to look at each offer and each vendor closely, especially those that are brand new to Groupon. Do your research, understand the terms of the deal, and then make sure you provide feedback to Groupon and the Groupon community if the deal doesn’t not meet with your satisfaction.
Genealogy Bargains Abound on Groupon
Some amazing genealogy and family history deals are available on Groupon, But you have to know where to find them! My experience has shown that you can’t just use the search terms “genealogy” or “family history” to locate deals and goods. Here are some of the more popular searches, some shopping strategies, as well as specific vendors and deals:
Groupon Products for Genealogy
- Family Tree DNA: there is generally a standing offer on the Family Finder DNA test kit from Family Tree DNA. The basic price on the FTDNA website is $89, but I’ve seen a Groupon offer as low as $59. Click HERE for the latest Family Tree DNA offer on Groupon.
- Legacy Box: the basic Legacy Box is $75 on the vendor’s website, but you will often see this item as low as $23 on Groupon. Check the other Legacy Box offers since they allow you to mail in more items to scan and offer a better savings. Click HERE for the latest Legacy Box offer on Groupon.
- Picture Keeper: for those who want to make sure they preserve all their digital photos properly, Photo Keeper is an amazing item! Example: You can order the 16GB flash drive and software to preserve all your digital images for as low as $89.99; but with the Groupon offer, you can get a $100 gift card for $50. This reduces the $119 vendor site price to just $69.99. Click HERE for the latest Picture Keeper offer on Groupon.
Groupon Searches for Genealogy
- Photo Books: There are many vendors for photo books – a product created when you upload your digital images and organize into a book using the vendor template. One of the top selling vendors is Snapfish (see https://www.genealogybargains.com/grouponsnapfish) offering 67% off one 20-page 8.5 x `11” hardcover photo book (reduced from $29.99 to $9.99. Click HERE to search Photo Books on Groupon.
- Family Tree: The term “family tree” will include many different items on Groupon including personalized canvas prints, family name prints, jewelry, and more. Click HERE to search Family Tree on Groupon.
Groupon Strategies for Genealogy
- Don’t be surprised if when you click an offer link, that the lowest price version is either sold out OR may be hidden on an additional page. I see this often on the Legacy Box product above.
- Use search terms “genealogy,” “family history,” “family reunion,” “family tree,” and similar terms.
- Make sure you determine any “hidden costs” such as tax and shipping; compare to Amazon Prime offers which will often have free 2-day shipping on the same item.
- Remember to search for specific items you already use in your research such as binders, file folders, scanners, printers, etc.
Closing Thoughts on Groupon
With some proper research, I was able to step “out of the box” and abandon my bias against Groupon as a useful resource for genealogy and family history shopping. My best advice: 1) do your homework on vendors and offers by reading the terms; 2) check out new vendors to make sure they are legitimate; and 3) check back often since prices do change frequently.
PLEASE NOTE: The post content above contains affiliate links. This means I make a percentage of sales via these links. This does not INCREASE the price you pay as a consumer. It simply supplements my income so I can continue providing as much free genealogy content as possible through my “abundance model.”
Groupon is a registered trademark of Groupon, Inc. and copyrighted material used with permission. All other use is prohibited.
Disclosure statement: I have material connections with various vendors and organizations. To review the material connections I have in the genealogy industry, please see Disclosure Statement.
Content and Images: All product content including images have been used by permission from the vendor.
©2017, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved