Group Buying Sites: How To Be Safe and Avoid Scams

Posted by Fitz Villafuerte under Money Saving Tips, Personal Finance on February 5, 2011

Group buying sites have existed in other countries for quite some time now but it’s only recently that the business model started to grow and get attention in the Philippines, particularly in Metro Manila.

In fact, my list of Philippine Group Buying Sites has grown from twelve to twenty-four websites in just a few weeks.

That’s why it’s now important to be cautious and critical of which deals you avail.

And to help you stay safe and secure, here are some tips and advise on how you can avoid getting scammed by fake group buying sites.


There should be no cost to become a member.
Group buying websites earn from their business partners and not directly from the consumers. Avoid sites which ask for a membership fee.

Do your due diligence.
Before signing up for a site, ask your friends and social networks for feedback about the site. Check their business address and see if that place actually exists. Moreover, take some time to read and understand their FAQ Page, Site Terms, Privacy Policies and others.

Investigate on Facebook
“Hang out” on their Facebook Page and check out the profiles of the people who regularly leave comments. Note that some of these businesses use “fake profiles” to boost their image, so make sure that those recommendations are coming from actual people. If they’re not on Facebook, then just do the next step.

Test their customer service
Go to their website and call their contact numbers, follow their Twitter accounts or send an email and ask questions like how group buying works, their payment options, refunds and others. Be an “innocent” consumer and see if they are polite, helpful and timely with their responses. They may be operating legally, but you don’t want to deal with poor customer service.

Check if the group buying site has been VERIFIED by me (for Pinoys only).
In my list of group buying websites, I’ve included a status on each of the sites telling you if it’s been personally verified and is currently active. There’s also an ongoing poll where you’ll see which group buying sites are the favorites of my readers here. ๐Ÿ˜€


The site should not ask for any financial details when registering.
You only enter billing information or payment terms when you actually bought something. If you need to give your credit card number or bank details when signing up. Click “Cancel” and leave.

Before buying a deal, check the business first.
When you see a deal that you like, call the business first and ask if they really have a partnership with the group buying website. Ask for the specific details of the coupon so you know exactly what you’re buying. Buy deals only from businesses that you actually know or you might end up using that P100 buffet coupon in a carinderia.

When buying something, choose your payment option wisely.
I personally recommend Paypal if it’s available because it’s secure and has a refund option. While it can be inconvenient, bank deposits, using money transfer facilities and electronic payments such as GCash and Smart Money are also considered safe because there’s no risk of getting charged extraneously unlike in credit cards.

But if you’re paying through your credit card…
Then use your virtual credit card intended for internet shopping (because it can’t be used to buy anything offline) and then inform your credit card company about the purchase. Tell them to allow the purchase amount from the merchant and nothing else to be really safe or give them a list of the deals you’re expecting.

Note all the details of the deal you just bought.
Make sure you keep all the details of the transaction, specially the due dates, what to do and bring when claiming your coupon, the validity dates of the deal and other important terms in the purchase agreement.

Last TIP:
Group buying sites are a great way to save money on “luxuries”. So it’s important that you always have a clear view of your personal finances. If you’re on a tight personal budget, then you should just prioritize your necessities.

Did I miss anything here? Do you have any additional tip you want to share? Please leave them in the comments section below and if it’s really something useful, I’ll edit this post, include it in the list and give you credit for it! ๐Ÿ˜€

If you found this article informative and useful, then I hope you can share this on Facebook and Twitter by using the social media buttons below.

And lastly, if you want to receive FREE money saving tips, personal finance articles and investment advice, then all you have to do is to subscribe to Ready To Be Rich. Thanks!


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20 Responses to “Group Buying Sites: How To Be Safe and Avoid Scams”

  1. CuponzAdmin says:

    Thank you very much for this post. We also recommend Paypal so that buyers can feel more secured.

    More power to your blog.
    Thank you


  2. […] Update 3 – Explanation of statuses: Please note that even if a site is tagged as verified, it’s still good practice to double check the deals with the merchants and follow the other group buying safety tips given here. […]

  3. Kristel says:

    Hi Fitz, can’t wait to share this online. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the info.

  4. dlysen says:

    Its good to check first before you engage. Every tips here is a must to do to make sure that you’re transaction will be safe. I use paypal to authorized my credit debt card transactions. I feel more safer using paypal services.

  5. Marc says:

    Hi Fitz,

    Would it be possible for my site to have its twitter feed connected to the one above? I can send you the name. Please send me an email (to the one I provided) if that is possible. Thanks!

  6. miss_saigon says:

    Hi Fitz,

    groupon has been helpful for me personally. Normally we have do a carefully planned vacation at least once a year. And getting deals from groupon for places we want to go is a big help financially. Like when we went to Cebu, we took advantage of the Buyanihan promo for Don Mertos.

    A friend of my plans to go to cebu also and experience the sky ride. The promo in one of the groupon with regards to crown regency in cebu was a big help.

    it also helps in gift-giving. i have friends who loves spa and pedis. deals with regards to that has been very helpful.

    i think groupon or deals as such are helpful for activities or items that you do intend to buy in the future even without the deal. availing of the deals make it more affordable.

    groupon deals are good deals only if you do intend to buy it even with the deal/promo.

  7. CleverBuy Admin says:

    Hi Fitz,

    Thank you for including us in your list of buying sites in the Philippines knowing that we will only be launching soon. You have a great post, it really help our consumers understand what is group buying sites all about. Your post is very informative. We hope that you will include us, our Twitter account in your stream.

    More power to your blog!

    CleverBuy Team

  8. Fitz says:

    @CleverBuy admin, your twitter account is already included in the stream. ๐Ÿ˜€

  9. CleverBuy says:

    Hi Fitz,

    Thank you so much! Based on the tool we are using to track the source of visits in our site, we have found out that above 10% are coming from your site / blog page. Let me take this opportunity to say thank you. More power!

    CleverBuy Admin

  10. Fitz says:

    Thanks CleverBuy Admin ๐Ÿ˜€

  11. Xandra says:

    Hi, I have a question, since these sites offer a sales discount on a particular product or service for a limited period of time, would the groupon sites be considered as engaging in sales promotion, and as such, do you think it would fall under the permit requirement of the DTI? Or since they are only acting as a form of “agent” on behalf of the participating merchants, is it the merchants who should procure the necessary sale/promo permit? I was just wondering if the sales in these sites are within the area of the DTI’s regulation in this regard. Thanks.

  12. 500PesoDeals says:

    This article is very helpful for both consumers and group buying sites likes us.

    We’ll keep these guidelines in mind at as we gear towards our official launch this May 13.

    We hope to see you there!

    Our Twitter account is

    Keep up the excellent work,

  13. DealDozen says:

    Hi Fitz,

    Please add our twitter account to your feed. It is Thank you!

  14. g says:

    Is there a transaction fee if i paid the coupon through paypal?

  15. luis says:

    yeah gotta be extra careful. anyway, saw this new group buying site; simple lang, mukhang ok naman ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. alexander gutierrez says:

    we are a soon to be launch group buying site with a facebook account
    funtastk deals and our website is

  17. Kristina says:

    Hi Fitz!

    It is also very important that you choose group buying sites who are more picky in the companies that they sponsor so as to protect their loyal customers. It is really essential to call the companies before buying the coupon and check out their customer service and if possible choose companies who have a good standing reputation in the business. For example, just last week we went to Tarlac to do the Pinatubo Experience by Trekpros. We purchased the coupon for 999 at Ensogo. Before we bought the coupons we checked out the company at that time there were no bad reviews. We got the deal (a total of 9 coupons) 3 months prior and followed everything that the coupon says like putting in reservations, doing follow ups and etc. however to our surprise when we got there our reservations were not placed in the list and that they will not accommodate us. Trekpros just told us to come back another day and this was after we told them that we came all the way from Cebu and our flights will be on the next day already! They had bad customer service and showed no initiative whatsoever. We even offered to call their main office and talk to the supervisor but nobody answered our calls.I just want to post here so that people will know that its not all safe and sound in the group buying world. Hopefully my tips will be helpful especially to those who particularly like to buy travel coupons ๐Ÿ˜€

  18. emily says:

    IF anything goes wrong, do not expect them to answer any of your numerous emails. also number posted on their site is no longer valid.
    so you will just be wasting your money!!!

  19. Lyn says:

    Hi All!

    I’ve bought a deal last year from CashCashPinoy for the Residencia de Riego discount voucher. There hasn’t been any hassle and we were able to get what was on the deal, the only thing they forgot to mention is that there will be a corkage for liquor/alcoholic beverages, beacause when I checked the resorts facebook page, it said that there is no corkage for these items. But aside from that, we’ve been really happy for what we got from the CashCashPinoy deal.

    The other deal I bought was from Metrodeal, it is for the 490 peso-chicken and paella rice with coke in Barrio Fiesta, we also haven’t encountered any problems in redeeming this deal.

    What I was glad about these deals is the fact that we were able to redeem them without having to pay any extra and we only brought the printed confirmation of the deals.

    So far, these are the two group-buying sites I recommend since I got a first-hand satisfactory experience from them. I’m sharing this info so that others could possibly benefit from them.

    By the way, I’ve paid for these vouchers using G-cash.

  20. Hi there, I’ve come to visit your website often and we do appreciate, that you included on your list of the known group buying sites right now. I would like to request if you could also add our Twitter account to the daily updates on twitter that included on your website. Thank you and more power!

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