Its the next big thing in town. Everyone is talking about the big discount websites where everything appears to be flying off the virtual shelves.
I have subscribed to a few of these sites Souq, Gonabit, Groupon, Cobone etc but I must confess I am yet to make a purchase till date. Nonetheless what freaks me out are a few recent offers that I received which appear to be absolute cons. At least that is the way they appear given that these are supposed to be 'offers' and not regular purchases form any online shop. So what exactly is the value proposition that these sites bring to the table.
Here are screen shots of a few that I received in my mailbox.
To any other person, these may appear like fantastic deals. But not to me!!! The new Blackberry 9860 at AED 1,999/-??????????? The model has been selling at AED 1,999/- at most well known retailers since the day this product was launched. Souq.com in fact shows the old price at AED 2,700/- and the deal price at AED 2,049/-. So made a few calls to some of my friends at Axiom Telecom only to confirm that the product was available at Axiom Telecom on the same day at AED 1,999/-!
So are our online deal sites in fact misleading the public? Are these really deals or an attempt to cheat the gullible customer? So what exactly is the reference point to benchmark the 'old' price? Is this the price at some odd retail outlet in some corner of Deira or is this the lowest/highest price at an established retailer? Or should this be the recommended retail price set by the manufacturer?
I am not sure if the onus lies with the respective online site? Or should this be the responsibility of the respective seller who uses the services of sites like Souq, Cobone or Groupon? Ultimately and irrespective of the legal interpretation, should the online sites be accountable for the offers being made by a third party? In the case of the offer shown above, it appears that the offer on Souq.com itself is made by a seller named Daily Deals and may not be a promise from Souq.
I am yet to take advantage of any of the online deals so far and based on this case, I may be one of the many who will remain suspicious of the deals that pop into the mailbox.