Group deals are always popping into my life. My mom gives me printouts 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 a deal for a half-price cruise on the Canal Saint-Martin.
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: 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. 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.
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.)
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