Smart Consumer: Deals on meals
Published 22/04/2010 | 05:00
We know when we're being fleeced and we won't take it any more. It took several years for the penny to really drop, but now it has we are turning into a nation of bargain hunters.
Waiting in the wings were people who reckoned they could pair our desire for good deals with the web.
They claim to offer us information on the best deals around, special offers only available on their site, discount vouchers, money-back offers and more.
It sounds great, but with so many of these sites up and running it can be pretty difficult to know where to start.
I decided to start with restaurants, and restaurant deals to be precise.
It is true that people are eating out less, and this means that as restaurant owners battle for customers, it is their deals that are the most common on many of the money-saving sites.
Cheapeats.ie is a classified site, so all the deals you see are paid ads. I learned that I could have two courses at Gotham in Dublin for €15 from 4.30pm on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays; in Gourmet Burger in Ranelagh I could buy one and get one free or in McHughs in Raheny I could get a free bottle of wine if I dine before 7pm on a Saturday.
Other sites that champion good living at a lower cost include feelingfrugal.ie and thesavvyshopper.ie. They both feature current restaurant deals in addition to offers relating to health, beauty and fashion.
On diningtreats.com you have to sign up as a member to avail of offers like a two-course early bird offer for €11.95 in Mexico to Rome in Dublin's Temple Bar.
The concept of special offers being uniquely available to members of a particular website is a common model on the internet, but you don't have to pay to sign-up.
Another subscription website with restaurant offers and deals is onoffer.ie.
If you fancy a free glass of beer with your steak at the Buenos Aires Grill or a two-course meal for two plus a bottle of wine for €50 at the Anglers Rest, these are among the offers you could choose from.
Whoseview.ie is a subscription site with a difference; the difference being that you can only get the special offers by spending 'points', something akin to the pigsback.com model.
You earn the points by doing a variety of things so you won't be able to avail of much if you're a passive user.
Signing up will earn you 200 points, posting a review will earn you 40 or entering a competition 25.
For 300 points you can get €5 off every €50 spent at the Seapoint Restaurant in Monkstown or for 2,000 points you could get the least expensive dish removed from your bill at Ely CHQ.
The majority of restaurant deals featured on these sites, or all in some cases, are Dublin based.
But people do eat out beyond the Pale, so it would be good to see restaurants nationwide promoting their deals here too.
Out and about
With all that eating, you'll want to get off the chair and do something, so can you get special deals and discounts for activities? Yes you can.
The membership model offering exclusive deals to its users is employed by dayout.ie, and this site does cover the whole country. Special offers include a 20pc family discount for Tralee's Aqua Dome and a 'four adults for the price of three' deal at the Clare Equestrian Centre.
Stickyfingerstravel.com styles itself the "travel guide for parents" and features sections on 'top tips for saving money' and 'saving recession busting family travel secrets'.
You can also download a discount pass that covers tourist attractions nationwide. You'll find offers including 20pc off entrance to Dunbrody Emigrant Ship and two-for-one offers at the Hunt Museum in Limerick and Strokestown Park in Roscommon.
Discount vouchers called 'cheques' can be downloaded from discoverireland.ie and are redeemable against offers on accommodation and attractions, golf and restaurants.
It's a no brainer but stickfingerstravel.com's site says "for some reason people feel a bit embarrassed to ask for a discount."
If you are embarrassed to ask for discounts at this stage, you really should get over it fast. If volcanic ash clouds and less money in your pocket means you are spending more time in Ireland, log on and get every discount you can, because there are plenty of them available.