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it's only a bargain if you wanted or needed it in the first place

I'm done with buying discount vouchers. They cause far too much stress.

I went mad there for a little while buying vouchers for hotels, restaurants, facials and shellacs because they all seemed like such great bargains. But really they weren't. I don't need to drive all the way across the city to get my nails done just because it's half price. By the time I've paid for petrol and parking, it never seems like much of a bargain anyway. I'd rather go somewhere local to be honest.

I recently went to a restaurant with my son, Gary. I had a discount voucher for it and I was looking forward to a nice evening. However we were pretty much greeted with disdain at the door when we presented the voucher, and were then treated for the rest of the evening as though we weren't really real customers, and they were doing us some sort of favour by allowing us to eat there.

Gary, aged five, was told (in a loud voice so everyone could hear) that he couldn't have anything off the children's menu as we had a voucher. Instead, he was handed an a la carte menu, even though he can't read, and was offered shrimps among other non-kid friendly meals.

Well, we couldn't have left the venue fast enough. Later I mentioned our fiasco of a meal to a friend who told me she had the same experience in the same restaurant.

"Never again," she swore under her breath. "Actually, I'm finished with all those voucher deals. I can never get an appointment for the days I want, and I always end up giving the deals away to friends."

I suppose when something seems too good to be true, it usually is. A cut-price voucher for a nice four-star hotel may initially seem like a great deal, but on closer inspection, you can only use it Sunday to Thursday (no use to people who work), and key dates are blocked out such as school holidays and bank holiday weekends. So, not such a bargain after all.

In my experience, many salons that do deals don't answer when you phone them, so you need to make several time-consuming calls to get through and it hardly seems worth the effort.


But of course, there's two sides to every story. I spoke to one salon owner who informed me that discount voucher holders are the most demanding customers. They phone up looking for a Saturday appointment the night before, and they rarely tip. Most do not become regular customers and tend to just go to wherever the new deal is - they have no loyalty to anyone. This salon owner told me she just about broke even doing the discount voucher deal, and she swore never to do one again.

I have found myself unsubscribing from most deal sites as my inbox was getting clogged with offers for everything from leg waxing to car valeting. I had to keep saying no. I do not need another facial or a pedicure. I'm being strict with myself. I'm on a complete deal detox.

And God help anyone who gives me a thoughtless voucher for Christmas this year. Unless its a voucher for airline tickets to get me out of here, I don't want to know.