Discount vouchers Discount voucher websites
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If you're looking to bag a bargain when shopping, you may have considered using online discount vouchers.
In 2008, according to internet measurement company Hitwise, there was a 45% increase in visits to discount voucher websites – where visitors can get money off goods by using voucher codes at online stores, or by printing vouchers and presenting them in shops.
As well as vouchers, many sites list general discounts that you can find on the high street or at online stores. These sites claim that they'll save you money, often through the 'latest' and 'exclusive' discounts. But, when we tried out five of the most popular discount voucher websites one week in February 2009, we found that, in many cases, you'd get less of a bargain than you might expect.
Popular deals on discount voucher sites
An initial trawl of Myvouchercodes.co.uk, Vouchercodes.co.uk, Everydaysale.co.uk, Hotukdeals.com and Vouchercodes.com showed that most deals involved using discount codes used for online shopping, so we focused on these in our research.
We tried shopping online with these discount voucher codes, and we checked price comparison sites including Kelkoo, Pricerunner and our own Which? Compare to see whether we could buy items more cheaply by shopping around.
We picked electrical, entertainment, and clothing products – your three most popular shopping categories in our .
Overall, our discount voucher research revealed that:
- many prices were lower on price comparison sites than they were on the five discount voucher sites
- many codes are not up to date and don't work
- there are bargains available on some items, such as clothes.
When we looked for the Panasonic Viera TX-32LZD80, we found a better price on comparison sites than using discount vouchers (see the table below).
|Discount vouchers vs comparison sites|
|Best deal on price comparison sites||£530|
|Best deal using discount voucher sites||£539|
|Worst deal using discount voucher site||£703|
Prices for the Panasonic Viera TX-32LZD80 TV
So is it all just clever advertising? Some discount voucher sites get commission from retailers every time a code is used to make a purchase. Others, such as Hotukdeals.com, rely on users to post deals instead.
We found, however, that some users' deals didn't work. An alarming number of codes from discount voucher sites had expired or weren't recognised when we tried shopping with them, particularly in the entertainment and clothing categories.
We did find some good discount deals, for example, at shops such as Marksandspencer.com. There were also lots of codes for free delivery on goods.
While there are good deals to be had from discount voucher websites, it can take a lot of time and effort to hunt them out, not least because we found codes are often out of date.
When we contacted all five of the websites, only Myvouchercodes.co.uk, and Vouchercodes.co.uk responded. They said keeping things up to date is a challenge and that they have systems in place to help ensure discount vouchers work.