Love Groupon? You may get more than you bargained for

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- The thought of snagging a good deal can be tantalizing, but spending too much time on daily deal websites like Groupon can lead to addiction and wasted money.

“The whole concept is about getting a good deal. So people are more prone to buy when there is some really good deal, or even the façade of a good deal,” said Michael Yasinski, a Phoenix psychiatrist who treats patients with shopping addictions.

The “get it while it lasts” atmosphere created by websites such as Groupon are just fun for most people, but some let it interfere with work, relationships, and finances, according to Dr. Yasinski.

He said another red flag is shopping as a primary coping mechanism.

“If you deal with stress by shopping, or that’s kind of your go to move for dealing with stress, that’s never a good sign,” said Dr. Yasinski.

Sara Gullickson spends hours every day scrolling Groupon deals from her Phoenix home.

“I love Groupon. I will actually get up in the morning and look at the deals on my cell phone and see what deals I like,” said Gullickson. “There’s a lot of spa deals on there, so I’m constantly buying those.”

However, Gullickson ends up wasting money on deals she never uses.

“A lot of times I think I’m going to use it. There was a belly dancing one a couple of months ago. I never used it,” said Gullickson.

Dr. Yasinski said a tell-tale sign of a Groupon addict is someone who continues to buy Groupon deals they never use.

“It is poor impulse control, and poor decision making,” said Dr. Yasinski. “A deal sucks them in and they buy it and most of the stuff never gets used.”

The company’s website claims to have a hotline for Groupon addiction, but a spokesperson said it is just a joke. Still, Dr. Yasinski said shopping addiction is no laughing matter.

Although it affects only a small segment of the population, for some people, it can be a serious problem.

“You lose all your money, you lose all your relationships and what’s left? You’re lonely and your only coping skill is shopping," added Dr. Yasinski.