The word "free" is a very effective buzzword to most people; the idea of getting something at no cost really piques human interest. In the case of buy-one, get-one-free (or BOGO) deals, people can even be tricked into purchasing things at much higher prices than they would have otherwise, just because the word "free" is included in the title. This article will help you evaluate BOGO offers, especially those that come as coupons, and hopefully you'll know how to avoid getting scammed when it comes to these alleged deals.
Determining whether or not a BOGO final price is a scam or not requires a good knowledge of prices on the items you're potentially buying. Some people keep a price list to help them keep track of what's what; others are intimately familiar with prices and know them instinctually. No matter your method, you should have a clear idea of what a regular (but decent) price is and what a good sale looks like; that way, you have something to compare the BOGO price to. For this article, we'll use the example of a carton of eggs; a normal price is $2.09 and a sale price is $1.20.
Underpriced BOGO offers are what you want. For example, you may clip a coupon from your Sunday paper as part of a promotional campaign to push the healthy benefits of eggs. This coupon is great because it can be used on any brand of eggs, and virtually every store in the country will honor it. Now let's say that this week, eggs are on sale for $1.20 at your local grocery store; that BOGO coupon would mean you are paying a mere $0.60 per carton for the eggs. That's an amazing deal!
Overpriced BOGO offers are where things get dangerous. Let's say you normally buy eggs from the store down the hill from you, but this week there was a coupon in the mail-ad for the fancier store several blocks further. It's a BOGO coupon, and since eggs aren't even on sale this week at your normal store, you opt to go there. Upon arrival, however, you find that the fancy store's eggs are normally $5.19 -- organic and free-range, certainly, but that means that even with the BOGO coupon, you're paying about $2.60 per carton. That's $0.51 more than you pay at your normal store! This is a bad BOGO offer, unless you're determined to have better eggs.
Another potential problem with BOGO coupons is a surplus of whatever item you're buying. Eggs are a good example; you may not be able to use 24 eggs in the time it takes for them to go bad. If this is a problem, try finding a friend who wants the same item and split the cost of two.
Be careful when using BOGO coupons -- at some stores, you can only use one coupon per item. That means that if you were planning on getting a good price on those eggs because of another coupon, you likely can't add the BOGO on top, so you have to calculate one or the other.
Know of a coupon-related problem you'd like us to solve? Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll see if we can't help you out in a future blog entry!