How to Cheat Groupon

Ladies and gentlemen: the ideas you are about to read are true. Only the presentation has been changed to make me look like less of an idiot.
Groupon is great. I love it. I'm addicted. Each day they "feature something cool to do at an unbeatable price" and when enough people buy-in the deal is "on" (see: woot.com). There are thousands of restaurants in Chicago, and I can't get out to all of them. But when I see that I can get double the value for half the price, I am immediately tempted (read: brainwashed) into buying the Groupon of the day.

How Groupon Is Supposed To Work

The system is supposed to serve customers who see unbelievable offers to local businesses. I buy a coupon; I either print it or present it on my smartphone; and I usually have an enjoyable experience. The experience is almost as great as the business model.

Groupon's Problem

Most businesses are still 10 years behind when it comes to interacting with customers. They want you to print a copy of everything. If you use Groupon's iPhone app (saving you, the customer, from printing a meaningless piece of paper), Groupon's client just jots down whatever number you show them on the screen. PROBLEM:When you use their iPhone app, Groupon expects you to "Mark As Used". "Expects" is where the vulnerability lies. The Groupon system never marks it used. They rely on the honest user. I've flashed my iPhone at a crowded lunch spot and had someone from high school come up from behind and surprise me so I hurriedly locked my phone and shoved it in my pocket. The next time I visited the same establishment (as I had multiple Groupons), I realized that the coupon I didn't "Mark As Used" last time was still valid. An honest mistake that exploits the honesty system. Another situation arose while I was out trying to use a Groupon on my iPhone where the manager had me email him a screenshot of the number. I mistyped his email address; he said he never got it; and had me write it down on the receipt. It was never claimed.

How To Cheat Groupon

Disclaimer: You're not really cheating Groupon. You are cheating the small businesses who place their faith in the great Groupon community. I'm sorry Groupon, but if you didn't think of this you should hire me or someone with half a brain regarding security. I am not responsible if you use these for personal gain. Please don't!
Photoshop the printouts by changing one digit. Save as PDF, open in Photoshop or Gimp, erase whatever digit you want, and put another digit in there after matching the font. The restaurant or bar won't run the number until you are long gone. Sleezy? Yes. Guaranteed to work? Yes. iPhone app user? Take a screenshot of your Groupon code, edit just like I previously mentioned, bring up saved image/pdf/html to server or cashier. Same principle, less paper. The cashier will jot down whatever number you show them and charge you the difference. Until Groupon fixes this loophole, you will be able to reuse and duplicate coupons endlessly (or until the Groupon expires). I'm sorry to all the small business who will lose money because of this post. I really am. There's always one guy in the crowd that has to ruin it for the rest of us. Sorry to be that guy. Groupon, please fix this! I'll post a follow up with some of my ideas.

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