Rant: Coupon Site Cleaning Services
By now, most of us have sampled from the daily offerings of Groupon, LivingSocial, and their copycat competitors. To twist an old cliché, generally speaking, you don’t get what you pay for, particularly with their service-oriented offerings.
It’s easy to see why a budding business would want to sign up with one of these deal sites: By offering a discounted introduction, you attract new customers and hopefully get some buzz going.
But does it really work that way? We’ve had particularly foul experiences with housecleaning services. Last fall, we paid $50 for three hours of cleaning, which normally would’ve cost about twice that much. The cleaners spent no more than 90 minutes at our place—which we discovered by accident only because our landlord happened to be there at the same time. On top of that, the cleaners merely gave the place the quick wipe-down that I do every weekend in the course of my normal chores, which is why I wanted to hire a real cleaner in the first place.
More recently, we paid $140 through Groupon to another service for three apartment cleanings. For the first appointment, no one showed up, and then they claimed the appointment had been for the following weekend even though the text messages they'd sent to confirm showed otherwise. The second time, we were 12 minutes late to meet the cleaners (my cell phone call log proves this), but they (rather confrontationally) claimed to have waited 20 minutes before they left. Although they promised to call and reschedule, we never heard from them again. Needless to say, we’ve applied to Groupon for a refund, and it appears that our negative experience with this particular service is far from unique .
The moral: Steer clear of discount sites unless you know precisely what you’re getting.
For a taste of what customer service should be everywhere, head to Ignite!  This LoDo eatery is an affordable but higher-end alternative to the Ballpark District’s burger-and-brew sports bars. On our first visit, the manager stopped by mid-meal for a welcoming chat, and he later returned with a coupon for a free appetizer to use on our next visit.
The second time we dined, we both ordered steak frites, one of Ignite’s many simple and tasty wood-fired eats. The waiter—who already had been more professional and gracious than most Denver servers are—had noticed that one of our steaks was noticeably smaller than the other. Before we’d even spotted this, he told us that he’d instructed the kitchen to prepare a second steak, gratis. With this simple, voluntary gesture, he headed off a potential problem and replaced it with endless goodwill. Although the food at Ignite! is memorable enough to keep us coming back anyway, the service is what will motivate us to tell everyone we know about it.
—Image  courtesy of Shutterstock