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KGB Deals: deals you can't count on!
Member Name: Wickedinrock
Advantages: lots of offers, refunds are paid out
Disadvantages: they're not reliable!
KGB is an unfortunately named New York based company which has been around for 15 years. They are the world's largest independent provider of directory assistance and enhanced information services whose most recognisable brand is the telecommunication service 118118. KGB Deals is one of their companies; a website which offers heavily discounted products and deals on everything from theatre and restaurants to massages and haircuts. It is very similar to the website Groupon which I also subscribe to and hear positive things about, but have yet to buy anything through.
To be eligible for the offers on KGB deals you must first sign up to the website with your email addressing, choosing a password and then select your city. I live in London so I receive KGB deals for London. You can also choose cities from Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield in the UK. You will receive their daily offers to your email account which are often discount products or services. You just simply click on the link to the deal and click 'buy' before the offer ends. There are often a limited number of each deal and there is normally a 24 hour or one week deadline.
Anyway, I'm a massive fan of offers, deals, discounts etc so I was happy to subscribe to their daily alerts. I have now attempted to use KGB three times which has enabled me to form my judgment on this company!
Deals I have purchased
1. £1 Odeon cinema tickets. This was the reason I signed up to KGB Deals in the first place. Martin's Money Saving Tips email tipped me off that there would be a limited number of cinema tickets available for £1 - one per customer to stop people buying them in bulk and selling them off cheaper. My boyfriend and I bought one each and everything went to plan. The email with the confirmation came through within minutes and within a week the tickets had arrived through the post as described. The tickets had a one month expiry date which was great, but if there had been any delay in the post it might not have been as useful! We went to the cinema the following week and were able to use the tickets no problem. For this deal and the ease of use I will give KGB 5/5!
2. £12 two hour cleaning session. When I saw this offer I was delighted! I checked up on UK Cleaning Solutions online to make sure they were a real company and even Googled their name along with the word 'scam' to make sure. Satisfied this was legitimate I bought myself two vouchers (customers were allowed to purchase up to 10) and received a confirmation email within minutes. The next day I received an email from 'Tim' with details of the deal and available cleaning slots, along with a form which asked for my address, personal details and the times which I would prefer for the two slots. I sent back the form within hours and had an out of office message telling they would get back to me within two days. I still felt perfectly content at this stage as there was over a week until the first clean. When I still hadn't heard back by the day before they were scheduled to clean the house I sent another email chasing it up and tried calling the phone number on their website over and over again. No response to the email and the phone number rang out. I understood that they probably had many people to write back to and get in touch with so still wasn't fretting too much at this stage. Over the next week, much to my disappointment there was still no answer by email and I couldn't get through on the phone, although this time the automated voice message told me that the mailbox was full! Great! I contacted KGB who were very quick to assure me that they would look into it.
The next few days were annoying, waiting for a response, when finally I checked my hotmail to see that I had received an email from 'Josh' at UK Cleaning Solutions.
"We apologise for inconveniencing you, however on this occasion we cannot carry out the cleaning of your property via KGB Deals. We have asked KGB Deals to give you a full refund".
Well, bad news but at least I finally had an answer. No £12 full cleaning sessions for me but at least I'd be getting my money back! I checked with KGB who wrote back quickly to tell me it would be processed soon. It took 5 weeks from paying to getting my refund but at least they paid it! For this disaster I would give 1/5 (it would be worse but KGB were actually quick at responding to me and I did get my refund...).
3. £1 cocktails at Rumi Lounge, Chelsea. This deal seemed fantastic so assuming the cleaning deal was a one-off, my 5 colleagues and I each bought 5 £1 vouchers each. We received them quickly and organised a night to go out after work the next week which was fine, we could use them for up to a month. My friend (also Danielle!) saw something on the bottom of her email saying that we had to ring up first to let them know we were coming so she gave them a quick ring earlier that day. The lady she spoke to told us that they had no room for us that night which we thought was very strange for a bar, but understood that they probably wanted to restrict the number of people using vouchers each evening. We were really disappointed but booked in for the following Thursday which was the only date available the next week.
So, Thursday night arrives and we make our way towards the bar, however it's very difficult to find and we end up walking past four times before realising Rumi Lounge is the dark, closed up, dodgy looking place down an alley off the main road. Thank goodness for iPhones - we check the website and find that it doesn't open until 6pm which is 25 minutes away. Unfortunately we can't find anywhere to hang out until it opens so we just walk around and come back at 6pm. Still not open. Wait 15 more minutes. Still not open. We call, no answer, we ring the bell, no answer. THEN a big white Mercedes pulls up and a guy in a massive hat asks us what's going on, apparently he's the owner who just happened to be driving past to check on his businesses! We explain the situation and he's very apologetic and calls the bar manager and basically screams down the phone at him in front of us. Apparently the website is wrong and this central London bar doesn't open until 7pm but tonight with the lack of staff it will be after 8pm! Great! We had no intention of waiting around that long so went home disappointed knowing we wouldn't bother going back! Danielle emailed KGB next day and arranged refunds for all of us. The money was refunded within a week this time. I feel like this was a scam and that the company relies on hundreds of people to buy vouchers at £1 which is such a small amount that they won't claim their money back. Unimpressed but another 1/5 for the pure fact that KGB quickly refunded the cash.
The idea of a website providing offers in a particular region is great, mainly because it stops people from the north of England receiving things only valid in London (where most deals seem to be). However, this regionalised approach can also be a negative because it excludes those who do not live in big cities and it is unlikely people that people will sign up if they only travel into a city once or twice a month.
I think KGB should spend longer vetting the companies that they are so happy to promote on their website. The fact that two out of three times the deals have been absolute duds is not a great statistic and I therefore couldn't recommend using this site to anyone. The one positive experience I had with them was great and I'm sure that there are other, legitimate offers which are excellent and have been well received. I would certainly wait for brands/shops etc that I have heard of in the future before purchasing anything like this and do a bit more online research! However, I have now unsubscribed myself from KGB deals and am determined never to fall for any rubbish like this again... until Groupon offers me something I can't say no to!
All in all, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably IS too good to be true! Be careful with these deals and really think about whether you want what they are offering and whether you are happy to spend your money on something that might not work out. I'm the type who sees something reduced and assume that I need it so have definitely learned my lesson. I get the feeling that in a lot of cases with the cheapest deals like £1 drinks or £5 meals, they rely on customers forgetting to book or deciding against it and not claiming back their money. However, the good thing about KGB is that they do offer full refunds if you are not satisfied and so far they have been reliable on that score.
I actually started writing this a couple of weeks ago as a warning to stay away from KGB deals but now that it's been a while since the last two incidents I've calmed down a bit and realised that my experiences with KGB might not be the same as everyone elses! I actually took pictures of all the emails they sent me and various documents I got from UK Cleaning Solutions but I don't think I'll upload them after all even though it's always nice to accompany a review with some pics! I'm sure that there are some real bargains to be had on KGB deals if you are prepared to receive all their emails and wait for the right product. However, from my experience I can't give them more than 2/5 and I think that's generous!
Summary: I wouldn't bother with KGB