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Posts tagged Keynoir

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What has happened to Groupon and Keynoir?

I am a bit annoyed with these two social group buying website at the moment. Once they were a form of excitement, great discounts, deals and experiences from various companies around the UK – especially when you’re trying to keep within a strict budget but still have fun. There were spa days, activity, days, products, etc. It was great.

I first started with Groupon but after a few incidents (one of which with a spa company which took me a whole year to use the voucher I purchased for me and my two friends simply because they kept on ‘misplacing’ our booking, another with misleading terms and conditions, and another in which the company underestimated the time period in which you could use it and was overbooked) I got disgruntled. I still had their emails but they just went straight to the bin. I was not happy at all with Groupon, and with the recent monitoring by the Advertising Standards Authority I am not at all surprised. They are under fire by the Office of Fair Trading and they have 3 months to sort themselves out. View the article here: http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/go/news/article/1087511/groupon-trouble-again-misleading-ads/

I was lucky. I have been refunded my money on each occasion (though I am arguing about one last deal at the moment) but I know there are some who are not as lucky. View an article in the thetruthaboutbeauty blog to see what I mean: http://www.thetruthaboutbeauty.co.uk/uncategorized/groupon-under-fire-from-office-of-fair-trading.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Thetruthaboutbeauty+%28thetruthaboutbeauty%29

In all honesty, once I get refunded my last item (which are some gym passes with a non-responsive Fitness First), I am leaving Groupon. Might stick around to see if they improve over the next three months but I doubt they will. As for KGB deals, I’m afraid I don’t want to go near that site, their excessive emailing does my head in.

Keynoir is starting to follow a similar scary pattern and I’m worried that they will start to become another tragic case. Keynoir is (was) a higher end website and have products from more reputable companies, ones you can trust when it came to quality and service. The agents who found these deals had great taste and I loved them for sourcing some fantastic experiences for the masses. Their website was also well made, with a great referral option, history purchase page, etc. I even thought their emails were well designed.

Recently, I’ve noticed a change. The products don’t seem as good. The emails looked rubbish. I couldn’t even log on the Keynoir website like I used to. Looking into it in more depth, I discover that TimeOut London has purchased Keynoir in order to expand their business and also assist Keynoir in expanding their services outside London and the UK.

I’m a bit worried that this will lead to worse service by Keynoir. Expansion is not always good, especially when you’re meant to be a bespoke, niche and unique company, with attention to detail and quality rather than mass market profit. I understand that they want to expand but I’m worried this will change the way they were once a luxury lifestyle website to morph into an ‘all you can eat in your face buffet’ of garbage. Only time will tell. I’m critical and harsh about this simply because I have been disappointed to many times to count. I’m not putting myself out there as a deal snob either, not my intention, no matter what you buy there is a level of service you should expect from any form of purchase and sadly this doesn’t reflect well for the companies. I’m not the only unhappy customer. I hope this is not the case for Keynoir, I used to love them, but only time will tell.

These are the top UK group buying websites (excluding fashion and travel group buying sites), curious to see if any are good anymore. I stumbled across an older article in the Guardian regarding social buying sites and it is pretty interesting the mergers involved: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/pda/2010/dec/02/amazon-livingsocial-groupon

Perhaps staying independent is a better thing… Hint hint Keynoir.

groupon.co.uk (Ties with Google? Bought out MyCityDeal)

livingsocial.com (Ties with Amazon?)

keynoir.com (Ties with TimeOut)

tickles.co.uk

crowdity.com

groupola.com

incahoot.com

wowcher.co.uk

kgbdeals.co.uk

londonsbest.com

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Filed under Keynoir Groupon

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So many restaurants, so little time! (So small a purse!)

London is a gastronomic haven.

Who doesn’t like a good meal at a new restaurant, a pleasurable surprise which sticks to your memory and makes you want to return again and again. I am terrible however when it comes to remembering names and places, I rely mostly on a more visual and sensory memory rather than the specifics, which is why I tend to ‘tag’ myself in a location that I like. I have far to many moments where I go to a restaurant with family/friends, only to realise that I have been there before. And it isn’t caused by an alcohol black out (no one ever believes me!), I am just incredibly bad at names. (So forgive me if you see me constantly typing/writing, that is the way I recall things better haha!)

Luckily, working in London expands the opportunity to try new things. The down side? It can get so expensive. This is why most people I know, who dine a lot in the city, have one of these many cards which provide discounts when you eat out. Some are yearly memberships, but they pay for themselves after two uses. Worth it I think if you are out with friends or want to treat that special someone to dinner. What is great about these cards is that it gives you a chance to try something new, to go to a new restaurant you have never been before. I’m all for expanding experiences, testing the limits of your taste buds, experiencing different cultures. What better way to start than to see how their food is like? Ha! :D

Discount cards:

TasteCard - The UK’s largest diner’s club where 5500+ restaurants are listed from around the country, offering 25%, 50% and sometimes 2 for 1 offers. There is a 30 day free trial, from there a 12 month membership costs £79.95. But I would wait during Dec for offers/discounts for membership. Some companies offer cheap discounts through work deals.

The Gourmet Society - I never had the opportunity to use them but they seem good. Price is £44.95 (as of Feb 17 2012, usual annual membership is £69.95) for one membership/year. They have around 5,000+ restaurants listed around the UK offering deals.

Hi-Life - By specific regions, I had this while in Manchester and it is not bad. Prices are listed in this website. They don’t seem to do London though, but at least the option is there for the NW, Yorkshire & NE, Ireland and Scotland readers! :D 2 meals for the price of 1, over 2000 restaurants in the UK and Ireland in their books.

Eat Out Dining Card - if you subscribe to The Times as I do, your Times+ card works as a discount card for various restaurants through the Eat Out Dining Card scheme. Alternatively you can purchase the actual card for £50 for a 12 month membership. The restaurants listed here are more unique and bespoke, not the chains you tend to get with the other cards. A definite yes in my book, you get news from the Times and you get to dine with a 25% or 50% discount!

An alternative to discount cards is simply using websites such as Top Table. You will not believe the number of restaurants and discounts available, book in advance and avail of all kinds of perks, you can build up points and get a free meal after several reviews. I refuse to go to any restaurant unless their is a deal of some sort, and why not? I like the thought of getting something extra, feeling a little special. You could also try websites such as Keynoir who sometimes offer amazing deals to high end restaurants at a discounted price (on top of other great exclusive experiences). Watch out for the dates though, you may be restricted during certain times of the week. I would join anyway because you get the deals emailed to you on as and when they are available.

And just for reference, here is a list of great restaurants in London, they may be members of the discount group, they may not, but they are definitely worth a try. Might write a review about each sometime, will see, only so much I can say about food without it becoming repetitive:

Cinnamon Kitchen - Asian fusion restaurant, you will not believe the flavours here. Amazing.

The Mango Tree - Thai restaurant in Belgravia, been twice and always a treat.

The Savoy River Restaurant - Pure indulgence, try their Lunch Du Jour menu, you will be surprised by the price! Watch out for expensive wines.

Thai Square - a Asian theme here I know, love Asian food. They have a restaurant and a more lunch hour area, the Pad Thai is fantastic.

Vapiano - a interesting concept Italian restaurant. There is no service,  choose your dishes from the counter, priced on a card, and eat away. Quite good for a lunch or easy dinner.

Ping Pong - best dim sum and cocktails, so many around the city and the quality is high.

Hibiscus - ranked #9 in the 2012 Good Food Guide’s Top 50 and Voted into the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2011. Enough said!

1 Lombard Street Restaurant - went for breakfast one time, was a real experience. Old world with modern food.

Flemmings Mayfair - Been lucky to go here twice, boutique hotel with class. The food is such a high quality, I would go again. And again.

Carluccio’s - You can’t go wrong with Italian food from Carluccio’s, the ingredients are so good you can even buy them right there! A favorite of me and my brother, especially when I drop him off at Heathrow T5.

Soseki - One of the most beautiful Japanese Restaurants in the Square Mile, delicious food but quite pricy. Special occasions only I think! You can try Macha (under Soseki) which is the dine-away service from the same restaurant, a spot of lunch there isn’t so bad. Delicious clean food.

Fifteen - Jamie Oliver’s apprentice program restaurant, fantastic English and continental dishes with a bit of flair.

Lahore Restaurant - little gem for Pakistani food, it is a mad house but the food there is amazing! Dress down, this isn’t a fancy restaurant, it is one that is simply about flavours/culture. You wouldn’t think you were in London at all! Friend recommended it and I say go for the ribs!

Pasha - Moroccan food, you have no idea how much I love North African food, this is delicious and the atmosphere once again exotic :D

Mildreds - Vegetarian restaurant that so many friends at work have recommended, putting on this list as a must try if you like to go all veggie.

Then again, as found out yesterday back in the office the day after a night out with workmates, you can simply go for KFC, a world of happiness in that crispy skin of a Zinger burger and possibly the best comrade maker in the world. Did you know some of their chicken in London is halal? Kudos to KFC. My workmates and I love you.

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You can share this article using the icons below or if you have any comments I would love to hear from you!

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Filed under London Dining Discount cards Restaurants TasteCard The Gourmet Society Hi-Life Eat Out Dining Card Top Table Keynoir Cinnamon Kitchen The Mango Tree The Savoy River Restaurant Thai Square Vapiano Ping Pong Hibiscus 1 Lobard Street Restaurant Flemmings Mayfair Carluccio's Soseki Fifteen Lahore Restaurant Pasha Mildreds