For a few years now, there has been a dramatic increase in online “deal” Web sites where subscribers can get bargains on a variety of products and services. These “deal a day” Web sites typically offer (for a fee) localized coupons or gift certificates good for dining, beauty services, auto repair, cosmetics, cosmetic dentistry and a variety of other goods and services. The defacto standard is “half price,” but I have seen discounts offered in excess of 90 percent. There are several large national purveyors of these localized daily deals, with Groupon currently being the market leader, with Living Social, Plum District, BuyWithMe, DealPulp, Restaurants.com, and many others currently offering similar services. This business of offering local deals has become quite lucrative, exemplified by Groupon, which is about to go public with a billion dollar IPO that, according to the Wall Street Journal, will give Groupon a market valuation of about $20 billion.
I subscribe to the daily e-mails from several of these services and have used them while traveling outside of the local area or while visiting out-of-town relatives. The major problem with these deal services is there has been a dearth of offers from businesses in Southeast Texas. Sometimes, though not often, Restaurants.com has had a coupon deal for a Southeast Texas restaurant that I purchased and used, but I have not seen a current Beaumont listing there for a few years.
Now, it appears that those of us here in Southeast Texas might finally get a chance to get local bargains comparable to those offered in larger population centers. A new service EponToday  has just debuted in Southeast Texas, under the auspices of The Examiner, the publisher of this newspaper. While only online for a few days, EponToday has offered some spectacular deals, all of which are only available for a limited time. One deal was for the excellent The Grill and Cabana Lounge at 6680 Calder in Beaumont, where EponToday subscribers could get a $50 gift certificate (voucher) for $25, a discount of 50 percent.
Another recent deal is admission for four people to Club Salsa, an event at the Gig on Crockett Street and on the last Friday of each month. At Club Salsa, there are free dance lessons from 8 to 10 p.m. where guests can learn a variety of dances, including the salsa, meringue and the rumba. At 10 p.m., with the accompaniment of a live band, guests can demonstrate the dance moves that they have just mastered. Subscribers to EponToday could have purchased the voucher, good for four admissions, for only $20, which is just half of the normal $40 tariff.
While still in its early stages of development, EponToday holds great promise to Southeast Texas residents and visitors by offering bargains that had only been available in the larger cities. EponToday announces its daily deals on its Web site at epontoday.com , via daily e-mail, and postings on Facebook and Twitter, as well as by RSS feed. All that is necessary to receive the EponToday announcements is to subscribe to the free service at epontoday.com/deal/subscription , and then register online at epontoday.com/user/signup . Once registered, users can purchase any desired deals subject to posted limitations. A daily deal can be easily purchased by clicking on the “BUY” button while the offer is still current, and paying for the voucher using PayPal or a credit card.
Using one of the purchased vouchers is very simple; the voucher can be printed at the time of purchase, and then presented to the business, along with a photo ID, to get the stated deal. Alternatively, the vouchers may be displayed on a smart phone, iPhone, iPad or similar device, and shown to the business, along with a photo ID. That is how simple it is to utilize some of the best bargains available in Southeast Texas.Since many people may enjoy taking advantage of these daily deals with their friends, if a subscriber purchases a daily deal and then shares the information with a friend who also purchases the deal, the original subscriber gets a $5 credit on their account that may be used toward future deals.
EponToday offers its “EponToday Guarantee,” by which if the user is ever dissatisfied with EponToday, all the user needs to do is contact EponToday by e-mail (CRS [at] EponToday [dot] com or epontoday [at] gmail [dot] com) or by phone, (409) 832-4178 (during normal business hours), where a live human being will do what it takes to reasonably satisfy the user, up to a refund of the purchase price.
Being somewhat of an ardent bargain hunter myself, I think that it is great to have a local daily deal service like EponToday. I was one of the first subscribers of EponToday, and look forward to discounted great meals and a panoply of bargains on other goods and services. Welcome, EponToday ! Glad to have you here.
Listen to Ira Wilsker’s weekly radio show on Mondays from 6-7 p.m. on KLVI 560AM.