Catch in 'deal of the day' offers

SOME people swear by ''deal of the day'' offers, in which you pay half price or less for a voucher or coupon entitling you to services ranging from pole-dancing classes to house cleaning. However, they're starting to generate sufficient complaints to be on the radar of consumer regulators.

Grievances include some offers not living up to what was promised, long delays obtaining goods or services paid for upfront, plus fine print that makes vouchers difficult to redeem before they expire. There are also question marks over how genuine some of the discounts are and consumers have complained of difficulties obtaining refunds when they have a problem.

In addition, Money has been told by more than one source that 25 per cent to 30 per cent of vouchers - which usually cost in the range of $15 to $99 but can run into three figures for accommodation deals - are never used.

Many of the issues are put down to teething problems in an industry that's only a couple of years old in Australia but growing at a phenomenal rate.

''I'm hearing of a new deal-of-the-day operator starting up on almost a weekly basis,'' one shopping coupon industry source says.

''So you are going to get some less reputable operators in there. We are all expecting some rationalisation and, in some ways, the sooner consolidation comes, the better.