Facebook Deals' first-day offers are a great deal of hype

Facebook Deals launched in the UK today, so we've taken a closer look at the big deals on day one. And there isn't a great deal to be excited about...

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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Facebook Deals launched in the UK today, bringing with it offers when you check into shops and retail outlets such as O2, Starbucks, Mazda and Alton Towers. But let's not get too excited just yet -- we've put our financial advice hats on and taken a closer look at the deals available today.

Deals and discounts are all the rage at the moment. Can Facebook Deals compete with the online cashback offered by Quidco, the offers proffered by Hot UK Deals, the daily deals of Groupon, or the cast-iron bargains hunted down by MoneySavingExpert? On today's evidence, it doesn't look good...

Mazda MX-5

Deal: 20 per cent off a Mazda MX-5! At first glance, this looks like the biggest money deal: get 20 per cent off a Mazda MX-5, or maybe even win one.

No deal: That's 20 per cent off the list price. You can knock money off the list price just by haggling -- and the discount is only available in five dealerships! And, even if you win one of the five MX-5 Miyakos up for grabs, you can't keep it: it's only yours for five months.

Yo! Sushi

Deal: Five free plates of sushi and a free small drink each for you and a friend. Tasty.

No deal: It's a decent offer, but there's a catch. We suggest you stop reading this and take an early lunch if you fancy some free sushi, as the deal is limited to the first 1,000 check-ins across about 50 restaurants. You also need a smart phone, as you have to show your phone to staff to claim the deal. Outside of Facebook, Yo! Sushi frequently offers free and discount offers through Hot UK Deals and its own loyalty schemes.


Deal: 1,000 free Benefit mascaras and 10 free makeovers.

No deal: Our knee-jerk reaction was to laugh: a paltry one free mascara? Pssh. Then we remembered that those things cost about 15 blinkin' quid each. Still, that's not very many.


Deal: 10 per cent off all accessories. Win an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.

No deal: 10 per cent off Bluetooth headsets? Four Xboxes up for grabs? Two PlayStations if you buy a phone contract? Hold the front page!


Deal: Free tall filter coffee. Free cake on Saturday when you buy two drinks.

No deal: There are 30,000 free coffees going begging. That's one for every branch of Starbucks in the country. We're kidding, there's about 700. In London, you're never more than a few feet from a Starbuck's... or a rat. The deal is only for today. And if you keep an eye on its Facebook page or have a loyalty card, Starbucks gives away free filter coffee on a semi-regular basis anyway.

The cake thing sounds good though. Mmmm, cake.

Argos and Benetton

Deal: £1 donated to the Teenage Cancer Trust for the first 10,000 check-ins at Argos this week. £2 or €2 for checking-in at a Benetton store in the UK, France, Italy, Germany or Spain.

No deal: Why can't Argos just donate £10,000 to charity? Is it because it doesn't think it'll get 10,000 check-ins in the tight timeframe? The numbers look better with Benetton, but the project is more specific: a technology and media lab for young people in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Yes, any money going to charity is a good thing, but this is a pretty cynical playing of the charity card.

Usher CD

Deal: 20 per cent off Usher's new album when you go and see him in concert in London.

No deal: Are you kidding?

Alton Towers

Deal: Free entry to Alton Towers on Friday 18 February for yourself and three friends.

No deal: The first 100 people to check in will receive a free night in the park hotel, but you'll have to get up early for that. Before you set your alarm clock, ask yourself this simple question: can you legally vote? If the answer is yes, stay away from this offer.

If the answer is no, you're sorted, because judging by the Alton Towers Facebook wall, the theme park will be overrun by smart phone-toting teenagers on the 18th. If you are a smart phone-toting teen, prepare your excuse for skiving school or college, head down there with four people per phone and knock yourselves out.

Deal or no deal?

It's only day one of Facebook Deals, so we're not going to write it off altogether. But we have to say, the launch offers aren't so much great deals as a great deal of hot air.

All the offers are either cynical gimmicks or hopelessly limited, or both -- and there certainly isn't anything here you couldn't find with the tiniest bit of effort on other money-saving sites. Facebook Deals has potential, so we hope this isn't a taster of what the service will be like in future.

What we'd really like to see is ongoing discounts we can take advantage of whenever we feel like, building solid brand loyalty. Sadly, retailers seem to love these gimmicky social media one-offs.

What do you think of Facebook Deals? Great deal or raw deal? Tell us in the comments or on our Facebook wall.