Ah, Living Social. I’ve always loved you. Even loved you too much. You made me feel so powerful, like I had DC under control while on a budget. Those were good days.
Well, now you’ve moved into new territory. 918 F Street, your new flagship “event center,” is a beautiful, cruel prison. With pristine and spacious rooms for classes on beer and cheese pairings, yoga, bonbon making, painting, and who knows what else, you have turned the deal on its head.
Let’s take a recent Yoga+Wine Tasting event. The one hour of class with a Yoga District teacher (normally $10) and some wine and pita chips (nominal) came to $19. I suppose the building is beautiful and all (I especially loved the old-timey elevator and the 1930s theme) but I felt like Living Social was getting the deal here, not me.
On the other hand, I know you’re saying that the new space is a pop-up shop of sorts wherein your merchants can more easily offer their classes. But really, these merchants don’t need your space, they need your business. How is Blush and Brush ($50 for 2 hours) going to compete with your Sippin’ and Paintin’ ($29 for 2 hours) unless they knock down their prices and give you a cut of their takings? Living Social, that would make you…Walmart. That kind of power lets you dictate your prices, and that’s hardly a deal for me at all.
And it wasn’t only the customers who seemed to be taken for a ride. The employees gave the impression of being stuck on a merry-go-round and trying to get off: Living Social seemed like a good idea (beer fridges, witty banter, yay!) but man, they work you to the bone! Almost every staff member looked worn down by the effort to be chipper 24-7. Poor Living Social minions, you’ll escape one day.
The fun never stops here at Hotel California. Classes are held seven days a week. There is a concert venue for bands like OAR, along with a sunken bar. Note: I signed a waiver for the yoga class, but no one at the wine tasting in the bar was carded. Legal misstep, Living Social?
In the long run, I may return to 918 F Street, but only if the deal is too good to pass up. And, since it’s Living Social, it probably will be. Because, you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.