(NEXSTAR) – It all started with targeted advertising on Instagram – as do a lot of my online shopping adventures these days. There was a new app that extended the service to the area where I live in Los Angeles that would allow me to pick up leftover food from restaurants, grocery stores, cafes, and bakeries for a fraction of the price.
The company has been operating in European cities for some time and has recently started expanding to cities in the United States. At the time of publication, Too Good To Go was operating in Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, DC area, New York, parts of New Jersey, San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Portland, Philadelphia, Providence, Seattle and a few other parts of the country. The company says on its website that it plans to grow further in the coming months, but does not specify where or when. (Too Good To Go did not respond to Nexstar’s requests for comment.)
The app is quite easy to use. When you open it, restaurants in your area have deals with different pickup times and prices. Most of the options that I have seen in my area are “goody bags,” a mix of items that will remain a mystery to you until you collect them.
Still, the prices were attractive, especially in expensive Los Angeles. Plus, I’m not a picky eater.
Too Good To Go sounded too good to be true. So I decided to give it a try.
Attempt # 1: Epic Failure
My first attempt to try Too Good To Go – to put it simply – didn’t work at all. I spotted an offer at a smoothie place less than a mile from my apartment for $ 3.99. I paid through the app and got an early evening pickup window just before the store closed.
It was one of those ‘goodie bags’ so I had no idea what it would be, but I was intrigued to see what kind of goodies a high end smoothie store had left at the end of the day. the day. It turns out the answer was nothing.
The store clerk looked really confused when I showed up for my pickup. “No, I’m fine,” he told me, as if I was selling him something, not the other way around. I explained how the app works (supposedly) and he still didn’t quite get it. I left empty-handed.
If there is a bright side to this failure, it’s that Too Good To Go seems very prepared to deal with this situation. It took me a push of an app button to get my money back.
Attempt # 2: Things Are Getting Better
Undeterred in my quest for cheap food, I decided to give Too Good To Go another chance. I wasn’t ready to risk heartbreak at the smoothie store (which hurt me a lot) times when I first moved to LA and accidentally bought a $ 16 smoothie, but that’s another story). I decided to try my luck in a pizzeria and I scheduled a pickup window from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
When I got to the empty pizzeria I was again faced with a bit of confusion. But there was a happy ending this time around. A bit of an explanation and they started packing my order: four huge slices of pizza – the kind where one slice counts as one meal – each with different toppings like mushrooms, garlic, and ricotta.
I ended up with four meals for $ 4.99. Not too bad.
Attempt n Â° 3: take the hit
On my third try, I walked into the French bakery with confidence and my redemption code ready. The employee who greeted me also knew what she was doing this time. She wrote down my code from the app, ran to the back of the store for a short minute, then came back and loaded me up with a bag of pastries.
I got it all for $ 4.99 – not bad in a city where you could easily pay that much for a single croissant.
It was the bag of food that won me over. If that were to be dismissed at the end of the day – as Too Good To Go advertises – it seems like a win-win situation: cheap food for me, less waste for the business.
But in my experience so far, being flexible is key. You have to be okay with fixed pickup times, a mysterious assortment of merchandise, and the ability to end up with nothing every now and then. I wouldn’t rely on it for planning my weekly meals, but I’m not the type to turn down a discount. Or a pastry shop.