I was an earlier adopter of Groupon since I loved the concept and thought it a good use of Web technology. It was pleasing
to see the public response to it and how it moved around the world and generated a legion of “copy cats.” A case study on
Groupon became an integral part of the course I teach on E-Commerce at the University of Hong Kong and talks that I am
often asked to give on E-Commerce technologies.I was therefore surprised when “my Groupon bubble burst,” but it will give me new material to lecture on.
A while back I bought a Groupon for residential cleaning from Universal Maintenance Co. in San Francisco. Nancy and I
had hoped that we might use it for exterior window cleaning. Scheduling its use was a problem but I had no fear since
the Groupon said “The amount paid for this voucher ($240) with Universal Maintenance Co. NEVER EXPIRES.” Further down
it read “If the merchant refuses to honor this voucher because the promotional value has expired or for any other
reason, Groupon will refund the amount paid. Period.”
We did miss the expiration date, but finally I got around to trying to arrange an appointment with Universal
Maintenance for the the amount that I paid. To my surprise I found that Universal Maintenance appears to be out
of business since the Web site on the Groupon failed and a search was unsuccessful. No matter, it had both “expired”
and there was “another reason” so Groupon would give me credit – WRONG!
An e-mail sent to Groupon Customer Support explaining this predicament was quickly responded to and I was told that
they would get back to me. Weeks passed and another e-mail brought no response. What a great example of customer
support and CRM for my lectures!
Finally I decided to start over again. Once again a quick response BUT it said, “I’m very sorry for the inconvenience
and the delay in response here. It looks like that previous ticket was misdirected.Since this Groupon was purchased between
November 1, 2008 and December 1, 2011, you may be eligible for a replacement voucher from a class action settlement. If
so, you should have received an email notification at your Groupon-registered email address. If you haven’t received a claim
form, please go to http://grouponvouchersettlement.com or call (800) 589-1256. The settlement website offers several ways
to obtain and submit your claim form online. Alternatively, I can provide you with the form directly if that’s more convenient.
This class action lawsuit specifically pertains to expiration dates and other restrictions on Groupon vouchers. We have
voluntarily entered into this settlement because it’s best for our customers, merchants, and Groupon. As a result of this
settlement, we are unable to issue a refund for this Groupon directly. If eligible, you will receive a new voucher for this
business that can be redeemed for the face value of the deal — the price you paid for the Groupon. If the business is unable
to honor this new voucher for whatever reason, a monetary refund will then be made available to you.”
Nothing about the promise on the Groupon, just a polite “tough luck, sucker” and “stand in line and maybe you’ll get
something back.” I will file the claim but needless to say I am not hopeful.
No more Groupons for me and I am anxious to see the offers that come from their competitors. In addition, I’m amending that
Groupon case study to include my e-mail exchanges and this posting.