Reporting Paula Ebben
BOSTON (CBS) – When Groupon took the world by storm a few years ago, it seemed just about everyone loved the idea of scoring deep discounts on everything from dinner out to skydiving.
But not every deal leaves customers with a smile, just ask Christine Remo who ordered two Groupons for personalized stationary. She was told her order would be ready in three weeks. When she called to check on the order the woman on the phone said, “Are you with Groupon?” When Christine answered yes the woman replied, “What a nightmare!” The company was overwhelmed with orders and Christine was told her order would take months.
“My jaw dropped,” she recalled. “What do you mean months? I was told three weeks.”
WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports
Business consultant Christopher Murphy is not surprised by Christine’s story. “Groupon and these daily deal coupons can be a double-edged sword,” he said. “It can be great [for] sales. It can be great advertising, but it can also overwhelm the businesses,” he explained.
Murphy has purchased dozens of these deals himself. He ran into a similar problem when he purchased a coupon for a custom dress shirt from a Boston-area company. “It was really disappointing that the company made a commitment to me by selling me a coupon and just wasn’t able to fulfill the coupon because they were so overwhelmed with the response,” he said.
Even if you are able to redeem your coupon right away, whether it’s a manicure or a dinner out, Murphy warned the rush of new business can create what he calls the ‘restaurant week’ effect. “You just don’t get the same experience that you would on any other day. So someone who is coming in for the first time into a restaurant isn’t experiencing the restaurant at the peak of its performance,” he explained.
There are still plenty of great deals out there; you just have to do a little bit of homework.
- First, check out online reviews of the business to make sure you are getting a quality product.
- Make sure you read the fine print so you are aware of any restrictions up front.
- Avoid impulse buys. Are you really going to use a boxing gym membership?
And most importantly, according to Murphy, if you are buying a coupon for something that requires an appointment or a reservation, make those arrangements before you purchase the coupon.
Murphy went directly to Groupon and got a refund for the dress shirt. Christine eventually got her stationary, but only after she contacted the Better Business Bureau.