If you’re looking for a great deal on a mani-pedi at the local salon or a 3 for 1 offer on Redbox rentals, then Groupon is for you. The website pairs up with merchants and offers customers discounts on food, car washes, beauty treatments and more. However, the rapid success of the company has come with some uncomfortable and often very public growing pains.
While Groupon appears to have a solid, positive customer service response to those who purchase the deals — as was evidenced by the company shutting down the controversial FTD Valentine’s Day bouquet special — customer service provided to its businesses may be lacking. Without participating businesses, there are no great deals to offer customers. Keeping both groups, the customers buying the deals and the businesses offering them, is essential to the long-term success of Groupon.
This morning, a negative Groupon experience is being featured on the front page of CNNMoney.com. Romil Patel shares his less-than-ideal experience as a business offering a deal in his post My terrible Groupon experience (and great LivingSocial deal).
“I mentioned that I was pondering doing a LivingSocial deal at the time. My account rep said something like "we really want to work with you and hope you don't do one with them because they are copycats." So Groupon came around on my terms for revenue split and credit card fees.”
Copycats? Now I understand that the sales representative wanted to close the deal, but calling the competition a copycat sounds like something my first-grade daughter would say. Despite this odd conversation, Patel went forward with his deal and more customer service problems arose.
As would be expected, Patel had some problem customers and even fraudulent redemptions. Patel flagged these in the Groupon system but getting reimbursement proved to be a test of patience and in the end, Patel had to continually follow up what should have been an automated process.
Groupon’s woes don’t stop with their customer service department, though. In February, Groupon decided to take advantage of the massive Super Bowl audience and ran an ad. Unfortunately, millions of consumers watched an ad that poked fun at Tibet. Tibet’s plight is not humorous — not even the slightest bit funny — and the public outrage was immediate. Groupon quickly pulled the ad and dealt with the public relations nightmare that followed.
Stories of problematic Groupon experiences crop up regularly but honestly, this is to be expected from a company with as many customers as Groupon. As long as Groupon continues to be proactive by addressing these concerns and making changes, the company will continue to attract new customers on a regular basis. However, if Groupon representatives plan to advertise during next year's Super Bowl, they need to make sure their ad draws in customers and doesn't outrage them.
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