What if Your Group Coupon Can’t Be Used?

by Kay Lynn

Wine-O Groupon

One of the ways we save money is by purchasing group coupons from Groupon, Plum District, Living Social and more. We’ve seen musicals, had our carpet and house cleaned and dined out at 50% off or more.  I even bought credit at  half off at one site to use when buying those deals!

One of the objections to buying group coupons is with uncertainty about them being accepted. With the dozens of purchases over the past couple of years we’ve only had trouble redeeming them twice.

Company Out of Business

A year or so ago I bought a coupon from Living Social that was good for four movie tickets for the price of two.  They didn’t have to be used at one time so we used half for one outing and were saving the other two tickets to use the next month.

When I tried to access Weeklycinema.com later, it had a message they were out of business (or words to that effect) and to contact the original vendor.  I contacted Living Social who promptly refunded the full purchase price and gave me a $5 credit for future use.

Company Not Responding

A few months ago I bought a voucher from a local group buying company, the Daily Save, for window cleaning.  We called Coastal Window Washing shortly after the purchase and scheduled an appointment which was almost two months out.

We were suspicious when they didn’t call to confirm and sure enough no one showed up on the scheduled date. We called more than once and left messages with no response.  It was time to go back to the original vendor.  I didn’t want to have to arrange invoice factoring services.

The Daily Save customer service staff promptly acknowledged they could no longer reach the company either and credited out account with the purchase amount plus another $20 for our trouble.  Not as good as a refund but suitable given the number of months that had passed.

———-$$$$$———-

My experience has been that the group buying sites are very quick to resolve any problems redeeming the vouchers or coupons.  Reputation is very important to their business model and they’ll eat the loss rather than take a chance customers will lose confidence with them.

There are other reasons you might choose not to take advantage of group buying, but concern about losing your investment shouldn’t be one.  Now, excuse me while I go schedule my car detailing with a voucher!

Have you had a problem redeeming group buying vouchers?

photo: Some rights reserved by Groupon

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Bryan July 25, 2011 at 9:18 am

I also purchased a coupon through the Daily Save and had a similar experience. I called the company to schedule the service (it was a spa service for my wife), and somebody picked up the phone. The problem was that it was still a spa, but it wasn’t the same spa that we had bought the coupon for! Some new business must have moved in and kept everything (including the phone number) the same.

The Daily Save quickly offered me a credit as a refund once I contacted them, so it all worked out.

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jana July 25, 2011 at 9:58 am

I’ve only bought a few, mainly movie tickets for Fandango, and so far I haven’t had a problem. Then again, I haven’t tried to redeem them yet, either. I’m hoping that I won’t have any problems!

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Crystal @ Travel Insurance Comparison July 25, 2011 at 12:42 pm

We had a couple of Restaurant.com coupons that weren’t accepted and they refunded our purchase amount too. It’s good to know the other sites will do that.

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Suba July 25, 2011 at 3:54 pm

So far we didn’t have to ask for a refund, but from what I read almost all these places will refund the money without giving a grief. But I didn’t know anyone who had personal experience. It is good to know that they stand by their policy.

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Amanda L. Grossman July 25, 2011 at 4:35 pm

That is great to know because I use these sites all the time. Unfortunately, I let one coupon expired and asked for a refund (I believe it was Living Social), but I didn’t hear anything back from them. I know it was my fault, but I figured I would try anyway–just weird that they didn’t respond at all.

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Jackie July 25, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Believe it or not I’ve never tried a group-buying site. Sounds like you’ve had a good experience overall though.

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Squirrelers July 25, 2011 at 11:20 pm

I’ve used a groupon-type purchases a few times and had good experiences. Recently, I bought one for a retailer, and it worked out ok – but not without some hassles. I had brought some things to the register, and they pulled out 2 things that apparently didn’t qualify. I took the printout, and there was absolutely no exclusions that I could directly see in the fine print. It was odd. So, I had to go back to it find additional merchandise that would reach the minimum purchase associated with the coupon I’d bought.

Overall, it ended up being more of a hassle than advertised, but I did get a good deal on some things so all is well that ends well in this particular case. I realize that this might not have been the assesment of other less lenient consumers:)

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Little House July 26, 2011 at 7:11 am

I still haven’t tried using a group coupon. However, I can see where there might be times when I would. It’s good to know that if the vendor goes out of business or can’t fulfill a request, the groupon company will refund most of your money.

I read a story a while back that businesses who accept these group coupons sometimes underestimate how much extra business they’ll receive and often can’t fulfill their end of the bargain. I wonder if that was going on with your window washers.

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Jon - Free Money Wisdom July 26, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Groupons and other websites like that one have saved my girlfriend and I tons of money. We love to go out to eat when we’re able to see one another and so it is a great way to save on something we love to do. I have also found some cool activities through these bargain websites for half the original price. Thankfully, I have a girlfriend who is a Frugalista and doesn’t find my quirky tactics cheap…

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SB @ One Cent At A Time July 26, 2011 at 9:44 pm

I have had two for one fandango voucher couple of months back from LS, which is still sitting. good to know they refund

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Daniel July 28, 2011 at 7:59 am

I’ve never had an issue but if I did, I’d be PISSED! I’d definitely demand a refund to my card instead of my account.

It makes you think: Did the social buying site cause them to lose money? It happens to a lot of small businesses. Maybe it put them out of work?

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