The daily deal website Groupon was the subject of 140 consumer complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaints between July 2011 and May 2012. The documents released to MuckRock include allegations of false advertising, spam emails and unresponsive customer service by the company.
Of the 425 pages of available records, 28 pages were withheld because they remain part of law enforcement investigations. The FTC stated the remaining had not necessarily been verified.
Twenty-three complaints allege false advertising on Groupon deals, including one submission from Eagle, Idaho that said the actual discount was not as large as promised in the offer.
“[Groupon] advertised tickets regularly priced at $13.00 for sale on their website for $7.00,” the complaint reads. “The actual original price of the tickets is 10.00. [Groupon] is advertising a larger savings.”
Another complaint from Henderson, Nev. similarly stated that a Groupon deal did not offer any real savings as advertised.
“Groupon sent out an email in which they offered us, the consumers, to buy tickets at Nevada Wild Fest in Henderson, Nev. for $9 person,” the complainant wrote. “They claimed that the price is normally $18 person and indicated a 50 [percent] savings. If you look at Nevada Wild Fest homepage, you’ll see that the ticket price is only $9 a person. I feel this was a scam to entice people.”
“The company’s return policy reads, ‘if your Groupon experience ever lets you down, let us know and we’ll refund your purchase. Period,’” stated another from Chapel Hill, N.C. “I have requested a refund. The company has explicitly denied the refund.”
More than 40 complaints accuse Groupon of failing to remove users from its email list when requested. Federal regulations such as the CAN-SPAM Act mandate that users have an easy way to opt out of commercial messages. The Bureau of Consumer Protection states that each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $16,000. “Groupon has spammed me relentlessly for the last six months in my inbox, refusing to remove me from their distribution lists,” one complaint from San Francisco read. “I’ve clicked on unsubscribe links, it never works.” Many others said that they had attempted to unsubscribe multiple times with no results. One submission from Fayatteville, Ark. told of unsubscribing “a dozen or more times” but still receiving Groupon’s discount offer emails “a couple of times a week.” Other allegations lodged against Groupon in the complaints centered around deals that quickly expired, offers that were revised after purchase and Groupon contracts with businesses that were not paid in full. Read the documents [here](https://d3gn0r3afghep.cloudfront.net/foia_documents/FOIA-2012-00857-email.pdf). --- *Image via [Wikimedia Commons](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Groupon_Logo.svg)*