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When a Groupon Deal Goes Sour

Generally, I'm a fan of Groupon. I've used the service (and it's main competitor, Living Social) to purchase well over a dozen deal vouchers since I discovered the sites about a year ago. Until recently, each of those purchases went without a hitch. Last month, I purchased the FTD Valentine's flower Groupon and had my first taste of what happens when a Groupon deal goes bad.

(from Jeff Tabaco on Flickr)

The flower "deal" was bad news from the beginning, when FTD tried to charge inflated prices to customers who purchased the Groupon, thinking, apparently, that nobody would notice. But people did notice, and they were not happy about it. Eventually, FTD and Groupon came to some sort of agreement where FTD would refund the difference of the inflated prices that voucher customers purchased.

Knowing that my girlfriend isn't a huge fan of cut flowers, I instead ordered a rose plant to be delivered to her office on Valentine's Day. At least, with a potted plant, she'd be able to enjoy it for more than a week or so.

FTD delivered a sick-looking plant, shipped via UPS from Georgia to Ohio, that was dead within the week. I reached out to FTD, citing their "7 Day Satisfaction Guarantee". Their automated email system said they try to respond to correspondences within 24 hours. Two weeks later and I haven't heard a word. My girlfriend sent a similar complaint, citing disappointment with the rose plant. Again, no response from FTD.

In an effort of last-resort, I reached out to Groupon to let them know what happened. They issued a refund for my Groupon the same day. While the situation was ultimately resolved, I'm disappointed that it had to come to that.

Based on my experience, I can surmise that one of two things happened. Either 1) FTD is a truly incompetent company that simply can't handle the business that it gets, or 2) FTD regrets partnering with Groupon and treats the customers who used vouchers differently (ie. worse) than customers who paid with cash. Whichever the case, FTD will never heard a positive word spoken about them from me.

For some businesses, it simply doesn't make sense to partner with Groupon, I get that. Somebody has to pay so that customers can get good deals, and often, that's the business itself. But if a business does decide to go through with it, it's not wise to start treating those with vouchers as second-class customers, and it's certainly not good for Groupon when that happens, either.

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