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Sharing Spree Leaves Customers, Non-Profits Frustrated

Sharing Spree Leaves Customers, Non-Profits Frustrated

CREATED Apr 8, 2013

by Jennifer Kraus
Consumer Investigator

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The online website Sharing Spree promised great deals for shoppers, more customers for businesses and easy money for local charities.

But a NewsChannel 5 investigation discovered the company seems to be having trouble lately keeping those promises. 

This isn't the first time that NewsChannel 5 Investigates has looked into complaints against Sharing Spree. This time, however, the latest problems seem to be bigger and more serious.

"I love a good deal," said Carleigh Holley.

Holley told NewsChannel 5 Investigates that she thought $39 for a hair straightener was a great deal.

Instead, the deal offered in February on the website Sharing Spree turned out to be a dud. Sharing Spree charged Holley for the straightener, but she never got it. 

"I've sent emails, probably 25 emails," Holley explained.

And the company has not responded. 

NewsChannel 5 Investigates discovered that Sharing Spree seems to be having even bigger problems that likely started months ago.

The PTO at Eakin Elementary School near Hillsboro Village is one of several non-profit groups in the Nashville area that were supposed to get money from Sharing Spree last fall and are still waiting for it.

Anna Thorsen heads up the PTO's fundraising efforts.

"They said they knew how hard it is, especially for elementary schools to raise money and they said that we would be paired up with a local business and all we would have to do is send out some fliers and some emails and then we would receive back 10% of the money they raised," Thorsen recalled. 

Thorsen said that Eakin was expecting to receive close to $1,500 from three separate deals.

"It is a lot for a school and so we were really excited," she said.

Sharing Spree has long promoted that it gives a portion of its profits from its daily deals to charity. On its website, it claims to have raised nearly $400,000 for non-profit groups.

But in Nashville, Books from Birth, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Eakin are among those that still have not received the money they were promised.

Eakin's PTO was going to use its money to pay for a math program for struggling students and new mulch for their playground.

"We planned on the money coming in and it didn't -- so that puts us in a hard position at the end of the year," Thorsen explained.

This isn't the first time Sharing Spree has had problems.

Almost two years ago, NewsChannel 5 Investigates exposed how the company had sold more than 1,800 vacation deals that customers discovered the merchant was unwilling to honor.

Sharing Spree then refused to refund customers' money until we started asking questions. 

What has happened to Sharing Spree lately isn't clear. The website has not had a new daily deal in weeks, and customers in other Sharing Spree cities have said they are having problems too.

Sharing Spree's founder and owner Ron Sapp did not return NewsChannel 5's calls or emails.

But he responded to an email from Eakin's Thorsen last week saying, "We are aware of this situation and are working on issues." He then seemed to blame the company's latest problems on "market conditions, (the) economy, and other competition factors."

"I was not very impressed with his response," Thorsen told NewsChannel 5 Investigates

She said that parents and teachers at Eakin worked hard to support Sharing Spree and bought many of its deals thinking they'd be helping their kids, making what's happened now all the more disappointing.

"It affects our kids and our teachers. You know, we count on this money," Thorsen said. 

And while Carleigh Holley was disappointed that she never got her new hair straightener, she was even more disappointed that Sharing Spree let so many people down.

"It's one thing for me to be without my money. But, to promise organizations that do good things for our city and not deliver them, that's taking it to a whole new level," Holley said. 

While customers like Carleigh Holley didn't get products they bought like hair straighteners, NewsChannel 5 also heard from people who spent a lot more money buying vacation deals through Sharing Spree that they have not been able to use.

That's because, according to the hotels, Sharing Spree never paid them.

NewsChannel 5 also tried contacting the company through its customer service number, but no one answers that line. For days now, the recording has said the mailbox is full.

There is, however, a little good news for Eakin's PTO.

One of the Sharing Spree deals they were supposed to get money from was a deal for Cori's Hot Dogs. When we contacted the owner of Cori's about this story, he said he was shocked to hear that Sharing Spree had never paid Eakin.

He told NewsChannel 5 Investigates that he would make a donation to the school's PTO himself.