Daily deal offers may not be as good as they seem
Susan Kim, Stephanie Graham
These kinds of deals are hard to resist. That's exactly how bachelor Jay Johnson felt when he saw an offer for some house-cleaning help. He thought he was cleaning up with an amazing coupon. But the problem? He recalls, "I went to try and schedule the cleanings by calling the vendor and the cleaning company never called me back."
So he phoned the daily deal company that sent him the offer he purchased, but they sent him back to the cleaning company. Again, no response, and as time passed and more dust accumulated, the voucher eventually expired.
"You pay for the service and you put effort into calling and to try to chase someone down. As time goes on it gets frustrating," Johnson says.
The number of frustrated daily deal consumers is growing! A multi-million dollar class action suit claims one company sold deals that expired in an 'unreasonably short period of time'. Meantime, Better Business Bureau records reveal more than 2,000 consumer complaints against major daily deal companies, a majority of them filed this past year.
The BBB blames the popularity of the offers combined with overwhelmed businesses.
Carrie Hurt is CEO of the Better Business Bureau. She says, "Consumers have been so quick to take advantage of those opportunities especially with the service industry that that small company couldn't keep up with the volume."
The daily deal industry says they hear the complaints, and things are changing.
Bonnie Carlson is with the Brand Activation Association. She adds, "The daily deal sites now have learned from this problem and are creating schedulers who work with that service establishment and create a process of how many deals, how many redemptions they can take per day so they're not overwhelmed."
The association says daily deals are still a win-win for customers.
"Consumers get a great deal and it gives them a chance to try something new," Carlson says.
If you're thinking of buying a deal, the association says you should:
-Read terms and conditions of each offer carefully
-Plan to use the vouchers reasonably soon.
Experts say if you think you got duped, contact the site that sold you the coupon and ask for your money back. Jay and his dust bunnies are still waiting for the cleaning company and the daily deal site to call him back. "I don't think that I would buy one of these online deals from a vendor I'm not already familiar with."
Again, there are many happy customers. Jay was not one of them. The daily deal site he used eventually refunded the amount he paid for the offer. The site says it will always refund the price consumers paid for a voucher if a business closes, an event is cancelled or if a company refuses to accept a coupon.