A few months ago, my sister was sitting in front of her computer when she let out a frustrated scream. “I have unsubscribed to this so many times already! Why are they still sending me mails?”
The ‘them’ in question was Groupon South Africa. Incidentally, I had been having the same problem with the company. Frankly, I can’t even remember ever signing up to receive their mails in the first place (I must have, though, but I’ve been receiving it for such a long time, I can’t even remember when I subscribed). I have since learned to simply delete their mail or “mark as read” in my inbox and go about the rest of my day.
But then, a few weeks ago, I read that Groupon had launched a BlackBerry app. And I saw a deal that I actually liked and wanted (50% off the annual subscription price to one of my favourite magazines). I decided to forgive the company for their years of spamming, to download the app and use it to buy the deal. Also, rather handily, I further justified the purchase knowing that I could write about the experience for work.
So I downloaded the app, bought and paid for the deal, and – still on a bit of a high following this unexpected spot of mobile retail therapy – I gave the Groupon app a glowing review. Right here, on this very website.
Today, I am officially retracting that review. Turns out I was premature in showering the app with praise. Well, to be fair, the APP functions as it promises it would. Unfortunately, it relies on the company to provide a service, and they seem to be downright lax on that front.
Here’s what happened: When I bought the subscription, I immediately paid via EFT. After the deal closed, I waited for some notification from the company. I’m a first-time user and, when I received no mail (oh, the irony!), I consulted the FAQ’s on the company’s website, which urges you to wait for at least 24 hours for the deal to reflect in your account. 24 Hours later, when my account still said that I didn’t have any deals, I sent them a query.
A whole three days later, I received a response saying I needed to send them proof of payment. (Didn’t know why this was really necessary, considering that I used a reference number when I paid, but never mind.) The following day, I sent a screen shot of my proof of payment and then received an e-mail saying I had lost the deal due to the fact that I had not submitted my proof of payment within five days of buying the deal. They told me to submit proof of payment (again? Really?), my banking details and then I will be reimbursed.
This was about two weeks ago. I have since written two e-mails, asking how they can take three business days to respond to a mail and then penalise buyers for being late in providing proof of payment. To this moment, my e-mails have remained unanswered.
Turns out, I’m not the only one with a Groupon gripe. Apparently many South African consumers have already lodged complaints against the company for not sticking to their end of the bargain, for not providing the promised products and services that buyers have paid for, and – scarily – for not reimbursing customers when they don’t deliver. (As in my case.) I’ve since reluctantly accepted that I will not get the magazine subscription. Now it seems that I can’t even be guaranteed of getting my money back!
Needless to say, I will keep you posted. Until then, as yet another unhappy customer, I’m issuing a very clear and loud warning to everyone to stay well clear of Groupon South Africa.
And no, we still can’t figure out how to stop receiving mails from them. Unsubscribing via the link on the mailer just doesn’t seem to cut it. If you REALLY don't want to hear from them though, try sending them a query about getting your money back, getting your deal delivered, or the like. Then they suddenly get very coy and so quiet, you can actually hear the crickets chirping in the Northern Hemisphere.