Hey Groupon, what happened to my laptop computer?


After Jennifer Poff pays Groupon $125 for a laptop computer, it doesn’t deliver. But Groupon insists the laptop was shipped and won’t respond to her requests to send the laptop or refund the money.

Question: I recently bought an HP laptop on Groupon. I never got it.

Now Groupon won’t answer my emails or phone calls. When I visit the site, they only show a new icon where I can buy a more expensive computer than I bought because they don’t have the product. Also, I just learned that there’s a third party involved in the transaction.

I want the HP laptop or the refund. This is crazy. I am a single mother of three who bought this laptop for my daughter’s 16th birthday. She cried because they never sent it after Groupon said it was shipped and delivered. Which was a lie. They never had the product in the first place. Can you help me get my $125 back? — Jennifer Poff, Eads, Tenn.

Answer: Either Groupon, HP, or the mysterious third party should have sent you the laptop, as promised. And when they didn’t, Groupon should have either refunded your purchase or sent you the computer.

This runaround reminds me of last week’s Groupon case. It might as well be the same story; just substitute a laptop for a hotel room.


It doesn’t really matter who “handled” this transaction. Groupon took your money and should also take responsibility for delivering the computer. A business, no matter how big, needs to offer a way for customers to contact it. And Groupon is huge. No excuse, though.

It also doesn’t matter who you are — a single mom, a combat-wounded veteran or a retiree on a fixed income. No one should be treated this way. Ever.

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I offer the names, numbers and addresses for Groupon and its executives on my customer service site. So if they send you to a screen that asks you to buy another computer, that’s who to contact.

You showed me the screenshots of your interactions with Groupon, and they’re maddening. Maybe Groupon is testing a new way to handle complaints. If it is, I think the test failed.

I’d like to write off a second Groupon case in a week as a coincidence. But sometimes, companies make cutbacks in their customer service department, which has immediate repercussions. If the number of Groupon cases continues to increase, I’ll be here to report it and to sound the alarms.

I contacted Groupon on your behalf. It refunded the $125 and offered a gift certificate by way of an apology.


Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org.

  • Nathan Witt

    I think this sort of thing happens with larger online sellers because of inventory and price controls. Twice, something similar has happened to me with Amazon, once where they canceled the order and once where they insisted that I had canceled the order, and in both circumstances, the product was mysteriously unavailable for the agreed upon price afterward. Claiming to have shipped the product and refusing to communicate with the customer is pretty shady, though, especially if the seller won’t provide a tracking number and proof of delivery.

  • sirwired

    As a somewhat related side-note, mis-deliveries do happen. (No idea if the package was lost, stolen, or never shipped here.) I have signed up with all three major package services to get notifications (e-mails/texts/phone notifications) when I have a package on the way. (They just key on your name and address.)

    As a bonus feature, the USPS has upgraded their system so in most cities you can ALSO get pictures of every piece of letter-type mail you are going to receive (even your junk mail.)

    It’s a lot more convenient than keeping tabs on shipping notifications and tracking your package manually every day.

  • Bill___A

    I think it is quite unrealistic t expect a laptop for that price, and I notice they opted to return the money rather than come up with a laptop. If there were a laptop at that price, it is not going to be a good one I don’t think.

  • EvilEmpryss

    Why is the assumption that Groupon never shipped the item when they have it marked as ‘shipped’?

    I smell a delivery thief in this mix. I’ve had that problem before, when someone steals packages off my porch or — even worse — the delivery person themselves steals the package. I find very few companies who will work with me if the delivery is marked as “delivered” because they feel that they have done their job and they don’t want to get involved in fight with the delivery people over a missing delivery here and there.

  • Steve Rabin

    Then wouldn’t this be a bait and switch?

  • jae1

    We had one instance of probable delivery theft with an Amazon shipment. They promptly shipped another of the same item, at no charge to us. Granted, it was a relatively inexpensive item, but they certainly gave us no difficulty with it. By contrast, I purchased a used tablet through a third-party site from an individual. He shipped it UPS ground, with a guaranteed delivery date. The delivery tracking was never updated properly from the outset, the date kept changing. UPS declared it missing. As soon as all the paperwork and proof of value had been submitted, lo, it turned up. When finally delivered the box had clearly been opened somewhere along the line, in terrible shape, and missing all the padding that the shipper had put in it. I’m pretty convinced that someone at UPS had set it aside to go “missing,” and eventually realized it wasn’t going to work, so put it back in the delivery stream. All by way of saying, delivery theft seems to be a more common problem than people realize.

  • jae1

    Groupon offers older refurbished computers very cheaply from third-party vendors. The lowest end ones sell out quickly. It’s not necessarily a bait and switch on their part. They could truly have had a very small stock of the model the OP purchased, but when they’re gone, they’re gone. When it comes to Groupon Goods, Groupon itself is rarely if ever the vendor, but merely the sales outlet.

  • Dutchess

    Hardly unrealistic. These companies buy up old stock and refurbished laptops for nothing and then resell them. I needed a windows laptop for my new sewing machine, had to be windows because of the software, I bought a brand new HP something for $299 on a black friday sale. We don’t know the specs on this machine but it was likely an older refurbished machine that would be just fine for web surfing and doing homework on office online.

    Just because it seems “unrealistic” that doesn’t mean groupon doesn’t need to honor the deals it promotes.

  • gpx21dlr

    I had a similar experience with Newegg. I purchased a Logitech keyboard for $15, never received it. Newegg said it was shipped by another vendor and to contact THAT vendor. The vendor said it was shipped. Well, I ended up buying a keyboard at Office Depot for $30. Tricky, sneaky or business as usual?

  • Noah Kimmel

    I think more commonly now is that merchants are acting like OTAs – Amazon is just the portal, not the actual seller or shipper, same with Groupon. They provide a web url, page templates, payment services, and customer eyeballs. Unfortunately, since much of this is automated, and the sellers are smaller, we see more problems and a confusing path to issue resolution.

  • Noah Kimmel

    I think people also attribute mistakes to malice.

    UPS Chicago alone handles 1.5 million packages per day, and that isn’t their largest operation. Worldport handles over 400,000 packages an hour!

    With so many boxes flowing through the system on different belts with different people being passed between stations, it is not surprising that occasionally some damage happens, a barcode is mixed up or scratched off, or other. Not saying theft doesn’t occur, or there aren’t bad actors because of course there are, but sometimes you are the 0.000001% that has legitimate mistakes or mishandling.

  • joycexyz

    Shame on Newegg! If they took the money, they are responsible. Another name on my blacklist.

  • RightNow9435

    definitely a chargeback was called for w/your credit card company

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