Maybe this Groupon deal wasn’t a deal after all

auremar/Shutterstock
auremar/Shutterstock
Groupon is a bargain website that promises daily deals and “unbelievable” customer service. But Stuart Lord says he got neither when he bought a VIP wine package in California’s Sonoma Valley — a deal he later discovered was significantly overpriced.

Here are the specifics: The offer was for two people for two nights at the Sonoma Valley Inn and two “VIP” wine tastings. Total price: $169.

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“The advertisement said it was worth $320 — a 47 percent discount,” he remembers.

Only, it wasn’t.

“When I used this Groupon to book the room for late January, however, I discovered that the hotel’s rate was $89 per night and that, had I used my AAA discount, it would have been $83 per night,” he says. “To add insult to deception, a few weeks later, Groupon sent me an offer for the same room at $59.”

And the wine tasting tour? It didn’t measure up, either. “It turned out to be little more than regular wine tastings, which often were comped if one bought wine or found one of the many discounts in many of the local tourist magazines,” says Lord.

Did Groupon overpromise?

Even though I haven’t purchased anything on Groupon, other members of my household have. Their experiences have been largely positive, so I assumed that when Lord followed up with the company, it would find a way to address his concerns.

It did — but not to his satisfaction. When he sent it a brief, polite email questioning the price, here’s the reply:

Sorry for any confusion. It is never our intention to mislead anyone about the value of a Groupon.

The value and discount percentage listed on each deal reflect the regular full price for that product or service. If the business offers other temporary discounts or decides to change their standard pricing after their deal is featured, the relative savings and value might change.

Unfortunately, we cannot foresee or control these changes. That said, we work very hard to make sure that the deals we feature are the best in town.

I wasn’t happy with that answer either because it failed to address two key problems. First, the fact that the room at the Sonoma Valley Inn appeared to be “discounted” from its rack rate, or list price, which made the discount look significantly higher than it was; and second, the fact that the VIP wine tasting was more or less worthless.

Groupon responds

I thought Groupon could do better than the form response, so I asked. Here’s the detailed explanation:

As I’m sure you’re aware, travel industry pricing can fluctuate based on a variety of factors, including time of year, level of availability, day of the week, etc.

We work very closely with vendors at the time the deal is created to ensure we are working with the most accurate rates and bringing the best discount possible to our customers.

The first deal in question was offered in November for a travel window of November through February. The second deal was offered in December for a travel window of January through April.

Regular un-discounted pricing, particularly for rooms booked in the time period of the second deal, varied by more than $100 depending on options selected. It is worth noting that the merchant sets the average discount across the travel window so some nights might have a 50 percent discount while others might have a 30 percent discount, and that’s the nature of the industry.

Our platform complements the merchant’s established pricing by allowing the merchant to often offer a better discount than would normally be possible, but in the end, it is the merchant that sets the advertised price versus what they can charge per room.

We do our best to ensure to our customers that the pricing established by the merchant is accurate and we’re confident we’re still providing enormous value to our subscribers.

It’s also worth noting that we do not value room nights and deals relative to AAA rates, since AAA requires an exclusive membership.

OK, that’s better, but not exactly reassuring. It appears Groupon is giving its “merchants” the ability to play pricing games with discounts which may or may not amount to real savings, and without any accountability. Lord was hoping Groupon would say, “You’re right, this isn’t a real deal,” and offer some money back or a credit.

I don’t know if I would have pushed for that. After all, pricing in the hotel industry can be mercurial. But it would have been nice for Groupon to take a little more responsibility for a deal that wasn’t really much of a deal, at least as far as this customer was concerned.

Did Stuart Lord get a deal from Groupon?

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68 thoughts on “Maybe this Groupon deal wasn’t a deal after all

  1. OMG – really? Has this guy ever bought anything at retail? How many stores tell you that you are saving’70%’ off their retail price, but no one has ever paid retail for the item! So the hotel’s rack rate is a staggering $160 a night but no one has ever paid that price – ever – even during wine weekends.

    I’ve bought a few things from Group-on – travel is not one of them. So the guy over paid by??? He could have bought the room for $83 plus tax or $166 he paid $169 – and since Groupons include the room and accommodations tax – he still saved a few dollars. I personally would not stay in an $83 a night room in the Sonoma Valley – but – at least this was not a complaint about bedbugs

    1. Actually there are some good prices on the off season in the Sonoma Valley at some decent hotels. You don’t have to pay the arm and leg prices that many tourists pay to enjoy the Sonoma County wine country.

  2. I wasn’t aware that Groupon has a policy that says that once you’ve viewed a hotel offer you must purchase it without comparing the hotel’s other available rates.

    1. Not only this but Groupon gives you a 7 day return window from the date of purchase- no questions asked. So even if Mr Lord felt some kind of magnetic impulse to purchase *right this minute* he could have still done the research and requested the refund.

      I have purchased many deals from Groupon and while some deals were better than others, I have never had an issue with its customer service.

  3. People who don’t shop don’t know how these things work. You have to know your pricing, your seasons and what day you find prices lower than other. Just because you find it online doesn’t make it a good deal!

  4. He got exactly what he paid for. Its commonplace for discounts to be exaggerated. Like Joe said, the discount is from the rack rate that no one pays. But that’s standard within the entirety of retail. Not to know that is really the OPs fault. Its like when a salesman states that “such and such” is the best deal around. No one expects that to be literally true.

  5. Buyer beware. Any offer is a good deal if you think it is and are willing to accept the offer. Don’t complain afterwards if you didn’t do even the minimal work to verify the true value of the deal before the purchase. Groupon does have some great deals, but I have passed on some that I thought were overstated on the discount and true value.

  6. Groupon and the retailer split the revenue, so the retailer is really selling it for 25% of the listed “normal” retail price. Of course the value of these packages are going to be exaggerated which is why you should avoid services on Groupon like house cleaning, massages, wine tasting events, etc. Or at least take the “normal” retail price with a grain of salt.

  7. Sounds like Stuart didn’t do his research when he bought the groupon and is now griping about it after the fact. Seems to me all the prices were discoverable at the time he bought the groupon, a little bit of research could have prevented this.

    The retail value likely includes the rack rate or full priced hotel rate which hotels almost never charge. So the pricing was probably legit based on that.

    I say Stuart got what he paid for, it just wasn’t the value he hoped for.

  8. Is Lord comparing apples with oranges? The Groupon Getaways with Expedia deal features $169 for a two-night stay for two in a garden fireplace double queen room with a VIP wine tasting for two.

    Look at the hotel website for AAA deals for the same room type in January and you will see the lowest rate of $116.99 *per night*.

    There are cheaper rooms but not this double queen with a fireplace. IMO, the deal is quite good.

    1. Yeah, exactly. He actually got a good deal.

      i’ve used Groupon a couple of times for goods (not services). One time, a product arrived somewhat defective. I called Groupon, they were as nice as could be, sent me a pre-paid return label and refunded me right away.

      Had some issues with their site not accepting my credit card just the other day and when I called them, they fixed the situation immediately and couldn’t have been nicer about it.

      In this case, the OP should have known enough that when he saw this travel deal advertised, to check out the hotel’s web site and find out what it would cost for the identical trip at the identical time if he booked directly through them. He’s web savvy enough to have been able to make a purchase through Groupon, so he’s savvy enough to have done 5 minutes worth of research on the hotel site. Besides which, comparing what he spent for what he got with what it would have cost him if he bought it directly and used a AAA discount, he didn’t lose any money. So this is a pointless claim. This is a “oops, I’m embarrassed and should have realized this beforehand, so I’m going to try to turn this around and blame someone else” claim.

  9. This was deceptive – groupon offered off season rates but compared them to season rates. That’s not only morally wrong but against the law. I suggest the Stuart contact the FTC.

    While he could have avoided this by doing research, that does not excuse illegal marketing strategy.

    EDIT: BTW, I think it’s hysterically funny I’m getting down voted for siding with consumer rights law on a consumer advocate site. I haven’t gotten this many down votes since I PO’d the breastfeeding crowd by daring to suggest they be considerate of other people.

          1. So what rate should they compare it to? Rack Rate is in effect the MSRP. Its the highest rate the hotel could charge. Everything else is a “deal.” Why would you ever compare one deal to another? No other business is required to do that even ones that never sell at MSRP.

          2. Are you also upset about the MSRP on automobiles? There’s always some arbitrary “full price” that is virtually never actually paid.

          3. So I took a quick class at the URL you posted. Your statements are contrary to the black letter law.

            THe FTC site specifically states that the fact that no sales occured does not necessarily break the law. What is relevant is that the price is indeed offered regularly offered to the public during the course of business.

            To quote

            “b) A former price is not necessarily fictitious merely because no sales at the advertised price were made. …that the price is one at which the product was openly and actively offered for sale, for a reasonably substantial period of time, in the recent, regular course of his business, honestly and in good faith”

          4. Really? there’s more to the law than just the paragraph you’ve stated. OK then, I offer my spare room for $1M a night. I’ll wait a week, then drop the price to $100 a night. Now, I’ve offered the $1M a night in good faith. No one (I hope) would be insane enough to pay it so my room was unused. Does that mean I can advertise the room as “discounted” at whatever % $100 is of $1M? No, because comparable rooms like mine don’t go for nearly $1M a night in the area. Or any other, most likely.

            (If anyone does want to pay $1M to stay in my spare room, please contact me immediately. We can work something out).

            Though I’ve backed off the “flat illegal” of it (see comments further down) this type of comparison pricing is dicey at best. the last few sentances of the guidance says it best: “In all of these situations, as well as in others too numerous to mention,
            advertisers should make certain that the bargain offer is genuine and truthful. Doing so
            will serve their own interest as well as that of the public.”

          5. That wouldn’t be “honestly and in good faith.” That’s the difference; your example is purposely deceptive.

          6. My example is purposely exaggerated. But you can bet if some sucker offered me that amount to stay there, they could. That’s an honest and good faith offer. But if it makes you uncomfortable, let’s lower that price to $200 a night. Again, no one would (or should) take me up on this. But then, could I advertise my room for a half off special? Nope, because I jacked up the price just so I could lower it. Also a no-no.

            So what do you do when a hotel price goes up and down like a yo-yo in a matter of hours?

            Really, the ultimate question here is what “baseline” price could a hotel or groupon reasonably use to compare discounted rates since there really doesn’t seem to be a useful or apparent measure. The hotel industry appears to charge whatever the market will bear, kind of like an auction for rooms. I’ve suggested average price for the season but there may be other measures.

      1. Section 5 of the FTC act. It declares unfair or deceptive acts or practices unlawful. The case described was deceptive since it compared high season rates to low season rates.

        This is business law 101 stuff.

        1. No they didn’t. High season rack rates are at least double if not trip what the low season rates are. Any time you buy something ‘on sale’ you need to know what the price that items sell for when not discounted to know if your ‘deal’ is good or not. Hotel prices, like airfare pricing, is like the stock market. You need to know what the lowest price at the time you book to know if you are getting a good deal from another vendor other than with the the company directly, If all discount prices were sold out on the days the OP wanted to stay, his coupon would have been a better deal. THAT is the change you take in buying it. Don’t play the game if you don’t understand the rules!

          1. As I noted, Stuart could have avoided this doing research. But it is absolutely illegal to to claim he is saving against the high season price when the deal was only good for the low season. When I poked around on to hotels website they were offering rooms for around $150 for the low season for the same number of nights/people.

            You should be able to trust that if an ad says the rate is x% off that they’re comparing it to the rates from that time period.

            I’ve poked around groupons website and they seem to do this quite a bit.

          2. Where am I missing the ‘high season’ being mentioned in the article by Chris? High season rates are 2-3 times higher than low season rates.

          3. I’m making a reasonable assumption based on the discount mentioned. If you look at regular low season rates (not AAA discount, that’s irrelevant to the ad) they’re about half of high season rates. Nowhere in the low season could I find a room for 2 for 2 nights for anywhere approaching $320, the rate groupon stated in the ad as the comparison price. Now it’s either rack rate (which is even worse since no one pays that) or high season rate. Either way, its deceptive.

          4. At the time of the offer, the hotel based the rates from. These are always subject to change and that is what the OP needed to pay attention to. There is no bait and switch, no false advertising. Hotel rates, even rack rates can change daily. On FB, someone posted a great rate at a hotel in our area that Travel Zoo was offering. Everyone was so excited, yet, if you went to the hotels website, it is their regular off season rate obtainable there, in my GDS and with other vendors, too.

            This isn’t rocket science or deceptive. It is marketing and you have to know your prices at the time you make this purchase to what the current pricing is which is only based on availability for the date parameters the offer is good for and then get it booked, as those prices could and most likely will change.

          5. Im aware of how hotels price rooms. I’ve looked at the hotels website. At no date could I find a room rate even close to $320 for 2 nights for 2 people. Best I could find was $220. I agree, and have agreed from the outset, that this would,have been easy for the consumer to discover. But that doesn’t excuse the practice.

            Offering a “discount” for rates that don’t exist is flat out illegal. If I rent my spare room out (I live in a tourist area) for $100 a week but claim its a discount from $500 a week – which I’ve never charged nor is it the going rate for the area for comparable rooms – that’s not legal. And that’s not my opinion, that’s the law. I didn’t make it. If anyone disagrees with it, take it up with the FTC.

            Believe it or not, businesses have been fined for continually having “sales” or offering “discounts” from MSRP that no one has paid. There is a way to advertise from MSRP that is legal and the link I posted below details how.

            This practice has exploded in the last 5 years or so with the Internet, as you noted. Still doesn’t make it right.

            As a side note, countries like china and Australia have similar laws, so this isn’t just a US thing.

          6. There is NOTHING wrong here. I found rack rates that exceed $320, plus tax for next weekend at that hotel, so not sure what you are looking at. At the time of the offer, the hotel used their rack rates to come up with the savings. Now if will depend on when the coupon is going to be used as to if the savings would be that exact amount as prices change daily and that is the nature of the industry. Grocery stores change their pricing daily so that $3 off coupon might get you that product for $2 with the coupon today but it might be free tomorrow when the product gets marked down tonight. It all depends on when you go to use the coupon as to the actual savings. He just happened picked a date when there were better rates available. I have sold hotel rooms for 3 decades, I understand. I often book and rebook based on the ups and downs of hotels daily pricing.

          7. That’s odd. I just checked the rates for Mar 10-11 (9 was sold out) on the hotel website and the rate (plus tax) was $156.87. The 17-18(16 was sold out) was $212.90. Could that much change in 12 minutes? I don’t doubt what you say, I’m sure you saw what you say you saw, but I wonder if something else is going on (localized pricing, for example, or maybe we’re using different sites).

            I’m using the link in the article above.

          8. The rates I found were for two nights…sorry that I didn’t make that clearer. But yes, rates are based on availability and what was there 10 minutes ago can get sold and then show up later today if someone cancels that room rate. Rates can also get updated during the day. Same with airfares. I found flights for a client last week for yesterday were totally all sold out, but the next day, the flights all had space back in inventory. Timing is everything!

          9. Mine were too. I should have stated that better, that was my mistake. I just checked again and it was up to $313 for the 10th, staying 2 nights. I smell an algorithm at work here. Like you noted, the price is fluctuating with perceived demand (hits on the website for those dates). Again though, it makes discount comparisons dicey at best and a case can be made for illegality, though I believe it removes it from the “flat out illegal” category. If the rate fluctuates that much, how can the reasonable consumer know what constitutes a “fair” discount or not? That’s the heart of the FTCs law. It’d be interesting to see what they had to say in the matter.

            BTW, by the time I typed this it was up to $403. Yeah, they’re using an algorithm here.

    1. Dear technomage1,

      Please do not use OTA websites to do your hotel rate research.

      What you need is access to the hotel’s Best Available Rate (BAR) information.
      Unless you have a GDS, that is not easy to do.

      Anyway, I hope to shed light in these discussions by posting this hotel’s BAR below:

      JUNE 2013
      BW05461 BEST WESTERN PLUS SONOMA INN
      IN FRI 07JUN/OUT SUN 09JUN NBR PERSONS: 2
      BW BKG CODE: A2QRACA
      RATE: 339.99 USD PER NIGHT STARTING 07JUN FOR 2 NIGHTS
      679.98 USD TOTAL RATE STARTING 07JUN FOR 2 NIGHTS
      ROOM RATE DETAIL:
      2 PERCNT MISC PER NT BEG 07JUN FOR 2 NTS
      0.06 PERCNT MISC PER NT BEG 07JUN FOR 2 NTS
      10 PERCNT OCCUP TX PER NT BEG 07JUN FOR 2 NTS
      762.02 USD TOTAL AMOUNT OF STAY
      DESCRIPTION: BEST AVAILABLE RATE*NO RESTRICTIONS
      2 QUEEN BEDS NSMK FIREPL BALCNY WIFI NET
      REFRIG COFMK CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST

      DECEMBER 2013
      BW05461 BEST WESTERN PLUS SONOMA INN
      IN FRI 27DEC/OUT SUN 29DEC NBR PERSONS: 2
      BW BKG CODE: A2QRACA
      RATE: 149.99 USD PER NIGHT STARTING 27DEC FOR 2 NIGHTS
      299.98 USD TOTAL RATE STARTING 27DEC FOR 2 NIGHTS
      ROOM RATE DETAIL:
      2 PERCNT MISC PER NT BEG 27DEC FOR 2 NTS
      0.06 PERCNT MISC PER NT BEG 27DEC FOR 2 NTS
      10 PERCNT OCCUP TX PER NT BEG 27DEC FOR 2 NTS
      336.18 USD TOTAL AMOUNT OF STAY
      DESCRIPTION: BEST AVAILABLE RATE*NO RESTRICTIONS
      2 QUEEN BEDS NSMK FIREPL BALCNY WIFI NET
      REFRIG COFMK CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST

      The OP clearly got a good deal for $320 (2 nights, 2 Queen beds w/ fireplace with VIP wine tasting).

  10. One thing I find telling in Groupon’s response was how it never addressed the complaint about the “VIP” wine tasting being nothing more than the regular offering. Nothing VIP about it from the OP’s description.

    1. What would you have Groupon say? VIP is a completely subjective term. What’s VIP to me might be crap to you.

      1. What I would like to know is if the wine tasting was just the standard offering that was just relabeled as VIP or was there a special offering they were suppose to get but didn’t.

        1. Probably the former. To most people, labeling something as Deluxe, VIP, etc, implies that there is a standard, non-Deluxe, non-VIP, offering to measure these terms against. Unfortunately, that is not legally required.

          1. The former is what I expect too. While “legal”, not very ethical. Because they didn’t address that part, I do think they were just trying to “hype” up a standard feature.

  11. Ethically, a groupon deal is only barely a step above taking a fat-finger $7 first class fare from an airline. The vendor has agreed to be screwed by groupon, and you get to benefit. Congratulations. Good for you. Not so good when the small business is gone next month because they lost more than they could afford to give you that deal. Google for “why groupon is bad for business” if you want to read the horror stories.

    1. Maybe next time the business owners will just tell the Groupon salesperson “no” to avoid these terrible horror stories. (Are there like zombies and people getting their limbs hacked off and stuff?)

      1. I was going to respond to Tamara’s post, but your’s was better than anything I could come up with

    2. I don’t understand what is unethical about getting a deal from Groupon. The business owner agrees to put the deal out there. Groupon isn’t forcing themselves on anyone. Unless the price offered is a mistake, then it is a legitimate offer. Maybe the business owner should do their own research about whether putting a deal on Groupon would help our hurt their business. That’s like saying that you shouldn’t buy sale items, but wait for them to go to full price, because the consumer should make it their concern that if the owner puts something on sale, they will make less money off of that item, which will hurt their bottom line, so if you want that store to be around next month, don’t buy sale items.

    3. That’s ridiculous. A local business here (retail store) had a fire a while back and was closed for 7 months. They re-opened about 10 months ago but so many people started shopping elsewhere that the store simply never re-gained it’s customer base. That is, until they did a Groupon at 50% off a few months ago. One voucher per person – a $20 voucher for $40 worth of stuff – and you had to use the whole thing in one shot. It was a great deal for the customers and I spoke to the owner while I was using my voucher. He said that they did phenomenal business from it. And now they got not only their old customers back but they got a lot of new ones. In fact, they did so well that they are doing it again this week with a new voucher.

      What do you learn from this? The Groupon was a reasonably priced option for the store to get a lot of new business. And once people came in to the store, most of them will be repeat customers. The business is now thriving.

      So your post had absolutely no validity to it and was just bashing based on nothing.

  12. Another point, I imagine that the Groupon was inclusive of taxes and fees. .So for $169 (total) he got the room and the tasting. Had he used the discounted price ($89/night) I bet there was tax and fees to be added.

  13. The OP got a deal anyway you look at it… So he could have gotten a room for $83 a night … OK but Occupancy Tax in Sonoma County is 9% at the price he just quoted that would be $90 a night or $180. So at a minimum he’s up $11 right there and we haven’t even looked at if he was comparing a top end room in the deal to the cheapest BA rate. The BA rate that he found is also a marked down rate so he’s comparing one “deal” to another. It’s like shopping at half the retailers around me. You don’t ever buy anything at the retail price (MSRP) but that’s the price that the deal is always compared to.

    It turned out to be little more than regular wine tastings, which often were comped if one bought wine or found one of the many discounts in many of the local tourist magazine

    Ok but the fact is that you didn’t have to buy wine or dig through the tourist magazines so it isn’t the same. You still came out ahead.

    I’m sorry but he still got a deal. It may not have been as good as he thought but he still got one and by his own admission… a better deal than he could have put together on his own.

  14. Upon seeing the headline for this article, I was really expecting Groupon to have dropped the ball. But as I’ve experienced with them multiple times, they didn’t and responded more than appropriately.

    $169 for 2 nights in a hotel AND a wine tasting for two people is a great price. Groupon arranged for a deal and this guy bought it. One price, all inclusive, no additional hassle or research needed. As J had also mentioned, there was nothing preventing the OP from getting online, looking at the venue’s dates over a 2 or 3 month period and picking the lowest advertised price for a room.

    I think Groupon did great in explaining their situation and in the end, I don’t know what the OP was after here. I also don’t know how so many readers don’t think the OP got a fair shake from Groupon. Craziness…

  15. I used groupon once to get an ok deal on a hotel in Minneapolis. The problem was a tried to redeem it on a stay for NYE and the hotel wouldn’t honor it, though the groupon had no backout dates. I called groupon and they immediately refunded my money, which was great, but still, it just left a bad taste in my mouth. I got my money back, I was out nothing, so that is all fine, BUT it just made me wonder when other deals would not be honored so I just swore off them thinking well what if I couldn’t get my money back? They were honest and great to deal with but still something in the back of my mind just said, ok, no more groupon.

    1. Help me connect some dots here. You made a deal for a Minneapolis hotel, wanted to change the deal for one in NYE, and you’re mad because they wouldn’t change the Groupon for you? Not only that, they refunded your money.

      Sounds like Groupon went way above and beyond.

      1. When you buy a hotel deal on Groupon, most of the time, there is a date range that you are able to book by calling the hotel. It isn’t like Expedia where you book the dates you want when you buy the deal. Sounds like this person bought a deal that included NYE in the date range, with no black out dates listed, but the hotel still wouldn’t let them use it on NYE. I think I’d be very pleased with Groupon if I was in a similar situation, even if I was disappointed with the hotel.

      2. That’s what I am saying. Groupon was great, they were POd that the hotel suddenly was enforcing a blackout date. But it just made me leary of using them in the future because what other deals will the company I got a groupon for suddenly change to terms? Less stress, no more groupon

  16. This doesn’t sound any different than those “flight + hotel” deals peddled by the likes of Travelocity and Expedia, or even the vacation arms of the airlines themselves. Try it sometime – you stick in “flight + hotel” for someplace like Hawaii, and the search results return what appear to be ridiculous savings over buying separately. As others have noted, I have no idea what they use to highlight their “discounts”, but if you spend an extra 10 minutes pricing the airfare and hotel yourself separately, you will often find that the “savings” are negligible, if they exist at all. The trick, as some others have already pointed out, is that the discounts are based off some kind of rack rate (or full fare in the case of airline tickets). In many cases, you can book the same items separately at legitimate, published rates for the same or less.

  17. I’ve used Groupon before and been happy but never ever for travel deals, exactly for the reason described above. Most travel coupons such as for hotels and airlines tickets aren’t worth the paper they’re written one because of the fluctuating prices and being able to easily compare rates online.

  18. The OP received two nights hotel plus a wine tasting for $169 total and he’s complaining because ………… ? Even without the wine tasting the price is $84.50 a night, tax inclusive. That’s not a deal to him? I am no wine connoisseur, but what type of wine did he think he was going to sample at that price? I mean, let’s get real here. His complaint isn’t really what he paid for the hotel, but rather that he didn’t get to wet his pallet with Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon and Sassicaia during his VIP tasting!

  19. This guy needs a personal assistant to do his shopping for him, not a consumer advocate. This is a frivolous complaint.

  20. When it comes to the wine tasting, I’m not sympathetic. “VIP” can mean anything-just like “deluxe” (another word that makes my eyebrows go up). I’ve never seen a “wine tasting” that didn’t consist of tasting small cups of different types of wine with bread or crackers in between each one to clear the palate, and a sales pitch for the wines offered by the sponsors, so I’m wondering what he was expecting.

    On the hotel rate, again, it sounds to me like $169 for a couple of nights plus a wine tasting is a good deal. If Lord felt he could have done better, he should have done his homework ahead of time and not used the Groupon.

    1. It’s always interesting when “premium” is the lowest level for a product or service. Yes – everyone is a VIP with us.

      Honestly – I’ve had some stellar wine tasting events before (of all things) a baseball game. They had different events over the years using anything from plastic cups to souvenir plastic wine glasses (this is a stadium where they do worry about people breaking glass to use as weapons). The best deal was $6 getting 6 tastings. All of the wineries were donating their product with the proceeds going to charity. Most of the wineries were really generous – from half to a full glass. OTOH – it had almost the potential to be like the infamous ten cent beer night in Cleveland.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Cent_Beer_Night

  21. I agree with the other sentiments that Mr. Lord didn’t properly research the place before taking the offer. I know there’s a limited window to buy, but how long would it take to find out how much a room would be before making the purchase?

    I’ve bought some stuff from Groupon. A $10 Jamba Juice gift card for $5. I wasn’t worried that they would go out of business. I’ve also got an unused offer for a restaurant. That’s not going to be a case where I’m worried that I’ll find a better deal elsewhere.

  22. My friends and I have an expression: GTS. It stands for Google That S**t. A thirty-second web search (I know, since I just did it and timed it) would have shown Lord how good a deal he was getting. (And by the way, the mid-week rate I saw was $170, so I think he did pretty well.) This is not Groupon’s fault. We’ve gotten some great deals. As Ronald Reagan says, “Trust, but verify.”

  23. He may not have gotten the deal of the century, but it’s the buyer’s responsibility to check out the hotel’s website before buying! It couldn’t be easier. I do find that I buy groupons impulsively, but so far I”m way ahead. My biggest problem has been not using them before they expire.

  24. What ever happened to “the customer is ALWAYS right (except for complete idiots – of course). This customer was UPSET & he was not afforded the customer service that he – and every customer – deserves. I agree, some research would have avoided this; but some companies seem to have “thin skins” when it comes to MAKING THINGS RIGHT.
    Now, you have a disgrunted customer that will tell all his family & friends not to do business with G; this negates all the good deals & PR of the company. G, you had a chance to impress a customer & you FUMBLED THE BALL!

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