LivingSocial won’t honor its cashback restaurant promotion

When Haris Khan participates in a cashback program with LivingSocial, it shortchanges him by $130. Can this advocate help him find the money?

Question: Over the past year, I have received several promotional emails from LivingSocial for its “Restaurants Plus” program. Under this program, I was promised 100 percent cash back — up to varying amounts — for purchases made at various restaurants.

I made the purchases, but I still have not received over $120 in cash back, as promised by LivingSocial. I spoke to LivingSocial last year, and a representative said she would process the refund for the missing the cash back. But I’ve received no refund.

I’ve tried to contact LivingSocial via email, phone and social media countless times since then. No response. Can you persuade LivingSocial to honor its promotion? — Haris Khan, Germantown, Md.

Answer: Do you know what I love about your case? You didn’t take LivingSocial’s word that it would give you $120. You tracked it. When I asked for your records, you forked over all detailed paperwork. You sent records of your dining at Layla’s Bistro and Ladda Thai in San Jose, Calif., and Loving Hut in Milpitas, Calif. Impressive.

The program, Restaurants Plus by LivingSocial, seems pretty straightforward. It allows you to earn cash back on any card that is activated for the program. Some restrictions apply, but you appear to not have violated any of the rules.

That’s a key issue. Cashback programs are one of the favorite tools of hackers, who sometimes abuse them and have their memberships terminated as a result. Had you committed such an offense, I might not have taken this case. But everything you did appeared to be on the up-and-up.

Related story:   What if restaurants were run like airlines?

Your case is a reminder that the old Russian proverb — “Trust but verify” — applies to every consumer transaction. I wonder how many restaurant patrons did not pay attention to the cashback amount and just let this slide. No wonder LivingSocial balked at your refund. I mean, what’s $120 between friends, right?

I’m kidding. I know friendships that have ended for less.

You could have taken this to the next level by appealing to a customer service manager at the company. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the LivingSocial executives on my consumer advocacy site.

I contacted LivingSocial on your behalf and shared your documentation with the company. It refunded your $120.

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 Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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