Help Local Businesses After Sandy

As damage is assessed and Sandy subsides, it’s clear that our merchants, customers and own employees have been hit hard by this week’s events. We wanted to share what’s being done for these groups as well as Groupon’s overall strategy when situations like these occur.

On Our Company and Motivation
As you may know, Groupon grew out of The Point, a site for collective action where users could work together to support community initiatives big and small. Social good is in our DNA and we recognize that responding to community needs is a daily commitment. Through Grassroots, we touch schools, children’s groups, local arts programs and countless other community pillars every single day, aiming to improve the neighborhoods that our Groupon merchants serve.

We often talk about our mission to become the local commerce ecosystem. Merchants are far more than part of our professional network; they ARE Groupon. When they hurt, whether it’s strain due to a bad economy or a natural disaster like Sandy, we do too.

Fortunately, thanks to our daily Grassroots work, we have existing relationships with trusted international partners who can help remedy the pain our businesses face in times of crisis. We can act quickly and make a difference, while still serving our core mission (merchant success.)

What We’re Doing After Sandy
Our focus with all of our philanthropic efforts is community empowerment and neighborhood resilience. Our response to Sandy will focus on long-term recovery (vs short-term relief) of Groupon merchants and the small business community at large.

Actions already taken:

  • We checked in on all merchants being featured this week, and in affected Northeastern markets, eventually moved to “opt-in only,” meaning merchants had to proactively contact us to confirm they were still interested and able to run this week. We’re playing this day by day and will eventually return to normal operation once affected businesses and markets have more stable local resources and city functionality. Our goal is to eliminate any possible strain a feature may cause or continue to help these businesses gain exposure if they’re ready.
  • We referred merchants to relief and recovery resources through Disaster Help Desk powered by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Immediate next steps:

  • We’ve launched a Grassroots fundraising campaign for Accion to provide small business recovery microloans, as we did similarly for the Colorado wildfires earlier this year. Please visit www.groupon.com/sandy if you’d like to support our merchant communities.
  • We’ll continue to assess the needs of our merchants in impacted areas, call to check-in, and in some cases just provide some moral support.

As assessments continue to develop a clearer picture of the damage, so will our interventions and approach to supporting the recovery efforts. Thanks in advance for keeping the Groupon family – our merchants, customers, and Groupon employees – in your thoughts.

The Groupon CS Talent Show: Not Enough Tiaras

The Groupon Customer Service Talent Show — the one time a year when bright-eyed, hopeful employees compete savagely for the acclaim and respect of their peers and the utter humiliation and ridicule of their opponents.

The Brother Cottermans

A fun time was had by all!

After introducing three fierce Talent Judges (each specifically schooled in the art of judging people based on their superficial qualities), the ceremonies were underway with a harp and acoustic guitar performance of Pachelbel’s Canon. James and Chuck, our hosts, greeted the audience with solemn respect, shaking each audience member’s hand while the rest awaited the Bonanza of Talent yet to explode onstage.

The night began with a pitch-perfect rendition of the national anthem by our hosts, reminding everyone that the best way you can express your patriotism is by avoiding tone-deafness. And as the contestants got underway, the audience swooned and swayed to the sounds of Alicia Keys, Brian McKnight, and a golf ball bouncing on the end of a golf club for almost a minute straight. Magic fire nearly burnt down the sound system, a psychic taught us all that it’s best to look into our own future, and an interpretive step-dance of Customer Service expertise had the whole house wishing they weren’t so utterly talentless.

When the dust settled, only Sam C.’s performance of “Back at One” proved him a courageous crooner, an expert at counting to four, and the most talented representative in Customer Service History This Year. He has received the gloriously beautiful Tiara of Talent, and is honored to wear it to work all day, demonstrating just how big of a winner he truly is.

But really? We all won.

The Cottermans, James and Chuck

Zoom-In for a Chance to Win!

Today we’re announcing our first Groupon Goods contest hosted on their shiny new Facebook page. Give it a “Like” and you’ll be tuned in to exclusive Facebook deals, exciting giveaways, and other surprises!

Here’s the contest: We’ve zoomed-in uncomfortably close on one of the products currently featured on our Groupon Goods page. If you can identify what it is, you could see it up close and person–because it could be yours!

Head on over to the Groupon Goods Facebook page and take a guess in the comments for a chance to win. All correct answers will go into a pool and we’ll pick a winner at random!

If you want to try your hand at some legalese, the complete rules are after the break. Good luck!

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GROUPON NAME THAT PRODUCT CONTEST

OFFICIAL RULES

1. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.    From time to time Groupon will initiate a Name That Product Contest (each a “Contest”) by placing a close up picture of a product on its Facebook page and ask Facebook fans to guess the product in order to have the opportunity to be entered into a random drawing to win that prize.  You may enter a Contest during the time period stated on the Facebook posting announcing each Contest (“Promotion Period”).

2. ELIGIBILITY:  Contest open to legal residents of the 50 United States,  the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 years of age or older at the time of entry. Void outside of the 50 United States and D.C., Canada (other than Quebec) and where prohibited.  Employees of Sponsor, its parent, affiliates, distributors, retailers, advertising, promotion and judging agencies and the immediate families and household members of each are not eligible.

3. ENTRY: ENTER ONLY BY FACEBOOK:  To enter a Contest, just go to Groupon’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/groupon, and guess the product  being shown by placing your answer in the comments section of the Facebook page.  You must be a friend of Groupon’s Facebook page to enter. LIMIT: one (1) entry per person, or household per Contest.  Duplicate entries will result in your disqualification.   All entries submitted become the sole property of  Groupon, Inc.   (“Sponsor” or “Groupon”) and none will be returned. No mechanically reproduced, or photocopied entries allowed. Sponsor is not responsible for lost, late, illegible, incomplete, damaged, postage-due or misdirected entries.   Though Facebook is not a sponsor of any Contest, Facebook’s terms of service apply.  All non-responsive entries, entries that, in Groupon’s sole discretion are not responsive or appropriate, may be disqualified and removed.

4.  SELECTION OF WINNERS: All eligible entries will be reviewed by Groupon and the entries from those who, in Groupon’s sole determination and discretion, have successfully identified the product shown on the site will be entered into a random drawing by which one to win the prize.

4. PRIZES:  One prize per Contest–the winner will win the prize depicted.   We can’t describe the prize in more detail here because then we would be giving the answer away!

Acceptance of the prize constitutes permission from the prize winner for Sponsor  and its public relations/promotional agencies to use the prize winner’s name, prize, biographical information, state of residence and likeness for public relations, advertising and promotional purposes online and in print, or in other media, in connection with the contest without additional compensation unless prohibited by law.

5. TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Winners will be notified by Facebook messaging   and will be required to respond within 3 days as well as execute and return an Affidavit of Eligibility and Liability/Publicity Release (where permitted by law) within 14 days of notification (first attempted delivery) or prize may be forfeited and an alternate winner selected.  Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. In the event of any dispute regarding who is the entrant that submitted an e-mail entry, the potential winner must provide Sponsor with proof that the potential winner is the authorized account holder of the e-mail address associated with the potentially winning entry.  By entering, entrants agree to abide by and be bound by these rules and Sponsor’s  decisions, which are final and binding in all matters related to this contest. Prize is non-transferable. No cash redemption or substitution permitted, except by Sponsor, who may substitute a prize of equal or greater value.  Any and all federal, state, and local taxes, and any other related expenses on prizes, if any, are the sole responsibility of the winner.   Winner may be required to provide information necessary (e.g. social security number) for issuance of appropriate tax documentation. Any form of entry other than as specified in these rules is prohibited.

By accepting prize, winner agrees that neither Sponsor its parent, affiliates, subsidiaries, distributors, retailers, and/or any of their respective shareholders, directors, officers, distributors, employees or promotion/advertising agencies will have any liability whatsoever for any injuries, losses, harm, damage, cost, or expense arising from or in connection with participation in this Contest or any prize related activities, or the acceptance, possession, use and/or misuse of a prize including, without limitation, any personal injury or death. By accepting prize, winner acknowledges that Sponsor, its parent, affiliates, subsidiaries, distributors, retailers, and/or any of their respective shareholders, directors, officers, distributors, employees or promotion/advertising agencies have neither made, nor are in any manner responsible or liable for, any warranty, representation or guarantee, express or implied, in fact or in law, relative to a prize, including but not limited to its quality or merchantability, or fitness for a particular purpose. All Federal, State, and Local laws and regulations apply.

6. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY: Sponsor is not responsible for any lost, misdirected, delayed or illegible entries, nor for any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by Web site users or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the contest or by any technical or human error which may occur in the processing of entries. Sponsor assumes no responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, communications line failure, theft or destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of, entries. Sponsor is not responsible for any problems or technical malfunction of any telephone network or lines, computer on-line-systems, servers or providers, computer equipment, software, failure of email on account of technical problems or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website or combination thereof, including injury or damage to participants or to any person’s computer related to or resulting from participating or downloading materials in this contest. If, for any reason, the contest is not capable of running as planned, including infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes beyond the control of Sponsor  which corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of this contest, Sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the contest.

7.  OTHER. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE ANY WEB SITE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE CONTEST  IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS AND SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR  RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES (INCLUDING, REASONABLE ATTORNEYS’ FEES) FROM ANY SUCH ENTRANT TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Without limiting the foregoing, Sponsor may disqualify any entrants from the contest who deliberately damage, tamper with or undermine the legitimate operation of the contest.

8. OFFICIAL RULES/WINNER’S LIST: For an additional copy of these Official Rules send a stamped, self-addressed envelope (residents of Vermont may omit return postage) postmarked on or before ________ to:  Name That Product    Contest Rules, c/o Groupon, Inc.  600 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL   60654.  The winner’s name and prize will be posted on Groupon’s Facebook page within approximately a week after the winner is chosen.

Sponsor: Groupon, Inc.   600 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL   60654

 


Holiday Head Start

The holidays are right around the corner. And if you’re like us, you’ve been basting your Thanksgiving turkey since June and your 2013 4th of July apple pie is already cooling on your window sill. Since you can’t stop the holidays from happening, you might as well get ready with these deals.

Women’s Diamond Croton Watches – Diamond-studded women’s watches with ornamental faces from a brand with more than 130 years in the watchmaking industry

My Own Labels - Thousands of design templates to make unique holiday gifts and other items such as coasters and bookplates with personalized text and images

Gooseberry Patch – Cookbooks and calendars with tips and tricks pulled together from user submissions

Socks from RenfroSocks.com- Large-scale sock manufacturer ships classic, novelty, and medical-grade socks from a variety of brands

Brainstring Brainteasers – Three styles of puzzles invite players aged 7 and older to create and untangle knots by manipulating knobs and panels

Purchasing some of these great deals will help you get a head start on holiday shopping for your family, but they aren’t the only people in your life that deserve a gift. Here’s a list of other people you should shop for during this most brutally wonderful time of the year:

  • The mailman
  • The milkman
  • The jazzman
  • Your doctor (only if you haven’t paid him with real money yet)
  • The piano teacher who teaches your children why it’s hard to make a living only teaching piano to children
  • The company that makes your favorite medicine
  • Anyone you know who loves things but doesn’t know how to use money to buy them for themselves
  • Michael Jordan

Finally—A Contest on the Internet

If you can read this, you’ve already won!

That’s right, you’ve won the freedom to participate in Groupon’s new Weekly Twitter Contests—a gauntlet of wit, will, and skill that will test your creativity, physical endurance, and Twittering ability. But we can already hear you asking—via our vast, technically legal network of customer listening devices—what’s in it for me?

Well…how does a weekly prize of $72 sound?

If you said, “Sounds great!” you’d better buckle up, because we won’t be giving away a weekly prize of $72. We’ll be giving away a weekly prize of $100.

That’s 100 free Groupon Bucks to spend on dining, services, or memorable experiences with loved ones who will see you with new admiration once your talent is finally validated by strangers on the Internet. It’s easy to play:

  • Start now by following @Groupon on Twitter. Every Monday morning we’ll announce that week’s Twitter contest.
  • You may be called upon to write something, craft something, or solve a riddle—the possibilities are only limited by our imaginations and international law.
  • You have until Friday afternoon to get in your submission. Winners will be announced on Friday at 5 p.m. (CST).
  • Full rules, including easy-to-follow legal jargon, are available to read after the break below.

And it doesn’t stop there. Each week we’ll also award a secondary “G for Effort” prize of 50 Groupon Bucks to one tenacious, frequent player—or to an honorable mention or a surprising interpretation of that day’s request.

Finally, because we’re so excited about unleashing your collective brain potential, the first Twitter contest starts not Monday, but RIGHT NOW! Follow @Groupon on Twitter to see what we’ve cooked up for this inaugural contest!

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A Few of Your Favorite Things

We all have our favorites: a favorite home-cooked meal that warms both our hearts and stomachs, a favorite season to miss when the weather changes, or a favorite child. But we wanted to show you what you’ve told us to be your favorite deals. Below are just a few–don’t forget to check out our full list of all the faves you crave.

iPup and iPig Apple Speaker Docks – Whimsical, uniquely designed speaker docks produce crystal-clear audio from your iPod or iPhone; five styles available

$25 for Test-Prep Course from Bench Prep – Cross-platform education site preps students for GRE, GMAT, LSAT & more tests with quizzes, practice tests, and performance reports

Picaboo – Easy-to-use application personalizes snapshots, preserving them in canvas prints, calendars, collage posters, and leather-bound books

Luxury Down-Alternative 100% Cotton Blanket – A luxurious 350-thread-count 100% cotton blanket in a variety of colors and sizes with a hypoallergenic polyester fill

Targus Vuscape Case and Stand for iPad 3 – A hard-shell iPad 3 case with a scratch-resistant, padded interior converts into a stand with three viewing angles and a typing mode

12 Months of Online Meal Plans from eMeals – Weekly shopping lists showcase flavorful, healthful recipes customized by store, diet, and price

Browsing through Groupon’s Favorite Deals deal collection gives you an idea of what we as a company love, but doesn’t give you an idea of what we as individuals love. To help you get to know us more individually and intimately, we’ve let Groupon’s only remaining on-staff firefighter, Bob Dipdyke, share a list of his favorite things:

Favorite Color: Anything that isn’t the color of fire. I guess maybe water. Is “water” a color?

Favorite Movie: The one I’m working on right now in my spare time. It’s about a firefighter named Rob Doplike who saves horses from burning stables and, also, is never lonely.

Favorite Cereal: None. I haven’t eaten since that bad thing happened to the other people I fought fires with at Groupon.

Favorite Child: If I had children, it’d be impossible to choose a favorite! But since I don’t, I’ll say my mother when she was 10 years old.

Favorite Feeling: The opposite of what I feel when I’m lying on my cold, wood floors.

Favorite Animal: Dog puppies!

What has been your favorite Groupon deal?

Groupon Employees Lend a Hand at Working Bikes

Today’s blog post is guest-authored by Meghanne Phillips:

Last Saturday a cohort of Groupon cyclists volunteered at one of our favorite charities, Working Bikes, where Chicagoans’ unwanted bikes become cheap and efficient vehicles for those who need them here and abroad. This storefront in Pilsen conceals a mind-boggling number of used bicycles on its three floors: they’ll take whatever rusted piece of junk you want to donate.

Although some of the thousands of bikes brought into the shop every year can be repaired and resold in Chicagoland, the vast majority of them are shipped to Global South countries, where they serve a variety of purposes. During our welcome tour of the expansive property, we learned that these donated bikes serve as hands-on training for bike mechanics in countries like Africa and Peru, after which they provide transportation for professionals who desperately need them–one circuit doctor in Africa was able to cut down his service route from weeks to days with the help of Working Bikes. More impressive still are the ways in which spare parts from these bikes can be reappropriated to construct wells and generators. Projects like these particularly interest founder Lee Ravenscroft, who is constantly designing new machines in the shop–which you, too, can see when paying Working Bikes a visit.

We were given the the task of streamlining bikes to fit into shipping containers, removing pedals and turning handlebars in order to economize precious space. Because of our help, the cooperative will be able to pack 5,000 bikes into containers today for Wheels of Africa.

Working Bikes regularly opens their doors to volunteers Tuesday 5-9pm and Wednesdays and Saturdays 12-5pm. And if you don’t think you know enough about bikes, don’t worry: the staff is eager to teach all enthusiastic volunteers. Any day you are able to give is not only providing ease of access to medical care, education, and food for whole communities in the Global South, but is also a learning experience for the amateur mechanic (and rumor has it that there’s a burrito in it for you at the end of the day).

Sweetest Day Deals

Sweetest Day is Valentine’s Day’s half-birthday. It has been scientifically proven to increase camaraderie between co-workers, loved ones, or anyone you’re willing to pick up at the airport. Gear up for this cavity-infused holiday on October 20th with some of our sweetest featured deals:

$15 for $30 Worth of Baked Goods from Cheryl’s – Themed gift baskets overflowing with buttercream-frosted sugar cookies, caramel brownies, and rich cake delivered to your door

Wedding Invitations, Custom Stationery, and Fine Paper Goods from Delphine – Letterpress and flat-printed stationery and invitations ranging from classic to modern designs, customizable with myriad colors and fonts

14-Karat Gold Earrings, Necklaces, and Jewelry
14-karat gold overlaid onto sterling-silver jewelry with accents such as round-cut and baguette diamonds and genuine-garnet gemstones

$25 for $75 Worth of International Wine from Barclay’s Wine – Online purveyor scours the globe for standout wines, each outfitted with detailed descriptions and delivered to homes or offices

Invicta Luxury Men’s Diver Watch – A name meaning “invincible” endorses 175 years of watchmaking tradition in watches with stainless-steel cases; water-resistant to 660 feet

On Sweetest Day we give our loved ones candy, and they eat it in front of us to prove that they trust us not to poison them. Other than the deals we’re featuring on our site, here are some of this year’s favorite givable candy treats:

  • Gel Fizz
  • Mascarpone Surprise
  • Candy Cell Phone (functional until saliva soaked)
  • Thin, Sweet Rice Sheets
  • Sucking Orbs
  • All-Natural 12-Grain Sap Chunk
  • Exploded Sugar Shards
  • FUNABLES™ Chocolate Clay (does not actually contain chocolate)

Is Sweetest Day catering too much to our sweetheart’s sweet tooth or do you embrace an opportunity to tell your loved one you love them?

Groupon Serves Up Breadcrumb

Today we’re excited to announce the national launch of Breadcrumb! Just a few months ago, Groupon acquired Breadcrumb – an easy-to-use, powerful and affordable iPad point-of-sale (POS) system that helps local restaurants, bars and cafes run more effectively – in another step towards becoming the world’s commerce operating system.

I spent years working in restaurants and bars suffering with expensive, outdated and confusing POS systems. We started Breadcrumb to provide the hospitality industry with the best POS experience it has ever had. We do that by combining intuitive and sophisticated software with outstanding support. Gone are the days of clunky terminals and expensive equipment with little or no support – Breadcrumb removes the complexities, frustrations and high costs common to legacy POS solutions. In other words, it’s just what restaurants and bars have been waiting for.

Breadcrumb streamlines all activity at local restaurants, cafes and bars, from taking and placing orders, to table management, payment processing and analyzing sales so merchants can learn about and improve their businesses.

After a successful pilot in New York City, we’re thrilled to be ready to offer service to all hospitality merchants in the U.S. for as little as $99 per month. Breadcrumb’s key benefits are:

  • Simplicity – Breadcrumb is as easy as using an iPad app. Servers can search for menu items or rearrange tables with a finger swipe, software updates are free and automatic, and we even ship new customers an all-in-one Breadbox that contains all hardware required to get started.
  • Powerful Features – Everything a restaurant or bar needs to operate more efficiently and deliver impeccable customer service.  Breadcrumb has a full range of features that allows hospitality businesses to manage labor, take orders, process payments and analyze performance. Users can merge or split checks, add or adjust menu items, set employee access levels, view real-time sales and labor reports and more.
  • 5- Star Support – Includes free 24/7 tech support from a dedicated team of hospitality specialists who have years of restaurant and bar experience.

Breadcrumb’s unique pricing model also sets it apart from other systems. Breadcrumb customers save thousands on hardware vs. legacy systems, pay no upfront fees, and aren’t pressured into long-term contracts. It’s not just about price – we’re so confident in Breadcrumb that if users aren’t happy within 30 days, they’ll get their money back, guaranteed.

We built Breadcrumb to solve a problem I faced, and I truly believe in its power to make hospitality folks’ lives easier. We’re excited to bring Breadcrumb to even more businesses and contribute to Groupon’s continued transformation into the world’s local commerce operating system!

Seth Harris

General Manager, Breadcrumb

Behind the Deals: Moving Checklist

Groupon has been constantly moving into new offices because of all the smells that keep happening in them. Here’s what every Groupon employee is forced to do to before moving:

  • Unplug your computer monitor.
  • Dust off the computer monitor with the shirt you are wearing.
  • Gently drop your computer monitor in the trash. You’ll get a new one at the new office.
  • Place your keyboard and mouse into the box you brought from home, but only after coating them in the supplied keyboard/mouse sterilizing cream.
  • Close your box and wait for the sterilizing cream to take effect.
  • When the sides of the box puff out, the sterilizing cream is working, turning the coating of dead skin cells and body oil you’ve left on your computer equipment into a mostly harmless, odorless gas.
  • Open your box back up—only after putting on the construction mask you brought from home—and check to make sure the sterilizing cream hasn’t completely eroded your equipment.
  • If your keyboard and mouse are left relatively intact, close the box and walk away. Someone will probably take care of the rest.