The Groupon Promise

I’m frequently asked how Groupon chooses which businesses to feature.

Variety is obviously important—part of what makes Groupon fun is the mix of business types and neighborhoods. And of course, we make sure we’re offering the best price out there. But most importantly, we focus on quality. We’re extremely proud of the fact that our customers discover and try new things simply because they’re featured on Groupon. We’ve earned that trust by strictly adhering to rules we set for choosing our merchant partners. Every business we feature goes through a vetting process, when our team of 30 writers, researchers, fact checkers, and editors scour online and offline media for an objective consensus that the business is respectable.

Now, that last paragraph is usually the type of empty marketing BS that I loathe about companies, because anyone can get away with claiming it. Words mean nothing unless they’re backed up by action. So how do we back it up at Groupon?

First, we have a public discussion board for every deal. Whether you love or hate a deal, we’re there to have an open conversation with you about it. We’ve received priceless feedback through our forums that has made us a better company.

Second, we have _The Groupon Promise_: if Groupon ever lets you down, we’ll return your purchase—simple as that. Why? Because when we do a bad job, we want it to be easy for you to punish us. We believe that when a customer has a bad experience, companies pay for it sooner or later—so we’d rather pay fast so we can make things right before it’s too late.

So, couldn’t someone just have magical Groupon experience after magical Groupon experience and still demand refunds, claiming that something awful happened and exploiting our policy? Yes—and that’s probably why open policies like this are rare. But we believe it’s a mistake to force everyone to live by rules meant to control the very small percentage of bad people out there—the unintended consequence is a worse experience for the 99.9% of customers who are honest and fair.

As most companies get bigger, they introduce frustrating policies that show less trust in their customers. They hide undesirable policies behind legal jargon and set up endless obstacles to reach customer service. Customers are forced to subvert those policies to get what they need. Out of necessity, customers act more abrasive when dealing with corporate customer service labyrinths than they ever would behave in real life. We never want to be at war with our customers, so we’re taking it in the other direction. More freedom for our customers. More trust.

OK, so a couple of caveats that really go without saying: First, this is an experiment. While we’re anxious to implement policies that empower our customers, if we’re proven wrong and people take advantage of us by asking for refunds for things outside of our control or other frivolous reason, not only will we be deeply saddened by our misplaced and naive faith in the fundamental goodness of people, we’ll be forced to switch to a more discriminating return policy. But we’ve had this policy since we launched Groupon and so far it’s produced nothing but universal happiness. Second, if you’re that guy that buys a million Groupons and tries to get refunds for all of them, we’re obviously going to know and shut off your account, and no amount of whining, “BUT YOU SAID I COULD GET A RETURN FOR ANNYTHING!!11″ will change that. And here’s one our lawyers made us throw in: we’re not the merchant, so while we’ll accept a return if you feel like Groupon did something that let you down, we’re still not legally responsible if you are injured or killed or breakup with your girlfriend while using a Groupon. In other words, Groupon is a city guide and a deal site, not a site that alleviates your core human responsibilities.

For me, one of the most exciting parts of starting a business is the opportunity to correct all the things that bug me about some of the companies I buy stuff from. Look for more features and policies that embody this perspective in the months to come. And, as always, [we crave your feedback](mailto:info@groupon.com).

  • Reading this convinced me to join. Love the business model, love your philosophy, and appreciate the principled approach you apply to this business. I hope you have tremendous success.

  • I bought 4 groupons for Float Matrix in San Francisco – would like to get a refund for the remaining 3 groupons. I had an appointment at 6pm, didn’t get in until almost 7pm, and then didn’t get a full hour. Also, very long wait to get an appointment. I can be reached at 415-424-8450. Thank You, Richard Amaro

  • I’ve heard from a friend in California that if you let a Groupon expire the merchant still has to give you at least the amount you as a discount. Is this true because of Groupon policy or is it California law (in other words, is it just California that this applies to?)?

  • I purchased a $10 Groupon for Sweetness Cafe in Portland, OR but didn’t get the coupon. What should I do?

  • I purchased a groupon for an acupuncture treatment, but changed my mind of having it…can I return the coupon? I have not printed it out yet…

  • I gave my husband the nascar experience for Valentine’s Day, and he says he does NOT want to do this at all. Please help. What do I do? Even a Groupon “credit” would greatly be appreciated. What a goof up!! Help

  • There was abusiness that I missed when do you run them again. It was a pastry store in my neighborhood.

  • I bought a Groupon for a mani/pedi (as a bday treat to myself) and the reviews have been really bad. I can’t afford (I’m unemployed) to get a bad mani/pedi, not just b/c of lack of work but b/c I’ve already had a nail place give me a fungus. Can I please get a refund?? All the other groupons I’ve purchased have been fantastic!
    Thanks.

  • i never new about any kind of refund when i joined groupon. i look forward everyday to see what you are offering. i love your concept, creativitiy and customer support. i will share your website with all my friends. thank you!!

  • I just had the most glorious massage of my life, and I’ve had a lot of massage over the years.

    Symmetry in NW Denver welcomed me w/a hot cup of lavender tea into a warm, cozy room where all my sore muscles and stress just melted away…I felt like a marshmallow afterwards…

    I will definitely return…

  • I recently used Groupon for the first time to purchase tickets for Quadrille in Chicago. I really feel this deal was misrepresented – there are no evening shows and the dates are so limited I cannot attend druing the day. It did not make that clear in the offer.

  • I recently made a purchase and then less then 15 minutes later cancelled the purchase. I was charged immediately, but still have not received my refund and it’s been 5 days.

    First they told me I had never been charged, then they told me I had been (after I showed I had) but they had issued a refund. One I still haven’t seen.

    Now they say it will take 10 days! Didn’t take them 10 days to take my money, not even 10 minutes.

    They don’t tell you they will still charge you even though you cancel, nor that they won’t issue you an immediate credit like they should if they do charge you.

    Sadly disappointed – so much for the customer satisfaction “Groupon Promise”

  • Hi Kathleen,

    Sorry to hear about this. I can explain why this happened. Once you purchase something on our site, we charge you for it as quickly as we can so that you’ll get your Groupon as quickly as possible. Most often these charges go through in less than 15 minutes. Once we’ve charged you we still allow you to cancel your order until midnight, but to do so means we will have to issue a credit through your bank for the amount we originally charged. Unfortunately we do not have any control over how long it takes for a credit to go through–this is something entirely controlled by your credit card provider. We release those funds from our bank the day you cancel your order but credit card companies typically takes 3-5 days (and sometimes longer) to put the funds back in your account.

    I know this is frustrating. My best suggestion to get more information about this and to see if there is any way to speed this up is to contact the number on the back of your credit card and see if there is anything they can do.

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  • Hi everyone,

    We love hearing your comments about our Promise policy or anything else about Groupon and we’ll do our best to answer any questions here in this thread.

    If you have a specific question about a purchase you made or your account, please let us know at http://www.groupon.com/contact-us so we can look up your account and address your specific situation.

    Thanks,

    Joe Harrow
    Groupon Customer Support

  • Someone wants to sell me a groupon. Can she return it and I purchase it.

    How can people exchange their groupons. This for the recent vibraderm abraision groupon.
    thanks,
    David

  • I just purchased today’s deal, but I have changed my mind. Can I cancel; if so, how?

  • Do I have to call to get a refund or can I do it on here?

  • i PURCHASED A GROUPON ON 3-5-2010 AND THOUGHT THAT iT WOULD BE DELIVERD BY MAIL AND i WOULD LIKE A REFUND.

  • I didn’t receive a link to print off the groupon I purchased on 02-24-10 $10 for $25 Worth of Custom Energy Bars from Element Bars. Any way I can have one sent now?

  • I bought a Groupon for Galaxy Cafe in Austin, but forgot to access the site to print out the coupon. I thought there was a site I could go to for MY Groupons.

    Can you help me?

    thanks,

    susan

  • Hi everyone,

    To have your support questions answered as quickly as possible, I strongly suggest you send us an email to support@groupon.com (rather than posting here).

    For those of you having trouble finding Groupons you’ve already purchased, you can always view these by going to http://mygroupons.com and logging in with the same email address you used when you made the purchase.

    Thanks,

    Joe (from Groupon)

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