Daily deal sites offer consumers a great opportunity to experience new products and services from both local and national businesses without risking a lot of money and they provide merchants with the chance to turn these same consumers into long-term customers. It’s a model that under ideal circumstances can be a win-win situation for both retailer and consumer.
But there have been a lot of complaints from consumers recently saying that the vouchers expired before they got to use them. In some cases it seems that merchants are reluctant to honor the deals vouchers, stating they are “booked up” or that vouchers can only be used on specific days and only during certain hours. In many cases these limitations mean many vouchers will expire before purchasers can redeem them. In some cases consumers may also have a change in plans that prevent them from using the voucher or they may simply forget to redeem them before the expiration date.
Whatever the reason, a lot of people are left feeling like they’ve been duped by the deals site and the merchant and are left holding a worthless piece of paper. Not only didn’t they get the deal but they’re also out the money they paid. We’re wondering why, at least in the case of Groupon and LivingSocial.
Both Groupon and LivingSocial have generous refund policies in place. Groupon says that if your voucher expires you are still entitled to the price you paid. The expiration date on the voucher only applies to the deal portion of the offer, so if you paid $20 for a voucher, the merchant is responsible for giving you $20 in services or merchandise. Groupon’s terms of sale goes on to say:
If you have gone to the Merchant and the Merchant has refused to redeem the cash value of your expired Voucher, and if applicable law entitles you to such redemption, then please contact Groupon [and explain your situation in writing] and Groupon will refund the purchase price of the Voucher in either U.S. Dollars or credit for purchases of future Vouchers from Groupon (presently known as “Gs”).
LivingSocial has a very similar policy in place stating that the expiration on the voucher is for the promotion but that the actual price you paid is good for 5 years. This is most likely in keeping with gift certificate laws. Unlike Groupon, LivingSocial does not have a cash refund option but credit toward a future deal only.
If the Merchant refuses to honor the Voucher before the legally permitted expiration date, then LivingSocial will refund the paid portion of your Voucher in the form of a credit for future Deals (what we currently call “deal bucks”). In order to receive the credit, you must provide the following information in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org: (a) identification of the Voucher and Merchant with whom you sought to redeem the Voucher, (b) statement of the date, time, and circumstances in which the Merchant refused to redeem the Voucher, and (c) a statement, under penalty of perjury, that the Voucher has never been redeemed with the Merchant.
BuyWithMe also has a consumer friendly refund policy:
However, if the merchant is unwilling or unable to honor your voucher for the price you paid for it, please contact BuyWithMe by clicking here and filling out the “contact us” form. BuyWithMe will issue you a refund in the form of credit to BuyWithMe.com, but only after you have tried to redeem the voucher at the merchant. Amounts paid are non-refundable except to the extent which may be required by applicable law. Amounts paid are non-refundable except to the extent which may be required by applicable law.
When looking at a number of other deal sites the refund policies become far less liberal. In fact in many cases the deals companies pretty much disassociate themselves from the entire transaction once they have run the promotion. EverSave for example says:
If a Voucher is not redeemed by the Expiration Date, the Merchant will honor the unused Cash Value paid (but generally not the Face Value) to the extent required by law. EVERSAVE HAS NO LIABILITY FOR REDEMPTION OF VOUCHERS OR REPAYMENT OF THEIR VALUE, but will make reasonable efforts to assist Visitors whose Merchants will not honor the Face Value (in accordance with the rules of redemption) or, after the Expiration Date, the unused Cash Value. No Visitor is entitled to a refund of the Cash Value or Face Value, but at most the opportunity to redeem the Voucher for the types of goods and services (subject to any restrictions) contained in the Voucher.
KGB Deals, just like EverSave, takes no responsibility in seeing that you get your money back.
…Merchant is responsible for honoring the cash value that you paid for your Voucher for a period of time beyond the expiration date stated on the Voucher. If applicable, this is a statutory provision which applies to the Merchant, and it is the sole responsibility of the Merchant (and in no way the responsibility of kgb, as kgb is not the Merchant, has no obligations of the Merchant, and is merely selling the promotional Voucher on behalf of the Merchant) to comply with such applicable laws and statutes which may govern the Merchant.
Have you had a deals voucher expire and not been able to get your money refunded? Have you had an instance where a site that promises a refund, such as Groupon, LivingSocial or BuyWithMe, has refused to refund the price you paid for a voucher? We want to hear your story.