Groupon replaces the chief executive of its Middle East division yet again. While it is unclear if Ainsley Duncombe’s departure is related to growing complaints about Groupon’s services worldwide, the change has been confirmed. Groupon has been receiving complaints about its services as it expands and tries to compete with smaller regional players.
In the UK, Groupon has been warned by the Office of Fair Trading to about breaking laws related to pricing, advertising, unfair terms, inaccurate offers. All these could lead to court cases in the UK. In India, Groupon was found to have leaked personal data of consumers. The news from China too is not rosy for Groupon with the joint venture Gaopeng having to retrench staff last year.
Groupon Middle East has been accused of delays in delivery of goods bough by customers. Moreover, many customers in the UAE and other parts of the Middle East claim that the staff was rude when contacted about the delays. Groupon’s Facebook page carries many customer complaints as well as rude remarks by staff.
Many customers of Groupon in the Middle East are unlikely to use its services again as they feel that the hassle is not worth it. Even though market experts feel that a Groupon model will be welcome in the Middle East, the lack of prompt delivery is likely to be perceived as dishonest.
Gaurav Sinha, the managing director of Insignia, a brand consultancy, said the group-buying idea had potential in the Middle East, but it had to be transparent with customers to avoid being perceived as “dishonest”.
“Something like this can create an absolute brand hijack if they cannot maintain what’s being offered in an efficient manner,” he said.