Groupon Valentine’s Offer No Sweetheart Deal

Posted February 14, 2011 in Consumer Law by Arthur Buono

A few people who went for Groupon’s FTD Valentine’s Day offer are feeling jilted. They claim the same flowers are available on FTD’s website for less than the Groupon discount. It’s not likely to be the first lovers’ quarrel between Groupon and bargain-hunting consumers.

  • Consumers accuse FTD of selling same items below Groupon-discount offer
  • FTD denies markup-discount sham
  • Buyers made whole, but new discounting methods bear watching
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Deceptive Advertising Illegal, Online or Off

Groupon and FTD claim it’s all a minor mistake. Alleged to be at the heart of the problem is the age-old sham of marking a good up before discounting it. So if something normally retails for $40, but is marked up to $70 before a $20 discount’s applied, it really isn’t a bargain at $50, now is it?

Deceptive sales and advertising are unlawful. It doesn’t matter if the offer’s made in person, through a newspaper ad, a paper coupon, or a Groupon. The Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection has Rules of the Road for advertising online that make this clear. It includes some special rules to make online advertising easier for consumers to understand.

What’s not clear is who bears responsibility for misleading claims made in deal-of-the-day offers. By partnering with retailers, Groupon’s minting money as its rumored mega-billion dollar IPO would suggest. Groupon’s a deep pocket, and with all that money comes the burden of making sure consumers are not being given the business.

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