Groupon Nightmare.

January 9, 2012



Not every deal is as good as it looks.JulieMarg /Foter


Let me start off by saying that I normally love daily deal sites. And I buy a deal once a month- usually for things I need or want to give away as presents, such as; yoga classes, photoshoots, spa sessions. I have purchased numerous products from App Sumo, Living Social, Team Buy etc.  I know most people buy these daily deals and forget about them. I am not one of those people. I use/give mine right away  so if there are any Groupon nightmares, I became of rather quickly.

Being the impulsive shopper that I am, I don’t normally pay attention to instore details. Online, however, I do. So imagine my surprise when the retail store that I buy my glasses from had a Groupon deal. This was fantastic for 2 reasons, one- I am blind as a bat without my contacts or glasses and two- I have recently decided that stepping on my “work” glasses was a good idea. Because I work about 12-14 hours a day then sometimes go out after, my contacts start hurting my eyes and I end up switching to my glasses. This is clearly not possible when you have to tape up your glasses- geek style.


Not only was this Groupon deal great, but it was perfectly timed as well, and even though I either buy my glasses online or use my work insurance this was a special circumstance. Fyi: my work covers $200 every 2 years.

I bought 2 Groupon deals that night. This deal was $200 credit for $30. Since my glasses rarely, if ever, cost more than that, I was over the moon. The extra one was for my sister.

4 days later, my sister and I headed down to the store to get our glasses. It should be noted that even though this was the same company where I normally get my glasses from, it was a different branch.  Upon our arrival we found the store packed, and assumed that most people had purchased the same deal. We proceeded  to find glasses that we liked and flagged down an employee to give us pricing.

This is where this experience turned into a nightmare. The employee told us that the Groupon must be used on designer glasses. We are not picky, and prefer the style over the name brand. Nevertheless, we found “designer” ones and flagged him down again. He proceeded to break down the costs for us. Basically the way the Groupon was structured was to make you spend double what a normal client would.

For example:

With Groupon

Designer Frames: $280

Lens :$100

UV/ Anti Reflective Coating: $70

Total: $450 – $200 Groupon = $250 (x 2 ) = $500 for 2 pairs (plus the $60 I already spent on Groupon)


Without Groupon:

Designer Frames : $280 (or I could have gotten non designer ones for $100)

Lens :$70 (promo)

UV/Anti Reflective Coating: Free

Total: $350 – Instore special of $100 off each if you buy 2 pairs =$300

At this point I just stood there staring at the employee because I couldn’t find any words that could describe my outrage and annoyance. He saw my frustration and suggested that next time I shouldn’t purchase Groupons. Needless to say we left and I proceeded to purchase the same designer glasses online for $40 each with free shipping.


Next Steps:

I promptly contacted Groupon when I arrived home and asked for a refund. How businesses get away with this type of behaviour is beyond me. I understand that some deals are structured in a way where the retailer is not compensated. My suggestion to anyone dealing with Groupon or any of the daily deal sites is to do your research. I didn’t read the fine print because I assumed that since this store is associated with the one I normally visit, they will be legitimate as well. Clearly, I was wrong. I wonder how many people just went ahead and paid way more than they should have because they thought they were getting a “deal”.

For the record: Groupon refunded me within 72 hours. I don’t think even they were aware of the silliness that was going on in the store. I also don’t think that every Groupon deal is a scam, but this one was.



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  • John@MoneyPrinciple January 10, 2012 at 1:01 am

    Yup – maybe Groupon is not guilty themselves but they are getting a bad reputation from their client companies. We don’t go near them now having lost about £40 on two deals one of which the shop went bankrupt and closed and the other was ordered but never arrived.

  • Kylie Ofiu aka Aspiring Millionaire January 10, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    How infuriating! I am glad you got your money back. What cheek of the company to do that.

    My husband and I bought a Groupon deal recently which we plan on using soon. I hope it all goes smoothly.

    • Marissa January 11, 2012 at 5:03 am

      This was my first bad experience with them. I am sure yours will go smoothly.

  • Pam at MoneyTrail January 13, 2012 at 2:38 am

    I think you did a great thing when you refused to go through with the sale at the store and just walked out. Many people would have just given in because of the stress & chaos in the moment. And…you got a refund on top of that!

  • Glen Craig January 16, 2012 at 2:26 am

    Crazy! I’ve heard of other deals like that. It’s always buy beware. I don’t think it’s Groupon’s fault though I’ve heard some of their sales team have told retailers they could do stuff like that.

    Daily deals sites can be a great way to save money, so long as you use the deal and you are actually getting a deal.

    • Marissa January 16, 2012 at 4:11 am

      I know! I have always had great luck with them. This took me by surprise.

  • Kevin @ Debteye January 16, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    I remember that I once bought a Groupon at a clothing boutique store, and it wasn’t allowed on sale items. It was a $20 for $40, and MOST clothing was $50+. So the savings weren’t that great.

  • Andrea January 17, 2012 at 2:08 am

    I’m hearing so much of this kind of stuff about groupon that I’m getting weary of ever trying it, glad you walked out and got your money back!

  • JA @ Who Took Your Money January 17, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    The limited number of times that I have “Grouponed”, I have called (or emailed) the business offering the deal, before pulling the trigger on the Groupon. This allowed me to verify details of the offer straight from the horse’s mouth so to speak.

    While we feel bad about missing out on “deals”, most people tend to forget that that’s better than throwing money on a BAD deal.

  • John @ Married With Debt January 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Don’t feel bad. Groupon will be out of business in a year. Rarely do I see anything good on there, and their business model is so labor intensive for an “online” company.

  • Harri @ TotallyMoney January 20, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Garrr Groupon deals make me oh so mad! The Groupon sales team just doesn’t care whatsoever either about the consumer or about the retailer.

    If it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

  • Hiran April 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Sorry to hear what happened to you. I own an optical in Massachusetts and I’m about to run a Groupon. My offer is structured differently. We have and on going buy one get one special which a Groupon can be applied to. It’s on any frames in the store regardless of brand. Our lens price for single vision poly carbonate anti glare is $240.00 and our frame start at $29.99. A total of $269.99 -$150.00 credit groupon, you would have walked out paying $119.99 + $50.00 cost for the Groupon. That’s for two pairs! Sorry you were let down but, hope it won’t discourage you from doing it again . Make sure you read the fine print because, that’s how they get you.