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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rotten deal

Like most everyone, I love a good deal. (Everyone, that is, except Mike's grandmother who thinks if something is on sale there must be a problem with it.) I keep my eyes on the daily deal offers like Eversave and Groupon.

Last summer, I bought a Groupon to a restaurant near my office. $10 for $20 worth of food to South of Chicago Pizza and Beef. And then I promptly forgot about it. Lucky for me, I remembered the deal last week. I printed out the certificate and made note to use it before the January 24, 2012 expiration date. 

Life being what it is, the morning of January 24th arrived and I still had not used my offer. So I planned to  go to South of Chicago for lunch with some co-workers. When we arrived, the smell was heavenly. Fresh bread and melty cheese. Little did I know something was going to stink real soon.

Before I could even look at the menu, the cashier saw the Groupon voucher in my hand and said, "You can't use your Groupon. It's expired."

"No, the expiration date is January 24. That's today, so I have until the end of today to use it."

"No. It's Groupon's rules. It's expired and you can't use it." Then I looked beyond her shoulder to see a white board with the same SOL message. 

"Well," I said, "Then we're leaving." And my two co-workers and I went down the street to Tortas Mexican sandwich shop, where we had a delicious lunch (I recommend the #4 - Luis Miguel), although the service was a little inconsistent.

When I got back to the office, I lodged a complaint with Groupon, took a poll of my Facebook friends regarding expiration dates (all 19 people who commented agreed with me), and left a message on the South of Chicago Facebook page:

"Really disappointed that you did not honor my Groupon Indianapolis today. The expiration says January 24, 2012. I should have had until close of business today to use it. And I was not the only customer turned away. The ill will and bad experience that I will be sure to share with others will cost more than the $10 you would have eaten had you honored my Groupon."

I was going to blog about the experience, but opted to go to bed early. Plus, by then I had simmered down a little bit. 

It wasn't until the middle of the night last night when I was awake (as usual) that I read South of Chicago's replies to my FB message. The first reply said,

"You can use your coupon for face value up until July 22."

Funny, that gal at the counter didn't mention that. Just nope. Sorry. If she had offered that, I might have been willing to accept it and place an order using my so-called-expired certificate for $10 off. That might have taken the edge off some of my frustration.

Then I read the second reply and got angry all over again. I'll let you see it for yourself:


Seriously? One of the benefits of being engaged in social media as a business is so you can communicate with your customers, resolve difficulties and let others see how you take care of those who try to support your business. I think South of Chicago Pizza and Beef missed that in Social Media 101. 

There was no "I'm sorry for your experience" or "There was some confusion" or even "Please call us at xxx-xxxx so we can work on making this better." Just a childish mocking of me -- who you can be assured will never be a customer. 

On a positive note, I also received feedback from Groupon, which said:

I'm really sorry for the trouble with this! You were correct in your understanding of how the expiration works. I'll talk to the business to see if we can get that cleared up for them. I've just canceled this order and issued $10 Groupon credit to your account. The credit is available in your account immediately and does not expire.

At least someone knows a little something about how to treat customers.


Unknown said...

This is terrible! And in my opinion, a company like this deserves to NOT have a Facebook page or a business- How rude! One can only think that the page was hacked....something tells me that it was not! Lesson learned- Check those dates. Although, I have always been under the impression the coupon was good through midnight the day on it........

Kris said...

Amy, report them to the Better Business Bureau. You can send a complaint online.

Michele said...

That is crazy! Their second Facebook response looks like something my 4th graders would write, not a business. I'm glad Groupon is taking care of you.

CWMartin said...

I would call SOC's main office and inform them of how you were treated, both in person and on FB. At least one person in their organization is holding a job they don't deserve.

varangianguard said...

very disappointing.

Mindy said...

I. Am. Appalled. Good for you for sticking to your guns. And thanks for sharing so I know where NOT to eat if I visit Indy!

Anonymous said...

I had the same experience with the Groupon and left reviews on every site I could think of detailing our experience. When I read this it made my blood boil. I went to their FB page and they'd deleted your post along with their comments. That didn't sit well with me (as someone who writes social media strategy for clients), so I grabbed your screenshot and reposted it on their page with a warning that it's also making its rounds on the various review sites where they wouldn't be able to delete it.

I try to support local businesses whenever I can—even if it means paying a little more— but if they're going to treat customers this way (and there's plenty of evidence that they have no intention of improving), then I'd rather see them go under. Bob, the owner, is bringing it on himself.

Anonymous said...

Wow. What's with the second comment. Talk about unprofessional.

Anonymous said...

So nevermind that I reposted this on their Facebook page. Some guy named Dan Czilli just called everyone that tried to use their Groupon "douchebags" and said he'd kick every last one out of his restaurant, then the page admin deleted the whole thing. Kinda glad to be done with that bit of ridiculousness, though. Apparently people who try to get what they paid for are "douchebags". He went over and left his mark on Yelp, too, ending with the well thought-out and articulated "F!&# all the Groupon whiners!" Winners, all.

kimybeee said...

I think I would make sure that groupon was aware of this behavior. That is slander to their company and process andone bad experience can ruin it for everybody. I first thought that maybe the server or some goober had access to the fb account, but it would appear that the whole bunch at that establishment may be rotten!!! As for deleting after it is posted, the damage is already done!!!

Unknown said...

Look at you! You have the people up in arms against rudeness! Awesome! Sorry that you had the terrible experience, but it's refreshing to see the support here for you and against the business. I was starting to think no one cared much about integrity in the Big World.

Eternal Lizdom said...

Well, that is definitely a place of business that won't get my money. And I'm gonna share this post and encourage people to read your experience and the comments. Completely unacceptable.

And good for Groupon. I've had good customer service experiences with them before, too.

Eternal Lizdom said...

1. I suggest leaving a link to this post so people see the screenshot on Yelp, Foursquare, Urbanspoon, etc.

2. Can you add share buttons to the post to make it easier to tweet and FB post them?

Garret said...

Definitely share the heck out of this story and even repost on FB from time to time just to keep it fresh.

Rebeca @ The Average Parent said...

Yikes, this seems to be a growing trend....companies bashing their customers on facebook. They must not be interested in preserving their profitability. Or, maybe they're just interested in serving the jerks of the world, because that's all they'll get. Sorry you had to be on the receiving end of it. Totally uncool.

Anonymous said...

And it continues…I've now been banned from their Facebook page for reposting your original post (not that it's any kind of loss). Just thought you'd like to know. Apparently anything other than a glowing review will get your comments deleted and will get you banned. Rather than learning from customer feedback, he'd rather just ignore it. I imagine if he continues to conduct business that way, it'll come back to bite him eventually. But I think I'm done fighting for now. He's just not worth it. Glad the word is getting out, though!

SensiblySara said...

HOLY MOLY!! :( I am so sorry for your experience!! You are right - Groupon did the absolute correct thing, the eatery needs to have a little lesson in manners (at the VERY least).

I am dealing with a similar issue with a branded giftcard. It has an expiration of 02/12, and should have close to $10 left on it. However, when I went to check the balance today (2/7/12) it has been wiped clean. I have emailed the company I won it from and they are working to see why I don't have until the end of the month to use it.

It's CRAZY. I have come across more and more of this inability to be exact with information. :(

Rachel said...

I'm totally confused. Who forced them to do the Groupon deal? And why are they being such big whiners about it when it brought customers in?

I'm shocked at the second comment... SHOCKED.

I'm glad Groupon did the right thing.