Reader Aaron is annoyed at Groupon. He bought a voucher for a local restaurant: a sushi place, to be exact, but the type of business doesn’t matter all that much. What does matter is that he paid for a voucher, which required that he make a reservation at the restaurant through Groupon’s app. This wouldn’t be a problem if he could get a reservation.
“When I tried to make a reservation through the Groupon app there were very few options,” he explains. This wouldn’t be a problem, but the voucher is only valid at the reservation time that customers schedule through the Groupon app. He happened to be near the restaurant at the time, so he walked over to ask about the limited reservation times. It turns out they’re using Groupons to drum up business during off-peak hours. “I walked down the street to the restaurant and the hostess informed me that the Groupon only is valid 5:00PM-6:30PM and then after 9:00PM,” he explains. “On the website it says ‘Offer valid only at scheduled reservation time’ which seems scammy to me.”
Calling it a “scam” is going too far, we think, but this is definitely something that you should look out for when buying restaurant vouchers. The good news is that Aaron got Groupon to refund his purchase: first in the form of credit on the site, then as a refund on his credit card when he requested one of those instead.
Update: Groupon just wrote to us to comment on this post. A spokesperson notes:
Our customers love having the certainty of a reservation tied to the purchase of a Groupon because they know exactly when they can use it before they buy it. They’re not left with something they’re unable to use.
All of our purchases are backed by the Groupon Promise, which states that we will always honor your refund requests if a business closes permanently, an event is canceled or rescheduled, or a business refuses to accept your unredeemed Groupon voucher.