ASA Adjudication on MyCityDeal Ltd
MyCityDeal Ltd t/a
1 Liverpool Street
27 April 2011
Number of complaints:
A sales promotion on the website Groupon MyCityDeal was headed "Today's deal: £9 instead of £30 for a 20 Minute Garra Rufa Fish Natural Pedicure for Two People at Wonderfeet".
Further text stated "Fine Print - 1 voucher per two people, multiple may be purchased - Voucher valid for 2 months, 7 days per week - No need to book in advance but please take voucher and security codes with you - Please call 07863 XXX XXX for further information - Not valid with other offers".
The complainant challenged whether the promotion was conducted fairly, because when they attempted to redeem the voucher they were told that it could not be used at the spa.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
Groupon confirmed that the voucher was for use at the Wonderfeet spa, and the promotion had been advertised on the Liverpool section of their website during 9 and 10 December 2010, and on the Manchester section of the website during 24 and 25 December 2010. They said they had undertaken the usual due diligence with the Partner company, Wonderfeet, to ensure the promotion would be run as advertised.
They said that it appeared that some customers had been incorrectly told by a member of Wonderfeets staff, who was no longer with the company, that the promotion could only be redeemed at another spa location. Groupon said that was not the case and the offer had been redeemed at Wonderfeet by other customers.
They provided a copy of e-mail correspondence between Groupon and Wonderfeet, in which Groupon asked whether the problem may have been due to staff not being aware of the promotion at the beginning of the redemption period. Wonderfeets response stated that they had had one or two staff issues which may have caused an unforeseen error.
Groupon said that they did not think that voucher holders had been turned away due to high demand. They said they had carefully calculated Wonderfeets capacity to accommodate voucher holders, adding that it was not in their commercial interests to oversubscribe a promotion. They said that, in fact, there was a low redemption rate for the vouchers, and they had been informed by Wonderfeet that that was what had caused the internal staffing issue.
Groupon said the action taken by the member of Wonderfeets staff was outside their control, and they could not legitimately be expected to foresee the situation arising, nor would they expect it to be repeated. They said they dealt with such issues very pragmatically as they were made aware of them, and once they became aware of the problem they worked hard to resolve the issue, which they did successfully. They said that sometimes local businesses required extra levels of support, and they always did whatever was required to ensure that their promotions were fulfilled. They added that Groupons refund policy was such that all the affected Wonderfeet voucher holders who contacted them had been fully refunded.
The ASA noted Groupons explanation.
We acknowledged that the actions of a member of Wonderfeets staff were outside Groupons control, and we understood from Groupon that they had fully refunded those voucher holders who had complained. However, we considered that Groupon had not given us sufficient information for us to be able to judge the scale of the problem, or the specific actions they took to rectify the situation. We therefore concluded that Groupon had not demonstrated that they had taken all reasonable measures to ensure voucher holders had been dealt with fairly and honourably, nor that voucher holders had not been given cause for unnecessary disappointment. We concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 8.1, 8.2 (Sales Promotions) and 8.14 (Administration).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Groupon to ensure voucher holders were not given cause for unnecessary disappointment in future.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)