Can you get a refund if a coupon deal disappoints?

March 18 2012 by Ellen Roseman

I often hear stories about online coupon deals that don’t live up to buyers’ expectations. How often do struggling businesses use deeply discounted vouchers, which are paid for in advance, to get an inflow of cash and shore up their finances?

I’ve written a few times about the Toronto butcher who continues to turn away coupon customers away since last spring. Two daily deal websites (Webpiggy and Buytopia) are no longer giving refunds, while Dealfind is still giving refunds.

I mentioned this case again here, along with a few others that have generated complaints. For more about those $85 Google Android tablets from Dealfind, check here.

In Ottawa, another butcher called Aubrey’s Meats had to suspend coupon redemptions until May 2012 because of financial troubles. It’s a similar story.

Groupon, Dealfind and Teambuy gave refunds, but Kahoot did not, according to Ottawa blogger Bob LeDrew and Open File Ottawa.

I think all deal websites should offer refunds if a product or service isn’t delivered in a timely way. A 30-day limit isn’t enough. Problems often take longer to appear.

Consumers hate being asked to pay in advance and waiting up to a year or two to get what they paid for. They shouldn’t be expected to finance a failing business.

Here’s my prediction: Online coupon vendors must reform their refund policies or face government intervention. This business won’t last unless it develops higher standards.

Do you think new rules are needed for group buying promotions? Have you had troubles trying to cash in any coupons you bought? Please pass along your experiences.

21 comments

  1. HR

    Mar 18 2012

    I just wanted to add to your list of problems with these coupons.

    The merchants are often unhappy with the deal they have struck with the coupon site and take that out on the customers.

    One yelled at my son and refused to honour the coupon (Quiznos).

    Another spent a half hour telling me how unhappy he was with the deal site and that he would be paid less than $15 for the $60 of meat I was buying. (I had bought 2 of these coupons and let the second one lapse, I felt so awful after leaving that store.)

    While we have had a couple of good experiences, the losses exceed the gains, so we no longer buy the ‘deals’.

    I think if a merchant is using them they should welcome their new customers and take that opportunity to show their best side. Otherwise we are both just throwing our money out the window.

  2. KC

    Mar 18 2012

    Hello Ellen, quick reply to address the $85 (worth $399) Android Tablet From Fabuless Products.

    I bought 2 units in early January of this year and did not receive them until mid-February, after many calls to Dealfind. They screwed up on how to redeem the coupon voucher.

    Ellen, you have just hit the tip of the iceburg with this one. My units would not turn on properly; the charger didn’t work; it would go blank and come back on in Chinese; and it also would run very hot with the screen pixiling out.

    What a ripoff. Here’s the kicker: They sold about 4,850 units @ $85 and then Dealfind put the Group Coupons out there again to the public in mid-February. UNBELIEVABLE !!!!

    How can Dealfind not be accountable for this MESS? They should refund everybody’s money, as long as they forward their Coupon Vouchers directly to the said companies.

    This ripoff is huge money wise. Do the math. I do not have the number of units sold for the 2nd offering by Dealfind, but something stinks here.

  3. Hannah

    Mar 20 2012

    My experience was with Offeron and a deal for bamboo sheets. I should have known it was too good to be true.

    Sure enough, after purchasing two Offeron coupons and following the instructions for ordering the two sets of sheets, I heard nothing for two months!

    I searched “National Hotel Supply” website for a phone number or even an email, but the only way you could contact this company is through an online form.

    I sent one asking for information and got a standard reply: Because of an increased demand, there was a delay.

    Then I got a Canada Post shipping confirmation sent to me, but it was not for my order and had someone else’s name on it. I tried to contact them again and again and again with no response.

    I contacted Offeron and they kept telling me to contact the company, but wouldn’t give me a phone number to call them. I persevered and became more and more angry and frustrated (and angry with myself for getting taken).

    Finally, I got one set of sheets in the mail. Lo and behold, they are definitely not bamboo sheets! They say 150 thread count and look like they were purchased from a dollar store.

    I contacted the company again and got a response that these were actually bamboo sheets but they were packaged wrong. Seriously, is anyone that gullible? I asked to return them but they wouldn’t take them.

    Then I asked Offeron for a refund on my second coupon. To their credit, they did give me one. But now I have this awful, scratching dollar store quality sheet set that I wouldn’t even give to a shelter.

    I wrote to Offeron telling them that I would never purchase from their company again because they don’t stand behind their offers.

    On a more positive note, I have had nothing but excellent customer service from Groupon. They seem to be the leaders in this field and any time I’ve had an issue they have resolved it quickly and professionally.

    They also give credit for expired Groupons for the price it was purchased for, so you don’t actually lose your money, just the deal price.

  4. Kiran

    Apr 25 2012

    I bought 2 vacation packages from Snaggies – both are for Mexico, one all inclusive, the other only the room.

    When I called to book them, the company says they dont have me on their list and I should speak to coupon company.

    I have sent 8 emails to Snaggies and the only response I have got so far is “we are working on it”.

    I am so frustrated – lost money, almost $500, and lost the vacation time too – and now it is too late for me to go anywhere.

    I really would be grateful for any help. I have totally stopped buying from coupon sites.

    The only coupon company who has been great with refunds is Teambuy. They are prompt and no questions asked. ANY HELP would be appreciated.

  5. Bordy Semchyshyn

    Jun 22 2012

    Did anyone sign up for the VHS to DVD Conversion System back on April 28? They say delivery was between 3-6 weeks. They also said that refunds would be within 7 days! Little ironic.

    I did not even get the name of the manufacturer. I spoke to a former employee yesterday, now that the offices are closed.

    I am also concerned about them having hundreds of credit vard numbers. If they accepted this last deal knowing they were going under, that is fraud. Anyone know anything else?

  6. Bordy Semchyshyn

    Jun 22 2012

    Sory, site was Kahoot in Ottawa.

    Here’s what it says at the website, http://ottawa.kahoot.ca/

    Thanks for Your Patronage!
    It has been a pleasure serving the Kahoot.ca community for the last couple of years. We truly appreciated your support.

    Customer Information
    Kahoot.ca members can access their accounts and manage valid coupons until Jan 1st, 2013.

    Click here to log In

  7. Gloria Wall

    Jul 13 2012

    This comment is about Dealfind. I’ve had some good experiences and some bad.

    First the good. In Spring 2011, I purchased 3 vouchers for a garden centre merchant with no expiration date. I went to use them this Spring but the merchant had posted notices outside the garden centre stating that they refused to honour the vouchers.

    I asked the manager why and was told that Dealfind hadn’t honoured their wishes about the vouchers, i.e., they wanted an expiration date and they wanted a limit (it was billed as unlimited) of how many vouchers a person could purchase.

    I contacted Dealfind and surprise, surprise, they are in the process of refunding my money.

    Now for the bad experience. I purchased 4 vouchers for a spa-type merchant (again no expiration date). After the garden centre fiasco, I thought I should contact my other “no expiration date” vouchers. They stated that Dealfind was supposed to put an expiration date on the voucher and since they didn’t, they wouldn’t honour my voucher.

    A highly magnanimous Dealfind says they don’t normally refund after 30 days…..BUT this one time they will give me Dealfind Dollars to equal my total expenditure.

    I don’t want to deal with Dealfind anymore, ever. I don’t trust them and won’t buy from them again.

  8. V

    Sep 17 2012

    I am having issues with DealFind and I am trying to resolve it for a few weeks. I am talking directly to them right now.

    My next step will be BBB and if that fails, then I am considering a legal action.

  9. Kristi Whaley

    Oct 23 2012

    Today I have found myself being of one of many victims of Kahoot Ottawa.

    I purchased 2 salon vouchers in 2011, but due to circumstances (out of the country), when I tried to redeem both of the vouchers, I was told that the Salon no longer is accepting the vouchers.

    It wasn’t until l tried contacting Kahoot via e-mail that l received the message to say that they have closed shop. I have $98 riding on these two deals, so I am not a happy camper tonight.

    I have been searching the web to find out what others have done who have found themselves in the same position that I am in.

    I am looking for any suggestions and yes, I tried my credit card company but because the purchase was not made within their 90 day period, I am unable to get the money credited back by them.

    At this point, Kahoot has my money and the salon is unable to honour the voucher as they only got paid once a voucher was redeemed. Any help would be appreciated!

  10. AD

    Apr 30 2013

    Well, I guess I came late to the party! My complaint is about Dealfind.

    I purchased two vouchers for dental cleanings from Appleday Dental in October 2010 with no expiry dates. When I tried using them, sure enough, they weren’t honouring them due to issues with Dealfind.

    Now I feel stuck in the middle with a loss of money and no dental cleanings. Why is the consumer being punished like this, I ask? Why didn’t Dealfind contact me as soon as they realized the merchant wouldn’t honour the vouchers?

    They must have known very quickly that their customers would not get satisfaction. Yet they did nothing, knowing they have a one-year refund policy and if they just waited, they wouldn’t have to issue refunds.

    Wow! What a scam!!

  11. Marina Gatto

    Jun 18 2013

    I bought some vouchers from Dealfind and paid over $200.00, the vendors are refusing to honor the vouchers as they are claiming that Dealfind failed to submit a payment to them. I wrote to dealfind and explained the situation and noted that the vendor is not out of business, they refused to refund my money, I replied back to their email and they send me a very generic email and close the case. How can they get away with murder. I will contact BBB, I am very interested to know if there is a class action against Dealfind, I would like to be part of this. Please advise

  12. J

    Jun 21 2013

    I bought a coupon from Dealticker for a spa package with TWC image spa. TWC cannot provide me with any appointments for months and TWC asked me to contact Dealticker for a refund.

    Dealticker refused to provide me with a refund. I have been very patient and followed DealTicker’s advice to wait for TWC image hair spa to contact me to schedule an appointment. However, this has not happened.

    Essentially, I have paid for a $35 non-service, having received absolutely nothing in return. I have not received a satisfactory response after multiple emails. It has been months.

    Dealticker finally confirmed with me today that they will not provide any refund, even though TWC cannot provide me any service.

    Don’t ever buy from Dealticker!!