Groupon faces growing list of grouses

The Consumers Association of Singapore said it received 26 complaints against Groupon last year, up from 20 in 2014. Yesterday, there were still people who said they have not received the items they ordered for Christmas last year.
The Consumers Association of Singapore said it received 26 complaints against Groupon last year, up from 20 in 2014. Yesterday, there were still people who said they have not received the items they ordered for Christmas last year. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

Bad customer service, goods not delivered, fake luxury items and merchants that have closed down.

These are just some of the complaints that Singapore-based customers of Groupon have made against the daily deals firm on its Facebook page.

The Consumers Association of Singapore said it received 26 complaints against Groupon last year, up from 20 in 2014.

The list of complaints on Groupon's Facebook page appears to be growing daily but the largest number of complaints involve orders for last year's Christmas season. Yesterday, there were still people who said they have not received the items they ordered for Christmas last year.

Ms Amanda Leong, 25, who declined to disclose her occupation, said she bought a remote-controlled flying fish balloon, costing $25.90, on Nov 22 for her friend, who was visiting Singapore during the Christmas period.

Till today, the balloon has not arrived, even though she has contacted Groupon several times.

She said: "All their replies were templates, and insincere. I lost faith in them and hope the authorities can deal with them."

Similarly, another Groupon customer, who wanted to be known only as Faris, said he bought two deals from Groupon in December. He bought items such as chocolates to give as Christmas gifts but said he never received them, despite paying for them. He decided to ask for a refund, which he got last month.

When contacted, a Groupon Asia-Pacific spokesman said only 3 per cent of orders missed their "delivery promise" during last year's holiday period. "We are always very clear on setting expectations around fulfilment - especially during the busy holiday season," she said. Last year was an exception, she added, due to some disruptions in customer care operations.

Singapore customer care operations are split between the Singapore head office and regional support centres, including those in Chennai, India. The floods in Chennai severely affected the operations of its office in the city, and led to a complete evacuation and ceasing of operations for several days in December, she said.

"We are pleased to say, however, that our operations have recovered and we are working hard to respond to everyone in the quickest manner possible," she added.

In September last year, Mr Rich Williams, the company's chief operating officer, said in a blog post that Groupon will cease operations in nearby countries like Thailand and the Philippines. But a Groupon spokesman told The Straits Times that there is "absolutely no business issue at Groupon Singapore".

Several customers who were unable to locate the firm at an address that was previously listed on its website had asked on Groupon's Facebook page whether it still has an office in Singapore. When The Straits Times visited the HarbourFront Centre address, it appeared to be empty.

A Groupon spokesman, in response to queries, said the new Groupon Singapore offices are located at UE Square in Clemenceau Avenue. The Straits Times visited the UE Square offices yesterday, and the firm's website now lists the new address.

Customers also said some merchants that they bought deals from through Groupon, like restaurants, had closed down. The spokesman said: "If a customer is unable to redeem their Groupon because of a business closure, they can contact us for a full credit or refund."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2016, with the headline 'Groupon faces growing list of grouses'. Print Edition | Subscribe