Dodgy deals, unsubstantiated sales claims and unclear small print could mislead customers shopping on discount site Groupon, according to Which?.
In a snapshot investigation, the consumer champion analysed deals available on Groupon between October and November 2018, and compared the claimed original and deal prices with those available from other sources.
While Which? found plenty of genuine deals, it also found 14 instances where the deal on Groupon was either advertised with a higher RRP than that offered directly from the manufacturer, available at a cheaper price elsewhere, or had unexpected restrictions in the small print.
A tri-fold mirror advertised as £100 full price was actually available for £35 from the official retailer.
A cocktail masterclass at a London venue called The Goat was advertised for £50, reduced to £16 – suggesting a 68% saving. However, the same class was advertised on The Goat’s website for £16 as a standard price.
A spa package, including treatments and bubbly for two, was on Groupon priced at £139 – supposedly a 65 per cent discount on a standard price of £402. But the hotel’s own website was offering the deal at the same price, and claimed the full price was £94 less than advertised on Groupon.
The use of unsubstantiated higher or out-of-date retail prices is against Advertising Standard Authority’s rules, and the ASA has already upheld a number of similar complaints this year.
Which? also found examples of sneaky terms and conditions. For example, a deal offering a choice of burger, and a bottomless drink, with 52 per cent off the standard price featured a photo of a double-decker beef burger.
But hidden away in the small print was a line making clear that the burger in the photo was not part of the deal.
Which? flagged the misleading deals it found with Groupon, which was quick to respond by removing all of the deals, misleading images or prices.
But with Christmas just days away, Which? is warning shoppers looking for last-minute gift ideas to shop around and not to take every deal they find on Groupon at face value, as it may not always represent a genuine saving.
Harry Rose, Editor of Which? Magazine, said:
“Customers should be able to trust that pricing information they see on Groupon and other deal websites is accurate, so they can make an informed decision about whether to part with their cash.
“As the Christmas shopping frenzy begins, consumers should be on guard and not take every deal at face value. Groupon must also stringently review its deals to ensure there is no risk of customers being misled.”
Notes to editor
- The snapshot investigation looked at deals listed on Groupon between October and November 2018. It compared the claimed original and deal prices given, and prices from other retailers, manufacturers and activity organisers.
- Groupon said it reviews deals as part of its constant review of pricing practices, and that transparency on pricing is incredibly important to it.
- Which? also contacted the activity organisers and manufacturers to find out how they interact with Groupon, but only two responded. One supplier told us that they sell their goods to other companies, who then resell to Groupon. This makes it particularly tricky to know exactly where your goods are coming from, and whether you are actually getting a good deal or not.
Please find a list of misleading deals with higher or unsubstantiated retail prices below:
|Product||Groupon full price quoted (RRP)||Manufacturer RRP (or price as stated)||Groupon discount price|
|Carmen massaging foot warmer||£59.99||£49.99||£14.98|
|Goat cocktail masterclass||£50||£16||£16|
|Himalayan salt lamp||£31.99||£21.99-£25.99||£23.98|
|HP 304 printer ink||£13.27||£9.89||£9.95|
|My Play medieval castle||£99.90||£19.99 (sale price on Amazon)||£21.98|
|GloBrite LED Moon Lamp||£39.99||£13.99 (cost price on official website)||£9.98|
|‘Pass the Snowman’ Christmas game||£14.99||£7.89 (sale price on Amazon)||£5.98|
|Persil 130-Washes Family Pack*||£102.99||£21.99||£14.99|
|Spa offer – spa access, treatment and bubbly for two||£402||£308 full price (offer price of £139 directly)||£139|
*We suspect the price for this deal was a mistake, although Groupon didn’t confirm. The price was removed before we contacted Groupon with our findings.
Other deals Which? found include:
- A wedding package advertised at £3,000 with 58% off the claimed full price of £7,205. However it was only this expensive on a Saturday in December, in January and February, it would have cost £5,205 at full price.
- Silentnight Airmax Mattress Toppers cost around half the original price shown on Groupon, via other retailers.