It was supposed to be a match made in discount Valentine's Day Heaven. Groupon, the beloved coupon site, and FTD, a go-to for flowers, partnered earlier in the month to bring customers $20 off a flower purchase of $40 or more. Nearly 3,300 people bought the deal. But both companies got clobbered with complaints when it appeared that FTD inflated prices for some Groupon members who tried to apply the savings to their purchase.
I'm trying to wrap my head around how this went down. Was it like, Groupon holders went on the special Groupon site FTD.com/Groupon and saw bouquets for $60? But then thinking, "Hey, I could be getting screwed," they made their friend check the regular FTD site at the same time? Kinda like when you think someone has limited your access to their profile on Facebook, and you make someone else who is friends with that person show you what their profile looks like on their account? (Or so I've heard that's what creepy stalker-type people often do.)
At any rate, the trouble didn't end with the potentially inflated prices. Shoppers also said that the service and shipping charges were hiked higher than normal. Still, others found that bouquets would not be delivered before February 15, the day after Valentine's Day. That's really ridiculous!
In response, FTD President Rob Apatoff stated that the site wasn't trying to scam their Groupon-using customers. In a formal statement he said:
We understand that some Groupon customers were disappointed they were unable to combine the discounts. We apologize for any confusion this offer may have caused.
Apparently, the company was remorseful enough about the complaints that it decided to credit the customers' accounts to give them the sale price, even if they don't ask for it.
Then, Groupon decided it had to make good, too, and sent out an e-mail that said:
To make this right, we've worked together with FTD to make sure that discounts available on FTD.com will now also be available to use with your Groupon. For those of you who already purchased items that were on sale on FTD.com, FTD will automatically issue you a refund on the credit card you used with the difference as additional savings.
It's great that FTD and Groupon tried to do what they could to appease customers, but I'm not sure if anyone who bought the Groupon for FTD actually came out of this happy. Probably only a small percentage of them was able to rectify the situation in time to order something for delivery today.
Groupon's had a few deals lately that have turned customers off. (They upset people during the Super Bowl when they aired a commercial that was insensitive about the situation in Tibet.) I'm a fan of the site, and I've bought more than a few Groupons of my own in the past few months, but I have also noticed that if a certain deal is really popular, it increases the likelihood that it's going to get all fouled up. Maybe it's that the companies can't handle all the enthusiastic Groupon buyers all at once? I don't know. You'd think if anyone could handle it, flower giant FTD could.
This debacle seems like a classic communication breakdown and/or flat-out scam. Both companies are probably walking on eggshells with their customers now, as they very well should. Why? Because, as Groupon should very well know by now ... NO ONE messes with discount shoppers! Especially not when we're shopping for loved ones!
Do you think that FTD was trying to scam Groupon users?
Image via Cody Schwabe/Flickr