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Slow or no deal for some 'daily deal' sites

April 2, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Everyone wants to get a good deal, but many of those amazing "daily deal" offers that pop up in your e-mail aren't working out as advertised. The complaints about some of the major daily-deal companies are piling up.

Pay $15 for $30 worth of food; get three oil changes for $49; or train your dog for half the price: These kinds of deals are hard to resist.

That's exactly how bachelor Jay Johnson felt when he saw an offer for some housecleaning help. He thought he was "cleaning up" with his coupon.

"I went to try and schedule the cleanings by calling the vendor and the cleaning company never called me back," said Johnson.

So he phoned the daily-deal company that sent him the offer he purchased, but they sent him back to the cleaning company. Again, no response, and as time passed and more dust accumulated, the voucher eventually expired.

"You pay for the service and you put effort into calling and trying to chase someone down. As time goes on it gets frustrating," said Johnson.

Johnson is just one of a number of frustrated daily-deal consumers. One multi-million-dollar class-action suit claims a company sold deals that expired in an "unreasonably short period of time."

Meantime, Better Business Bureau records reveal more than 2,000 consumer complaints against major daily-deal companies, a majority of them filed this past year. The BBB blames the popularity of the offers combined with overwhelmed businesses.

"Consumers have been so quick to take advantage of those opportunities, especially with the service industry, that that small company couldn't keep up with the volume," said Carrie Hurt, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau.

The daily-deal industry says they hear the complaints, and things are changing.

"The daily-deal sites now have learned from this problem and are creating schedulers who work with that service establishment and create a process of how many redemptions they can take by day so that they're not overwhelmed," said Bonnie Carlson, president and CEO of the Brand Activation Association.

The Brand Activation Association says daily deals are still a win-win for customers.

"Consumers get a great deal and it gives them a chance to try something new," said Carlson.

Experts say if you think you got duped, contact the site that sold you the coupon and ask for your money back.

Jay Johnson and his dust bunnies are still waiting for the cleaning company and the daily-deal site to call him back.

"I don't think that I would buy one of these online deals for a vendor that I wasn't already familiar with," said Johnson.

When the daily-deal site that sold Johnson the cleaning services was contacted, they refunded the amount he paid for the offer. The site said it always refunds the price consumers pays for a voucher if a business closes, an event is canceled or if the business doesn't accept the coupon offer.


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