Misleading Groupon Ads Flagged by UK Watchdog

    January 5, 2011
    Chris Crum

Groupon has had a few ads flagged after some issues with the Advertising Standards Authority, an independent watchdog for ad standards in the UK. 

The ads in question were found to be misleading, because they failed to make clear certain terms, such as the fact that one person had to pay full price for a meal to get a second one at a discounted price, or that another deal didn’t apply to weekends. One "misleadingly exaggerated" the savings it offered, according to the ASA. 

"We told Groupon to ensure that all significant terms and conditions of promotions were made clear in future and that they did not exaggerate the extent of any savings that could be achieved," says the ASA. 

Groupon’s response to complaints about the ads, according to the ASA:

ASA Talks Groupon AdsGroupon said they had no commercial interest in misleading their customers; if an offer was poorly described on their website, that detrimentally affected their relationship with customers and business partners, undermining the investment they made in acquiring both. Further, in presenting in excess of 50 deals per day, there was a likelihood of some degree of human error. However, they sought to address that through extensive staff training and by incorporating quality control safeguards. (Via TechEye)

More details about Groupon’s response on a case-by-case basis can found here. We’ve contacted Groupon for further comment, and will update this post accordingly. 

Groupon has other things to worry about at the moment, besides its quality control practices. CEO Andrew Mason announced yesterday that the company is suing a company known as Scoopon in Australia, which acquired the company name Groupon Pty Limited and controls the domain Groupon.com.au. This has presented a hurdle for the company’s Australian expansion, and Groupon is now operating under Stardeals in that country – at least for the time being. Mason said the suit could take over a year to be resolved, but is hopeful that the company will take a generous cash offer instead of forcing it to play out.