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Flowers may be one way of saying you’re sorry, but Groupon.com doesn’t even have that option: the coupon website is faced with thousands of angry and upset customers after it’s “deal of the day” went terribly awry: customers are crying scam, accusing the flower delivery service of jacking up prices to Groupon voucher buyers and ruining Valentine's Day through late delivery.
The recent Groupon deal, which some customers claim was false advertising, was marketed as $20 bucks off of $40 worth of FTD flowers -- but the deal quickly became “no deal” when customers began accusing the floral delivery service of of deceptiveness. One of the world's largest flower delivery services claims that the upped pricing was only a “glitch” in its system, but Groupon customers weren’t buying the theory. Customers headed to the Groupon website in droves, almost immediately after voucher purchase, to cry "foul".
What FTD claims was accidental tends to look a bit suspicious: after purchasing the February 2011 Groupon voucher for the floral company, customers were then directed to a sub-site of the regular FTD.com website. That sub-site just happened to be listing different prices – notably, higher rates.
Unfortunately for the flower service, as Groupon customers began noticing the price discrepancy, word spread faster than wildfire online. Roughly 3,300 consumers had purchased the Groupon.com FTD “coupon” before ordering capabilities for the voucher were ceased. Those in hopes of a Valentine’s Day deal had those hopes dashed, in what Groupon's FTD customers have been calling a ripoff.
Many customers felt that the increased FTD pricing structure basically rendered their Groupon purchase valueless. Unrelated to price hikes, but equally a problem, other Groupon customers complaints included a delivery issue: the flower delivery service told some consumers that their flower orders wouldn’t arrive before February 15 – a deal-killer in terms of the Valentine's Day holiday.
So just what went wrong in Groupon’s February FTD deal? Offered February 10, 2011, the Groupon deal claimed that FTD customers would get $40 of flowers for $20 bucks. Instead Groupon customers found themselves in a scenario that reeked of misadvertising or an outright ripoff: forty bucks of flowers soon dwindled to about thirty bucks for some customers.
The Groupon deal had specified that the purchased voucher couldn’t be used on FTD flowers or floral arrangements that were simultaneously on sale. Groupon’s FTD customers who selected “sale” flower arrangements through FTD were instead charged the non-sale, original price – what many customers considered the opposite of a “deal,” or even deceptive advertising. Groupon customers were charged $5-$10 bucks higher for the FTD flowers.
What made FTD’s actions suspicious to many customers was the fact that FTD had an actual sub-site, within its regular website, where Groupon directed its voucher customers.
The Groupon website closed its FTD flower “Groupon” early and the company claims to be working with FTD.com, in efforts to refund customers who claim they’ve been ripped off by the florist. Despite selling 3,300 coupon deals, the Groupon FTD coupon didn’t even get its full run once customers became angry or even irate – and began commenting on the actual Groupon.com website. The FTD voucher was cut off a full day early by Groupon.
Both companies seem to be denying any idea of collusion -- and FTD claims that the increased pricing issues on its FTD sub-site weren’t intentional, but customer comments indicate that consumers aren’t really buying the higher prices as being quite so accidental.
FTD could certainly use some positive PR advice. FTD Group President Rob Apatoff told the AP media outlet in a released statement: "At no time did we [FTD or FTD.com] inflate any prices. Absolutely not. Because there was some confusion with a few, we decided to step up and do the right thing to make sure everybody was happy."
Well, now it’s all clear. Or not. Wait, what did he just say?
It appears that someone seems to be in dire need of PR assistance: the FTD President felt the need to express his opinion that, either way, Groupon customers are getting better deals than the FTD website’s sale prices.
So, all you Groupon customers should just be happy –you weren’t totally ripped off, after all. You just didn’t quite get what was advertised.
The FTD President’s sentiment hasn’t seemed to soothe customers, who spent money in purchasing an actual voucher via Groupon. He may as well have said “so what if FTD ripped you off or deceptively advertised a deal of far more than what you’re actually getting -- you’re still gaining at least a few bucks on the deal.”
Groupon had its own statement, and apparently some better PR advice than its counterpart: "To make this right, we've [Groupon.com] worked together with FTD [floral delivery] to make sure that discounts available on FTD.com will now also be available to use with the Groupon. For those who already purchased items that were on sale on FTD.com, FTD will automatically issue a refund on the credit card used with the difference as additional savings." Groupon.com President Rob Solomon says Groupon and FTD decided to credit the accounts of people who bought the sale items through Groupon, providing customers the difference between the FTD sale price and the price listed on the Groupon FTD sub-site.
The accusation against the FTD company may not come as a huge surprise to customers who feel like they’ve already suffered at the hands of the flower delivery service: the floral company’s already suffered a big hit to its reputation – particularly over the past several years – with a litany of angry customer reviews online. The range of consumers complaints includes arguments that the FTD company hasn’t delivered flowers on time, has delivered dead or partially dying flowers, has delivered the wrong floral bouquet, never delivered flower orders at all, or even offered to deliver flowers because of its own error – but then incorrectly charged the ordering customers a second time.
Many online customer complaints seem to revolve around a recurring theme: an FTD refusal to make good on its flower orders, or to refund customer credit cards when orders don’t arrive on time or at all – with FTD claiming that a refund can’t be issued because the florist itself claims flower delivery was made to the recipient.
With what is assumed to be a little “push” – or shove – from its “friends” at Groupon, FTD is offering refunds in combination with the Groupon company: customers who feel like they’ve been ripped off can call the Groupn dedicated phone line about the FTD fiasco: 855-645-6214. Upset consumers can alternately contact the Groupon.com website by email firstname.lastname@example.org for FTD credits and refunds relating to the February 2011 voucher.