Merchant disappears after woman buys deal on Groupon

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For millions of Americans, it's a popular way to try out a new business at a discounted price: Daily deal websites that offer discounts on merchandise or services. (KGO-TV)

For millions of Americans, it's a popular way to try out a new business at a discounted price: Daily deal websites that offer discounts on merchandise or services.

But what happens if you buy one of these deals and the merchant disappears?

Walnut Creek resident Zaffy Welch says it happened to her.

"I was having out of town guests and wanted to get my carpets cleaned,'' Welch said.

She found a deal on Groupon by a company offering to carpet-clean three rooms for just $48

"And I thought, that's a deal," Welch said. "Three small rooms."

So, she bought it. But when she called the cleaner, she says no one responded.

"I called again and said, 'I'm having company i want to make this appointment.' "

Still, no response.

"I sent an email, (saying) 'please.' I sent two messages. No one's contacted me."

Finally, Welch hired another company, then asked Groupon for her money back.

"He said he would credit me the $48."

Welch said a Groupon agent would only give a credit, and she had to use it within 24 hours. But she didn't want anything else that day. She hung up.

"So I kind of thought, I guess I've just lost the money,' " Welch said. "And then I got angry! I thought you know...if every person like me decides oh well I've lost the money, then they've got a whole bunch of money and we've got nothing. Forty-eight dollars should be in my account, not theirs. "

Welch contacted 7 On Your Side, We contacted Groupon and it restored that credit immediately.

Or did it?

"A couple of weeks went by and I saw a knife set,'' Welch recalls. She purchased the knife set from Groupon but instead of applying the credit, Groupon charged her the full price.

"Now I'm really angry because I see the charge on my credit card,'' Welch recalls.

She contacted 7 On Your Side again. We told Groupon what happened, and it refunded her money right away, telling us: "We always want our customers to have an amazing experience, or we'll work with them to make it right. We're not going to work with this business moving forward, and any customers who had issues with them can contact us for a refund."

Groupon also gave Welch an extra $10 credit. A check of the Groupon refund policy says the company will refund a customer's money if a merchant goes out of business or fails to provide the promised item.

Welch said it was a small sum but an important principle. "These small things shouldn't go uncorrected. It's just wrong.,'' she said. "Hooray, thank you Michael Finney,''

Written and produced by Renee Koury.

Related Topics:
shoppinggrouponconsumer7 On Your SidebusinessSan Francisco
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