Earlier this year, I wrote about Groupon and gift card laws.
Since writing the article, Groupon has changed it's Terms to take more responsibility for the Vouchers it issues on behalf of merchants. Now they specifically state,the "paid for" portion of the Groupon Voucher does not expire.
"...applicable law may provide that the Merchant is responsible for honoring the cash value that you paid for your Voucher for a period of time beyond the expiration date stated on the Voucher."
"The purchase value does not expire until it is used or refunded...The promotional value will expire by the date stated on the face of the GROUPON unless applicable law prohibits the promotional value from expiring."
A Good Move By Groupon
In my February post, I brought up the notion of gift card cash back laws and why it's obvious state legislators did not intend to include "promotional portions" of gift cards under the law.
Here's a short recap:
If a consumer paid $5 for $10 worth of services, they might be able to use just $5.01 worth of services and demand a cash refund for the $4.99. This implies a consumer would pay just one penny for $5.01 worth of services. That just down't seem right.
At the same time, it's likely state legislators will see the "paid for" portion of a Groupon Voucher as a something very similar to a gift card. Gift card laws are implimneted to protect consumers from having money drained from thier pocket, not to protect promtional value in the fourm of a coupon.
Why It's Not Enough
From the looks of it, Groupon is currently disclosing the promotional value's expiration date, not the paid for value on the actual Voucher. Here is a Groupon from today:
This could easily be seen as a deceptive business practice. After all, most consumers who own such an offer would conclude the value of the Groupon is worthless after the expiration date. In fact, earlier this year, Amway settled gift card lawsuit which has some striking similarities to Groupon's current business practice of placing just one expiration date on each Voucher.
Groupon should specifically include expiration detail for both portions of each Groupon directly on the Voucher.
Clarification Is Needed
Daily deal sites are under a slew of attacks form consumer advocates and lawyers. Just today I learned Connecticut's Attorney General is looking into whether or not Groupon's fall under Connecticut Gift Card Law. I look forward to the day when this is all cleared up. It will be benifical to both consumers and the companies who issue daily deals with the hope of growing their business.