/ Shopping

Sitting comfortably? Groupon advertises the wrong beanbag

Groupon website

We’ve been experiencing a mini Twitter storm all day after being alerted to a mis-advertised offer on Groupon. The product featured in the group buying site’s email this morning led us to an entirely different product.

This morning Lucy Marcus (@lucymarcus) alerted us to a Groupon offer for a ‘Fatboy Buggle Up beanbag’ on Twitter. She didn’t contact us because of its tasty 60% discount, she got in touch because the product on offer wasn’t the one advertised, making the new £89 price a little hard to swallow.

Clicking on the email deal would take you to Groupon’s website, where the product was named as a ‘BigDaddy beanbag’. The beanbags certainly looked similar, but as Lucy explained, it wasn’t made by Fatboy.

And Fatboy beanbags are apparently a much-coveted product, with over 500 snapped up over the course of just a few hours. However, Twitter user Julie Broadfoot (@juliebee) didn’t fall for the offer, telling us that ‘It’s definitely not the same product. I’ve wanted a Fatboy one for ages.’

Following a number of complaints, Groupon’s UK Twitter account quickly told us that ‘We can confirm this deal is legitimate’ and then followed up with the hollow tweet, ‘We will take your comments on board. Thanks.’

At last, Groupon removed the offer

The deal had been available for a good 10 hours by this point, and Groupon had failed to give us a definitive response as to whether the beanbag was a legitimate Fatboy or not, despite challenging them to do so. Thankfully, Fatboy, the manufacturer whose name had been used to advertise the incorrect product, responded:

‘We had nothing to do with the Groupon deal. Weren’t genuine Fatboy articles. So, at this point, Groupon has decided to withdraw the offer.’

That was certainly good news, until we found that the offer was still available to purchase through the email. It took Groupon until 3.30pm to remove it completely, despite the group buying site being aware of this issue for most of the day – allowing hundreds of customers to put up hard cash for it.

After contacting them over the phone (and being on hold for a good 10 minutes) Groupon’s customer service team confirmed that all customers who had purchased this beanbag would be given a full refund. It’s just a shame that it couldn’t let us know immediately through Twitter.

When our Money researcher Nick Frankcom wrote about group buying sites earlier this year, a small majority (38%) of you said that you didn’t use group buying sites. Perhaps it’s errors like these that have put you off. Have you ever suffered any issues with buying from Groupon or other group buying sites, or was their customer service up to scratch?

Steve Wiggins says:
1 August 2011

Have received email saying that the newsletter contained wrong product and brand information and that I will be refunded in upto 5 days time!! It didn’t take them 5 days to take the money out of my account it took less than 5 minutes!! Have looked at companies website that were offering the deal and where you had to go to order it with your Groupon Voucher and there were no other beanbags available and info was exactly same as on voucher. Surely participating companies get to proof read what is going to be sent out to avoid issues like this?? Truth is tha they clearly underestimated how many people were going to take up the offer and would not have had the stock to deal with it so cancelled it immediately. FEEL VERY CHEATED

Interesting that it takes 5 days for a refund. When I was researching my article the majority of the time when problems occured – albeit not as blatant as this – people seem to be getting refunds. However, those refunds may take the form of credit for the site rather than cash.

Furthermore, typical consumer protection, such as Section 75 for credit card purchases or chargeback may not apply for these kinds of transactions. If anyone has experience of this please let us know.

As for the misrepresentation issue, remember you’ve got protection under the Distance Selling Regulations, although this only applies to products, not services. So if something arrives and you’ve changed your mind, you can send it back wihtin a few weeks. However, if it’s faulty or not as described (which is the case here), you could also quote the Sale of Goods act. The crucial difference is that under Sale of Goods you shouldn’t be out of pocket, so the retailer would have to pay the cost of returning the item. For something like a beanbag, that could be substantial!

Where are trading standards in all of this?
Mis-representation at the point of sale is a serious matter.

Filemot says:
1 August 2011

the Twitterati did pretty well to get this dealt with quickly. Groupon like any other retailer needs to investigate whether the claim that something is *wrong* is valid or not, especially when the complaint doesn’t come from the brandowner but from a consumer. Certainly they grabbed everybody’s initial interest by using the Fatboy brand so it looks like a case of trademark infringment when the product was not made by the brand owner.

I have never heard anything good about GROUPON, only bad things. Hope they get a huge fine to focus their minds

sophielondon says:
1 August 2011

And if you didn’t receive this offer via Twitter then equally frustrating that the offer was withdrawn before its expiry time. I genuinely wanted the item as listed on the mail link: bigdaddy beanbag from ILocal. Hope Groupon relist this item more accurately soon.

Floortje Möller says:
2 August 2011

Hi all,

The company Fatboy learned very early about this deal as well through e-mails, twitter, etc.
When it became clear that the products offered were no genuine Fatboy products, the rumour even started that Fatboy backed out the last minute from the deal and Groupon had to find an alternative. Which isn’t the case, Fatboy was never in contact with Groupon for such a cooperation and had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Luckily, our attorney contacted Groupon quickly and by the end of the day, we have found a satisfactory solution for this issue. Thank you all so much for helping out in this matter and making clear that the offer was in fact very confusing and raised a lot of objections!

Floortje Möller
Fatboy the original B.V.

Steve says:
2 August 2011

I was amazed when I saw this offer! I bought one of these for £199.00 a week ago from a website with a shop in Ascot and at the time that was the cheapest I could find in the whole UK. Thankfully having read about what happened regarding the ad I can sit comfortably (on my genuine Buggle-up) knowing I still got a great deal!

Cj Holding says:
2 August 2011

Well done FATBOY®. As a LEGITIMATE retailer of the FATBOY® range, i’m glad to hear Groupon realised to remove that company’s ‘offer’ – as they are certainly NOT FATBOY® & should not be promoted as so. NOR should they be using the fatboy images © either, surely ? … trading standards & all that ?!?!?!

Groupon UK says:
2 August 2011

Thank you for your comments, and we apologise again for this unfortunate situation. The offer has now been withdrawn and all will be refunded. The problems were due to a technical error – we would never intentionally mislead our customers. On the topic of refunds – they take up to 5 working days, and usually less. They leave our account instantly but it can take that long for receiving banks to process the transaction. Please get in touch with our customer services team at support@groupon.co.uk if you have any further questions.

Looking in as an outsider yesterday, it appeared that groupon’s customers had alerted the company, but nothing changed.
Which? were alerted to the problem also and started asking questions.
Fatboy’s legal team got involved, then suddenly things at groupon started to move.

Why wasn’t action taken when customer’s alerted groupon in the first instance?
If it was my company and a customer had alerted me to this problem, after looking at it, I would have immediately pulled the offer/product – this is what “customer service” is all about!
It should not require searching questions from which? on a public forum (twitter) or legal representation from a manufacturer to generate a response and act.

I repeat my question again, where were trading standards in all of this?
Taxpayer’s pay a fortune for them to act and protect the public, as yet I have not heard one word from them!

Maurice says:
2 August 2011

Allowing *up to* 5 days for refunds seem reasonable. (When you pay, the money obviously becomes unavailable to you immediately.) If, as they appear to say, they have already initiated refunds to everyone, and it was possible to pay by debit card or other bank transfer, the refund could take the usual (if now behind-the-times, given the advent of Fastpay) three clear banking days. And credit card refunds will, in my experience, go through more quickly, appearing within a day or two in your account.

Mark says:
2 August 2011

Here is a recent e-mail I received from groupon – there was no mention of the booking fee when I signed up for this deal. No suggestion of a refund! No one answers the customer service phone, so have askd for a refund via e-mail – but no response

“Family Portrait Photo Shoot With 16″x20″ Print for £15 at Firefly Photography (Value £300)” – deal clarification.

Owing to a publishing error, we may have caused some confusion regarding your Groupon at Firefly Photography. We’d like to apologise for this mistake and any inconvenience it may have caused you.

To clarify, you will receive £50 off any framed set or wall hanging but not 25% discount off any individual studio prints, framed wall art & digital images. Please ignore anything else previously advertised.

In addition, we included an incorrect website for Firefly Photography. The correct one is: http://www.firefly-photography.co.uk.

Also, please note:

· New clients only

· No pets allowed

· £30 booking deposit

It couldn’t be easier to make a booking. Simply call: 01332 341300 or email: info@firefly-photography.co.uk quoting your Groupon code and they’ll happily schedule you in. Advanced booking is essential and subject to availability. Don’t forget you can find a copy of your Groupon at: http://www.groupon.co.uk/myaccount.

We hope you enjoy your photo shoot. As always, please visit http://www.groupon.co.uk to see what other exciting deals are on offer in your city today.

Kind regards,

The Customer Service Team

Email: support@groupon.co.uk

Lani says:
2 August 2011

I’ve used Groupon for many purchases over the last year, and had to deal with their customer services on a couple of occasions. The first was because one of their adverts was slightly misleading in terms of what you were able to purchase – they actually sent out an email to those of us that bought the item to alert us. I wasn’t happy and requested a refund. The second time was that the company was fully booked (for 3 months!) as the offer was too successful. On both occasions they responded within a day, and resolved both matters immediately. I am an extremely satisfied customer – if only every company had customer service that was so efficient.

I see we have Groupon posting on this site.

I am fed-up of seeing Groupon adverts on many of the websites I visit. Now I am receiving unsolicited email. Please tell me (and others who are irritated by the same things) how to stop the adverts and email.

Sorry if this is off-topic!

Thanks Patrick. I am rather reluctant to unsubscribe to receiving email where I did not subscribe in the first place. It is common advice not to respond to unsolicited email or to unsubscribe because your contact details can be added to a premium list and sold on.

I would like to know how Groupon obtains email addresses to send unsolicited email, since I have never been a customer. It’s no defence to say that other companies do the same, and I am always careful about choosing the option to avoid my contact details being passed on to selected companies.

Hi Wavechange, do you ever do competitions from ITV TV shows. I find I get several unsolicated emails from the same companies immediately after entering even though I tick the box saying no to them. Just something to be careful of.


I have never entered my email address on a Groupon website. Seeing their advertising on many web pages has done enough to deter me from using their services.

Groupon are using my work email address and this has probably been harvested from my employer’s website, not necessarily by Groupon. If I do register to use a shopping website then I use a private email address.

For the reason I explained above I am reluctant to unsubscribe to any information unless I subscribed in the first place.

I did eventually try to unsubscribe from Groupon’s mailings, and have now done this several times. I am now gettting more junk mail from this unscrupulous firm.

If I had my way, companies that send unsolicited email should face large fines.

Andrew Hood says:
3 August 2011

Good morning,

It also appears that the company behind this offer, ilocalfurniture, have a hyper link to my website on their ‘contact us’ page. Amara is a stockist of Fatboy products and has absolutely nothing to do with this whole debacle.

I cannot find a phone number on the ilocalfurniture site but have emailed them this morning telling them to remove this link immediately.

Andrew Hood

highover says:
4 August 2011

I don’t understand. I too saw this offer, but was never under the impression that Groupon were offering a ‘Fatboy’ bean bag. In fact I said to my husband Groupon were offering a product that is ‘like a Fat boy’ – I looked at the company’s website – again nothing to do with Fatboy – so how come I understood what the deal was, but no one else did?

I have purchased several deals from Groupon and have been perfectly happy with them.

Steve says:
4 August 2011

I’m with you I saw item advertised as Big Daddy beanbag and website for company was advertising same product and picture as Groupon and I was happy to buy that product. Hence I think that retailer was caught out by interest exceeding expectation when 660 had been sold before item was withdrawn. I actually paid and received the voucher in early afternoon before I was notified of withdrawal later that day. If it had said Fatboy I would understand but it didn’t!!

SJS says:
5 August 2011

I’ve used Groupon for several things over the past year or so, it’s so far worked flawlessly every time, knock on wood!

jasperpop says:
5 August 2011

i couldnt redeem my voucher for a print on canvas – the ‘you frame’ site was inundated and they obviously couldnt handle the weight of vouchers..
ive tried contacting ‘you frame’ – no answer to emails or on phone
i then complained to groupon and was fobbed off – try ‘you frame’ is the only answer so far!

bad experience – wont be taking part again