While there are dozens of social buying local deal daily deal sites out there, the most prominent are Groupon and LivingSocial. If we were to assign +1 or -1 points, how would these two compare to each other in terms of the quality of merchants and in customer service? Here is my opinion based on my experience dealing with both…
I’ve had good experiences redeeming restaurant certificates purchased from both Groupon and LivingSocial, and it seems to get easier as restaurants owners, waiters, and waitresses get used to seeing customers walk in with a certificate in hand. Plus 1 point for both. The only hiccup I had was with a Groupon deal for a restaurant that didn’t accept the certificate on Friday nights, which was in the fine print and I totally didn’t see it. But the manager still let me use it, so thank you to him. +1 for Goupon for partnering with a good merchant.
Conversely, I’ve had a couple of bad experiences with Groupon and LivingSocial merchants as well. These experiences stand out.
This merchant was particularly bad because she agreed to still honor the certificate but never showed up. I had my doubts that she would make a 120 mile round-trip to my house so I called several times to confirm the appointment, including the day before. Each time, she assured me she would be there. Of course she never showed up. When I called to inquire, she stated that she had no appointments booked for that day. Hmmm. Really nice job with screening this merchant partner there, LivingSocial. At least the Groupon merchant showed up and cleaned something. -5 points for all the time I wasted calling repeatedly to confirm the appointment, then waiting for nobody to show up.
And how LivingSocial responded (or failed to respond) to that incident leads me to…
From my experience, this is where Groupon really outshines LivingSocial. Groupon refunded my money to Well Pressed after exchanging a couple of emails with customer service. At first, they offered me a credit for future Groupon purchases but I asked for a refund and they obliged. Although chances were high that I would buy something in the future, I still didn’t want to feel obligated to spend the Groupon credit. Likewise, they refunded the DiapersDirect Groupon and in addition, credited my account with $10 for the inconvenience. Nice, that’s worth +3 points.
My experience with LivingSocial customer service, however, was frustratingly different. When I informed them that Eco Fresh never showed up, the CS rep said they would investigate and get back to me in a couple of days. They never called back, so I had to call again to follow up. -1 point for leaving the customer hanging.
When I called the 2nd time, the CS rep said something like “we will credit your account”, which I assume meant that they would refund my credit card. So I agreed, and thanked him. However, he meant that he would credit my LivingSocial account for future purchases. When I asked him to change it, the response was, “we can’t.” What?!?! Apparently in this age of high tech, their software lacks the ability to reverse a transaction because once I had agreed to the LivingSocial credit, it couldn’t be undone. I was transferred to the customer service manager, who stated the same thing and at one point in the conversation, he even told me to “SHUT UP”. This is after he told me his name and employee ID number, and informed me that the conversation was being recorded for training purposes. Then he hung up on me. Nice one, CS Supervisor. Nice customer service training, LivingSocial. -500 points on that one.
I called back and demanded to speak with a different CS manager. I gave her the offending supervisor’s information and told her about the unprofessional service I had just received. She apologized and was magically able return the money to my credit card. This was something that was not possible, according to the other CS Supervisor. I asked to file a formal complaint and she stated that I would have to write a letter to the main office in Washington DC. I had my doubts, but I was so frustrated and angered so I sent a letter describing the incident and asking someone to contact me to discuss what had happened. I have the employee’s ID and the phone conversation was recorded, so they had all the facts to investigate. It’s been more than 2 months and I’ve gotten no response to the letter or 3 follow-up emails. -500 points.
In my arbitrary scoring system, Groupon ended up with a +1, meaning the good outweighs the bad. Living Social ended up with -1007. Groupon clearly wins because of superior customer service. Or, Living Social clearly loses because of inferior/ inadequate/ unacceptable customer service. The take-home message is that you will find good and bad vendors, regardless of whether it’s a Groupon vendor or a LivingSocial vendor. However, as in all service industries, it’s the customer service that makes the customer’s experience a positive one or a negative one.
Reader feedback: Have you had similarly good or bad experiences from Groupon and LivingSocial? Which one do you like better? Are there another group buying local deal site that are particularly good or bad?
28 December 2012
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