Groupon. Customer service from hell

Everyone knows Groupon. You pay a 30% or even lower share of the regular price for a service or event admission, the business gets new clientele, Groupon gets its share, and everybody’s happy. Right? Wrong. This week, I had about the worst experience of my life with Groupon’s customer service.

Recently, Groupon introduced a new feature, points, which supposedly make your savings even greater. It works like this: when you buy something on Groupon’s website, you get 10 points for each dollar you spend, and when you’ve accumulated a certain amount, you can redeem them for new purchases. To do this, you must go to the points page and press one of the “Redeem X points for Y dollars off Z dollars purchase” button. After that, when you buy something for Z dollars or more, the “Y dollars off” button turns up automatically during the checkout, you press it, and Bob’s your uncle. The usability of the process leaves something to be desired, but the entire thing seems extremely simple and transparent, right? Wrong.

So, one fine day, about a week ago, I realized that I had accumulated enough points and it’s time to spend them. I had used the points system several times before and didn’t expect any trouble. Just then a nice deal with a ski resort (lift tickets, equipment rentals, that kind of thing) came up, and seeing as my son was going to come and visit me around Christmas, I thought we could have a great time skiing.

So I went to the points page and selected “Redeem 10,000 points for $10 off a purchase of $20 or more”. Then I pressed the Buy button on the deal’s page, was transferred to the checkout… but my discount of $10 was not there, even though I was going to make a purchase that cost more than $20. I tried again… still no success. This is when I contacted Groupon’s customer service, explaining that the points feature didn’t work and asking for help.

Now, this was not the first time I had to deal with Groupon’s customer service. In my previous experience, some representatives may not have been not very knowledgeable, but they were invariably polite, listened to what I had to say, and seemed genuinely interested in remedying my situation. Not anymore!

What do you expect when you tell a customer service employee that their company’s product doesn’t work? Naturally, you expect them to ask you questions about what exactly didn’t work, what exactly were you trying to do, etc. However, this time the first response to my message was a standard greeting followed by a copy-paste of the website page containing instructions on points usage. I admit I blew a gasket just then as I had explained in great detail in my initial message that I knew how points worked, in general, and I have used them in the past successfully. So my response to this was somewhat impatient.

Now – I don’t know whether this was intentional or not – my call was not assigned any ticket or number. So every time I responded to a message from a customer service representative, it got into the queue as a new call and was assigned to a new representative. And all of them responded identically: first a greeting full of cheerful idiocy (“Oh, sorry for your frustration! Now we know what went wrong!”) and then a copy-paste from the website user page containing instructions on using the points system. Every time I responded to such a message, I got a new representative, a new portion of cheerful idiocy, and a new copy-pasted instructions page. In vain had I explained that I KNOW how to use points, that THIS TIME IT DIDN’T WORK and this means that SOMETHING WENT WRONG and they should find out the details from me to learn what exactly happened. This “dialogue ad absurdum” continued, and, as a result, I got four nearly identical and useless messages from four different customer service representatives. NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM asked a single question to find out what happened. (To prove that I am not inventing this, here are their names: Jonnice C, Solomon Sharon, Gokula K, and Mohan Karthik L.)

Now, I have an inkling of what may have been wrong (drawing upon my 20+ years in IT), and I would have shared my insights with anyone from Groupon, had they expressed at least some interest in the matter. However, no such luck.

Honestly, I think that a three-year-old child would have done better than those people. Her technical knowledge would be about at par with theirs, and a three-year-old at least possesses a healthy interest towards what’s going on around her, which these people are utterly devoid of. The only explanation I can think of is that Groupon, caring about its bottom line, got rid of human customer service altogether and replaced it with an app that reacts to certain keywords (in my case, “frustration”, “problem”, and “points”) and just returns a corresponding help entry preceded by a few placating words (also canned).

The overall score:

Me: minus 10,000 points (if you mark them for redemption and don’t use them within a week, they evaporate prematurely), the deal that expired while I was trying to talk to the service-bots, and some negative emotions.

Groupon: minus some lost profit and minus one customer. There are plenty of fish in the ocean and plenty of discount websites out there, such as,,, etc., where hopefully the customer service is more up to it  (or at least actually present). It looks like it’s time for me to explore new horizons. Bye bye, Groupon!

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Some upcoming events

Taking Your Business to the Cloud – May 6th‏

From embracing big data with IBM and marketing automation with Constant Contact, to leveraging client management tools with Salesforce and using cloud productivity applications with Google, this full-day event will be sure to help give your business a boost.
Use the link to get a $10 discount

For IT Professionals, By IT Professionals.



Includes all keynotes, breakout sessions, vendor sessions, networking receptions and exhibit area access.


  • Speak one-on-one with vendors, all in one place
  • Discover new cutting edge products and services
  • Network and meet new people in the industry
  • Stay up-to-date on the latest technology trends
  • See technology in action through demonstrations
  • Attend conference seminar sessions
  • Research information needed to enhance your IT strategy
  • Local event right in your backyard!


  • CIO/CTO’s
  • IT Directors/Managers
  • Network Architects and Analysts
  • Data Center Managers
  • Network and Communications Managers
  • Systems Software Managers
  • Security and Recovery Specialists
  • Storage Architects

Use this VIP code: VIP15 when registering, to waive the registration fees.

Use this link to Register

Want to head to FITC Toronto in April for FREE?

Once again, FITC is offering women in the digital space the opportunity to attend Canada’s largest design and technology conference for free! Simply share why you want to attend and your advice for other women in tech in the most creative way you can muster up. Submit your entry before February 28th. See the full details and submit your entry at Good luck!

It’s time for garden work again

I am going to St.Mary of Egypt Refuge to plant stuff!
Anticipating blackflies. Enjoy the song!

P.S. something wrong with the stupid WordPress – the video is here

UPDATE. Stupid WordPress posted this twice, after pretending for two hours that it is not going to post at all. To avoid duplicate posts, here’s my photo from today:


It’s time for garden work again

I am going to St.Mary of Egypt Refuge to plant stuff!
Anticipating blackflies. Enjoy the song!

Ontario Self Employment Benefit (OSEB) Program Information Session

Jan 28, 2014 10:00 am to 12:00 pm

Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre
4 Credit Union Drive,
Toronto, ON

Are you out of work? Do you have a business idea? You may qualify for FREE help and income support while you develop your business!

The OSEB program at a glance:

  • 42 week program
  • Comprehensive business training
  • Practical advisory assistance
  • Income Support

Are you eligible for OSEB?

The OSEB program is open to people in Ontario who are:

  • Eligible for, or collecting, Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits
  • An unemployed “reach back” client who received EI benefits within the last 36 months (60 months for those recipients of maternity/parental benefits)

To to learn more and start the application process, come to our Information Session to be held at the Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre, 4 Credit Union Drive, Toronto, ON.

For more information about OSEB, please call 416-289-5000 ext. 8585 or

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AcceleratorU webinar on intellectual property; discount code

Finally someone helps make sense of Intellectual Property!

Join the webinar July 30 or Aug 7.

AcceleratorU launches its Webinar series on IP, with “Demystifying Intellectual Property, An Essential, Actionable Introduction”.

Register at 

Use code catasoi25 for 25% off


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