LOS ANGELES, Nov. 1, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- No one likes to be fooled, not in politics, not in public and especially not in their purchases. Dollar conscious and wary consumers must now exercise additional caution for another consumer deception – exaggerated Groupon savings claims.
Misleading savings claims by Groupon are not new, but Groupon is again in the spotlight with its inflated savings claims. "Some Groupon offers and savings calculations just don't pan out," says Craig Crosby, publisher of The Counterfeit Report ® (www.theCounterfeitReport.com), a popular consumer protection website helping consumers identify counterfeit and fake product offers.
For example, popular Paul Mitchell hair care products are not authorized for sale on Groupon, says Paul Mitchell Director of Brand Protection, Vikki Bresnahan in a statement to the Counterfeit Report. Yet, Groupon advertises a "deal" on Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Shampoo at a whopping "51% Discount" – just $11.99 + $2.99 shipping with an estimated 12 business day delivery. In fact, "authentic Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Shampoo has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price ("MSRP") of just $9.50 in Paul Mitchell salons," says Bresnahan. "Products purchased from sources other than Paul Mitchell Salons are diverted, counterfeit or fake. Letters from our attorney to Groupon have gone unanswered and we are pleased to have the resources of The Counterfeit Report to bring this to the consumer's attention."
This is not an exception for Paul Mitchell products on Groupon; Paul Mitchell's Freeze and Shine Super Spray is offered on Groupon for $13.99 + $2.99 shipping; again an illusionary 51% savings off a claimed "$28.35 price." However, authentic Paul Mitchell Freeze and Shine Super Spray has a MSRP of only $10 at Paul Mitchell Salons. Also found on Groupon was Paul Mitchell's "The Conditioner" 10.14oz – listed at $11.99 + $2.99 shipping ." Promoted as a "$15.99 value" and a claimed "25% savings," the Paul Mitchell product's MSRP is just $10.50 in Salons. Bresnahan added, "Paul Mitchell guarantees authenticity and quality when purchased from Paul Mitchell salons, without the Groupon 2-week shipping wait."
The problems against Groupon are not without precedent. In 2011, a Groupon offer which nearly 3,300 people bought, directed buyers to a special FTD website -- FTD.com/Groupon -- to take advantage of the offer. The problem, users said, was that prices were higher than on the regular website, effectively diminishing the value of the deal.
After Britain's Advertising and Standard's Authority ("ASA") banned two Groupon ads for restaurant discounts also in 2011, Groupon's exaggerated claims persisted in 2012 with 60 complaints investigated by ASA. The ASA Office of Fair Trading ("OFT") told Groupon to clean up its practices. "The investigation found widespread examples of Groupon's practices which in the OFT's view breached consumer protection regulations," explained the regulatory OFT.
Crosby cautions consumers to check prices before jumping at any deal. Highlighting the Groupon offering of an Asus Laptop Computer (model Q200E-BSI3TO8) for $419.99, a claimed "16% savings" -- it's not the deal it appears to be. A savvy consumer checking Amazon would find the same Asus computer offered for $379.99 -- $40 less than the Groupon "Deal."
The "48% discount" for Groupon's $12.00 price for a 14-lap go-kart race at MB2 Racing, listed as a "$23 value," is not quite as great as it appears to be. At normal prices, two races are just $30 Monday through Thursday, and "5 races for $75" is always available at MB2 (that's $15 a race). The claimed savings diminish significantly when consumers check actual prices, yet one race is still a deal.
Recently, Groupon offered the Google Nexus 7 Tablet for $199, claiming a $260 retail price on a "refurbished" model, yet a consumer complaint identified the regular product selling price at $199.
These examples illustrate consumers simply need to be cautious and do their homework, says Crosby. With the holidays approaching, consumers will be faced with many "too good to be true deals" and the ever-present $700 Billion avalanche of deceptive counterfeits and fake products. The Counterfeit Report is here to make the consumer aware.