CHICAGO – Groupon, the online coupon behemoth is bleeding like the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. This however is much more than a flesh wound.
Think the company is in trouble? Yesterday’s Deal of the Day offered an opportunity to buy a share of Groupon for $16. The offer stated this is a 48% savings off the regular price. Though as the opening bell rang, the NYSE listed Groupon shares hovering around $13. Even Bernie Madoff is taking notes.
Like the Underdog balloon from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Groupon appeared to be a high flying superhero, but might too just be filled with hot air. How soon Groupon will deflate is still up for debate but odds are Kirk Douglas will still be partying long after Groupon has had it’s last Deal of the Day.
Some deals themselves have Groupon under fire for manufacturing something to sell. A local deal in Florida offering paint-balling at a petting zoo had over 2500 purchasers for the deal, yet the Ocala park stopped accepting the Groupon after several geese and the potbellied pig died from injuries sustained by the promotion.
Twitter is littered with posts from unhappy Groupon customers. “Groupon groped me”, “After Groupon I fantasize about Coupon Suzi” and “Kill that Cat” were recently tweeted.
Even some celebrities have had bad experiences. Larry the Cable Guy was denied redemption of his Groupon for a pedicure at a salon in Manhattan. “He arrived wearing purple Crocs that had the toes cut out.” The salon manager, Whitney Daniels, recalled “It was immediately visible Mr. Cable Guy’s toenails had been badly neglected. I apologized that we would be unable to honor the Groupon and that he could get a full refund with them directly. I then suggested vitamin therapy to help return a natural color to his nails.”
“Apparently he found that to be too inconvenient and wanted instead to get credit for other salon service. He asked for a speedo wax and custom chest waxing leaving “LOL” in hair between his nipples. Simply a request we were unwilling to accommodate.” said Daniels.
Businesses themselves are often left with a feeling they have been pick-pocketed or completely fleeced when they assess the carnage left by eager bargain hunters. Beyond the cupcake incident, recently a Sausalito CA Medicinal Marijuana dispensary, after offering a Groupon for 99 cent Space Cakes, had to resort to using Mexican herb when every transient Deadhead on the west coast gathered making the streets near their shop look like a refugee camp for tattered tie-dyed clothing all waving their Groupons. Though none took advantage of a Groupon for a $2 shower and a free comb being offered at a truck stop just four blocks away.
The company has never been profitable. Yet company executives have profited, most are now billionaires (at least on paper) since Groupon went public last November. The SEC is examining their filing which may have been full of more untruths than the campaign trail on a run for President. These days smarter investors prefer Polariod.
What may be the worst of Groupons missteps is the Groupon Voice. Ever wonder why reading a Groupon description is like watching bad improv? Their team of writers, with the task of creating witty copy for the deal descriptions, are usually always underpaid recent graduates with some history of improv participation. This particpation may have been as an audience member shouting out, “proctologist” when asked for an occupation. Or they were actually performing, perhaps providing the set of arms while behind the guy who has his arms in pants and shoes helping create the uncoordinated midget routine.
The inexperienced writers attend the Groupon Academy, the in-house boot camp where the future comedy writers learn the Groupon Voice. There they gain mastery of utilizing big words and how to be smug in tone while making the editors giggle.
Maybe they could use this one; “Exsanguination may be great when making sausages, but when it happens to Groupon. we’re the Deal of the Day and casing free!”
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