Groupon answers my question before I even ask

And provides another example of exemplary customer service

This afternoon I printed out my first Groupon coupon -- $20 off $40 worth of food and drink from a local restaurant - and was both surprised and a bit irritated to see fine print that I hadn't seen when I agreed to the deal a few weeks ago.

In looking at the printed coupon, I noticed a caveat - in bold type - that I was quite certain had not been present when I bought in: "Not valid for alcohol."

Not valid for alcohol? How could I have missed that? I couldn't possibly have missed that. Trust me, there's no way I would have missed that.

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It would be as though I had missed "Bring your own silverware." Nope, someone at Groupon or the restaurant was pulling the old bait and switch.

Life's short, though, and I had already decided to let it slide, when an hour or so later this e-mail arrives in my inbox:

Hey everyone,

We are writing to inform you of an important change regarding your Groupon Purchase for Fresco's Italian Restaurant.

When we first offered this deal, it was advertised as valid for both food and alcohol. We recently received notification from the State of Massachusetts that Groupons cannot be used toward the purchase of alcoholic drinks and beverages, so these Groupons can no longer be used towards alcohol. We have already updated the Fine Print to reflect this. We understand how disappointing it is to make this kind of change to a great deal after it has closed and we are sincerely sorry for any inconvenience this causes. Fortunately, these businesses are still more than happy to honor your Groupon in full for any of the food items on their menus.

Of course, if you would like a refund for your Groupon based on this new information, please email us at support@groupon.com and we'll make sure you get your money back. Though we hate it when something like this happens, you can always count on us to have your back and make sure you're getting what you paid for, or a complete refund. If you have already redeemed one of these Groupons or still plan to use it on food, then you do not need to do anything else.

Regards,

Joe Harrow

Director of Customer Experience

Thanks, Joe.

It makes perfect sense that blame for the mix-up would belong to the state of Massachusetts, which has long made a sport of imposing puritanical and nonsensical laws governing alcoholic beverages. (For example, most grocery stores are not allowed to sell beer and wine, and, all purveyors of alcohol are prohibited from selling or pouring before noon on Sundays. ... It used to be a lot worse.)

But no harm, no foul. My tab for food alone is bound to exceed $40, unless I designate a couple of the kids to stay home, so I would be paying for drinks out of pocket irrespective of the state meddling.

And this marks the second time in my brief relationship with Groupon that its customer service department has performed so well that I believed it worth mentioning here.

Of course, that doesn't mean I think the company is worth $25 billion. That's just plain nuts.

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