Groupon deceptive gift certificates

March 24, 2011

Groupon helps arrange group discounts. You’ve probably heard of the website, and maybe you’ve been able to get an amazing deal.

But maybe there was an expiration date for taking advantage of that deal.

Legally, because you paid, up front, for the privilege of getting the deal, Groupon cannot call this a “coupon.” State and federal law are clear that this is a true “gift certificate.” A coupon can have an expiration – but a gift certificate cannot.

The idea is that with a gift certificate, you have already paid for goods or services, so no profit should be made simply because you have not been able to use it yet. A coupon is more like an invitation to buy, so no harm is done to a consumer if you don’t use it within a certain time period.

Lawsuits are already being filed by people who have not been able to get a refund from groupon when the deal was about to expire. ┬áPrentiss Cox, a law professor at the University of Minnesota, who was interviewed stated “It looks like a new company that really didn’t do its homework.” Groupon knew, or should have known, about the prohibition against an expiration date for the deals it offers.

If you have been left without a refund or the ability to use your deal, you may want to contact an attorney to discuss your options. The deceptive trade practice means that your attorney’s fees may have be paid by Groupon.

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