'Daily deal' complaints

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These days, everyone is looking to save money and score a great deal.  Many of us love those amazing daily deal offers that pop up in our inbox.  But consumer complaints are piling up: claiming some of those offers aren't working out as advertised.

Deals like "Pay $15 for $30 worth of food," or "Get three oil changes for $49" or "Train your dog for half the price" are hard to resist.   That's exactly how bachelor Jay Johnson felt when he saw an offer for some housecleaning help.

"I went to try and schedule the cleanings by calling the vendor and the cleaning company never called me back," he said.

So, Johnson called the daily deal company that sent him the offer he purchased, but they sent him back to the cleaning company.  Again, no response from the cleaning company.  As time passed, the voucher eventually expired.

"You pay for the service and you put effort into calling and to try to chase someone down. As time goes on it gets frustrating," he said.

The number of frustrated daily deal consumers is growing.  A multi-million dollar class-action suit claims one company sold deals that expired in an "unreasonably short period of time."

Meantime, Better Business Bureau records reveal more than two-thousand consumer complaints against major daily deal companies.  A majority of those complaints were filed this past year.  The Better Business Bureau blames the popularity of the offers combined with overwhelmed businesses.

"Consumers have been so quick to take advantage of those opportunities especially with the service industry that that small company couldn't keep up with the volume," said Carrie Hurt, CEO of the Better Business Bureau.

The daily deal industry says it hears the complaints and things are changing.

"The daily deal sites now have learned from this problem and are creating schedulers who work with that service establishment and create a process of how many deals, how many redemptions they can take per day so they're not overwhelmed," said Bonnie Carlson with the Brand Activation Association.

The Brand Activation Association says daily deals are still a win-win for customers.

"Consumers get a great deal and it gives them a chance to try something new," said Carlson.

If you're thinking of buying a deal, you should:

  • Read terms and conditions of each offer carefully.
  • Plan to use the vouchers reasonably soon.
  • Experts say if you think you got duped, contact the site that sold you the coupon and ask for your money back.

There are many happy customers, Jay Johnson just wasn't one of them.   He never got a call back, but after the media contacted the daily deal site that sold him the cleaning service, they refunded him the amount he paid for the offer.

"I don't think that I would buy one of these online deals from a vendor I'm not already familiar with," said Johnson.

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