Beware of bargain buys online
Published Monday, May 28, 2012 5:20PM MDT
Group buying from websites like Goupon and dealfind can be a great way to save money if you trust the company behind the voucher but what happens when the discount is a dud?
School teacher and father of three Rob Smith found out the hard way what can happen when a deal seems to good too be true.
Smith doesn't have a lot of extra time or money so buying a voucher for a discounted carpet cleaning on dealfind seemed like a good way to save both.
"So I gave it a try, it was the first one I'd bought," said Smith.
He made his appointment with Qualico Cleaning Services, cleared his schedule and his floors and waited for the company to arrive.
Qualico never showed up nor did they respond to his calls or emails.
"I think they're cashing in on coupons and selling people vouchers and I really question whether or not they intend on fulfilling their services, ever," said Smith.
CTV Calgary Consumer Specialist Lea Williams-Doherty did an online search and found dozens of angry Qualico customers telling the same story.
She called and emailed Qualico to ask what's going on and was also ignored.
Lea then called dealfind, the website that offered Qualico's vouchers.
"We found out that the company is not honoring its vouchers and so we have marked them as 'not honoring vouchers' within our internal system," said Marina Glogovac.
dealfind says it has blacklisted the company and will give voucher purchasers refunds, no questions asked.
Lea asked if dealfind vets the companies it markets before selling their vouchers.
"We have an entire team of people whose job it is to make sure a company is viable, that it has a good reputation you know, there is a whole process," said Glogovac.
Lea warns coupons buyers to do their homework and says not to let the group buy deadlines prevent you from doing your research.
Consumers can do a few things to make sure a group buy deal really is a deal:
- Research the company
- Read the fine print on the voucher to make sure you're willing to comply with any instructions or restrictions
- Read the refund policies of the website you're buying from to ensure that the company will refund your money if you have a problem
- Make sure the deal site has a customer service phone number and not just an online form so you can actually talk to someone
- If the voucher is for a service, try to make an appointment before you buy to ensure that you can actually get it in a reasonable amount of time
Qualico has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau.