What is this site?
This site provides a tool to help users of voucher or "daily deal" services, such as Groupon and LivingSocial, draft complaint letters to those services.
How do I use the tool?
Go to the home page, then click "Start my letter." Follow the instructions.
After you answer the initial questions about your voucher, you'll see a list of problems you may have had. Check the boxes for any problems that apply to your experience. Depending on your choices, more statements may appear. Read the further statements and check any boxes that apply. As you make selections, the tool updates the letter accordingly. After you finish making selections, you’ll have the opportunity to revise the draft letter to more precisely describe your experience.
Why does the draft reference laws for a state that I didn't select?
When searching for applicable laws, we consider the state of incorporation of the voucher service. If the voucher service's state of incorporation has stronger consumer protections than your state or the merchant's state, we may reference the laws of that state.
Note that many voucher services include Terms of Service requiring (or purporting to require) that disputes proceed under their state's law. For example, Groupon's Terms specify that all disputes proceed under Illinois law. (See section 20, Choice of Law.)
What if the voucher service ignores my message or rejects my request?
You might consider beginning by sending a second letter to the voucher service and/or sending a letter to the responsible merchant. In such a letter, you would reiterate your position, explain why you’re not convinced by any prior reply you have received, and indicate what you plan to do next if you don't obtain the response you seek.
If a second letter doesn't resolve your problem, you have several options.
What if I want to sue a voucher site?
Our service produces letters, not legal filings. If you wish to file suit against a voucher service, you should contract an attorney.
Because we're not your attorney, we won't send letters on your behalf. Our tool provides draft text you may consider. But we won't send it for you. After you finish revising your draft, you'll need to copy the text into your email program for transmission to your voucher service.
Why did you build this tool?
As consumers buy discount vouchers -- from Groupon, Living Social, and dozens more -- disputes are mounting. There are myriad opportunities for tension or miscommunication when a voucher service stands between consumer and merchant. Prepayment increases these problems: If a consumer ends up dissatisfied with a merchant, the consumer cannot withhold payment since the consumer has paid in advance.
We have long been interested in consumers' rights when purchasing discount vouchers. Our recent Consumer Protection in Online Discount Voucher Sales article explores some aspects of these questions, but many consumers seek guidance in more compact form. With this tool, we seek to provide affected consumers with the information most relevant to them, including pointers to the state laws that may bear on their concerns.
Who made this tool?
Who owns these letters?
We claim no copyright in the letters users create using our tool. The individual users who use our tool are free to use the resulting text however they see fit.
If you'd like to use our text or research in some other way, please let us know what you envision, and we can discuss the details.
Where can I learn more about this subject?
This tool is one of several projects in our research on discount vouchers and "deals." In June 2011, Ben Edelman and Paul Kominers posted Consumer Protection in Online Discount Voucher Sales, which examines several areas in which voucher services may fall short of their legal obligations to consumers. Edelman's 2009 Online Restaurant Promotions teaching case and companion teaching note explore other aspects of online marketing of local retailers.
Let me tell you my problem...
Great! Send us a note. We're particularly interested in hearing from consumers and merchants about their experience with discount vouchers. Did a merchant refuse to honor a voucher even when you thought they were obliged to do so? Charge you too much tax? Add conditions not present on the voucher? We want to know the details. We'll consider your experiences in preparing future articles and tools.
I have further questions. How can I contact you?
We're particularly interested in hearing from consumers and merchants about their experience with discount vouchers. Did a merchant refuse to honor a voucher even when you thought they were obliged to do so? Charge you too much tax? Add conditions not present on the voucher? Let us know. We'll consider your experiences in preparing future articles and tools.