UK: Deal-Of-The-Day Website Gets No Discounts For Unsubstantiated Or Inaccurate Deals

Three promotional adverts for online discount provider Groupon UK have been banned by the UK's advertising regulator, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), on grounds that they were inaccurate and misleading. The first advert promoted a deal for two diners to enjoy a South American meal for £9.80 instead of £24.50, however it failed to make clear that one diner would have to pay full price in order for the second diner to obtain the discounted price. A second advert claimed customers could enjoy 60% off a "Segway Safari" experience, but did not mention that a £10 surcharge would be charged at weekends. A third advert which claimed that two diners could enjoy a three course meal for £29 instead of £83.50, at a saving of 65%, was challenged for being exaggerated. Groupon argued that it had no interest in misleading customers; the inaccuracies in the first two adverts were a result of drafting errors and omissions by staff. It promised to address future problems through "extensive staff training and quality control safeguards". It stated that the discount in the third advert was correct at the time the agreement was signed with the relevant restaurant. The ASA accepted that the inaccuracies in the first two adverts were due to drafting errors and omissions by staff, but considered that the mistakes in both adverts rendered them misleading. It concluded that the third advert was also misleading as it implied customers would save 65% on the three course meal, however the saving could only be achieved by selecting the most expensive menu items. It stated that Groupon should have qualified the claim by stating that 65% was the maximum saving that could be achieved and was based on selecting the most expensive menu options. Moral: Ensure that adequate controls are in place to check the accuracy of adverts before they are launched, and never exaggerate claims without qualification. – Richard Dickinson and Jake Marshall

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