Groupon Expiration Date Settlement Refunds Consumers
"You snooze, you lose" is no longer the case for customers of daily deals site Groupon. Today (May 25) it sent an email to members announcing that it had reached a settlement in a class-action lawsuit alleging that it illegally set expiration dates for vouchers and didn't make the information clear on its website.
On a special website for the settlement, Groupon stressed that it isn't admitting any wrongdoing. But the generous terms of the settlement seem to admit defeat.
If the settlement is approved on July 20, the whole dynamic of group deals will change. Until now, group deals have functioned like rebates, something you have to take advantage of in a certain amount of time — and something that many customers inevitably forgot about, essentially giving free money to Groupon and the diverse merchants selling anything from dinner to skydiving.
In fact, an industry has grown up around helping people deal with coupon expiration. It's one of the services offered by "dashboard" sites such as CityPockets.com, which tracks expiration dates and allows people to sell coupons that they won't have a chance to use. In that respect, the settlement comes just in time: A note on the CityPockets website announces that the service will close down on June 30. (However, dashboard site Manilla.com offers those services, along with many others. And it seems to be in good shape: it just won a Webby Award.)
The refunds don't happen automatically. To get them, customers who purchased now-expired, unused coupons have to submit a claim form to a claims administrator. Deadlines for submitting claims have not yet been set. (The only deadline announced is July 6, 2012, when people can decide to opt out of or object to the settlement.) Anyone who purchased a voucher for a location in the U.S. any time between Nov. 1, 2008, and Dec. 1, 2011, is eligible to be part of the class-action group.
All the fine print is provided on Groupon's settlement site.