Why can't I pay for my massage with the Groupon/Living Social voucher I purchased? 


SHORT VERSION

March of 2017, I requested Groupon STOP selling ITW massages after a year of doing so. I filled out the required paperwork, had the required phone call and told them I wanted it ended.

Subsequently, they did not stop selling my deal and my many many attempts to contact them between March 30th and the beginning of July were ignored. 

Beginning of July they finally answer my email and again tried to avoid ending my deal, all the while selling more and more massages to people. My deal with Living Social had ended nicely in March, however in the middle of 2017 Groupon bought Living Social and then started selling our massages on that platform again without our knowledge or consent. 

This resulted in ITW not being able to afford its expenses, therefore causing us to refuse to accept Groupons as payment or close the office within a couple of weeks. 

After we informed Groupon of this, they agreed to delete our deal, said we CANNOT accept any more Groupons as payment even if we wanted to do so, and that they would be issuing refunds to everyone who purchased a Groupon.  

We are offering to price match the amount paid to Groupon if anyone still wants to get a massage here. If you purchased your massage prior to March 30th 2017 and it has expired, I will take that under the terms of expiration, which state that the amount you paid can be used toward a massage but you must pay the difference between the price you paid and our normal price, example: if you bought a Groupon for $35 before March 30th, you can pay the difference of $30 to use it. 

Anything purchased after March 30th 2017 was an invalid sale on the part of Groupon and you must contact them directly to receive your money back. 

Any subsequent emails or offers you might receive from Groupon that is supposedly coming from ITW, be advised that those are coming without our knowledge and consent and will not be honored. 



LONG VERSION

January of 2016, I was working alone, renting one room and trying to start my own massage practice. It was recommended to me that I use Groupon and Living Social, platforms that offer deep discounts to potential customers that want to try your service. I launched a deal with both companies in March of 2016 for what I thought was only a year long agreement. The terms of this agreement with both companies was that they would sell my deal for over 50% off my original price which was $75. This resulted in the customer paying about $35 for a 1-hour massage from me aka In Touch Wellness. Of that $35, Groupon takes 50% as well, leaving $17.50. Out of that total, they then take out credit card processing fees and an additional 20% for potential refunds. I was receiving about $15 per massage but it was worth it at the beginning. What I found out later is that we are subject to every sale they ever have, and they have so many times we would make less than $15 per massage on a consistant basis. Because I am just one person, my agreement was to sell only 75 massages a month. Eventually as the year went on, I realized that this was just not a good deal for me and I was struggling to cover my expenses making $15 or less per massage. I decided that I would just wait it out, in March my deal would expire and it would be fine. In September of 2016 I moved to the old market and expanded my space to fit more therapists because I didn’t like working alone and I knew some amazing therapists that wanted to build something for themselves. With the extra people everything was going well, the beginning of 2017 started out seemingly fine. In January, I started school again full time and was very busy and my mother was ill, my time and focus was stretched thin. In March of 2017 my mother died, it was a very difficult time for me, as well as trying to keep up with my school work and work obligations. I received a nice reminder email from Living Social saying thank you for having a deal with us, it is over now. I assumed I would get a similar email from Groupon but I did not. I emailed my representative and asked her if I had to do anything special or if my deal would just stop on its own. I was informed that it never stops, so I asked how do I go about stopping it because as of that moment I didn’t want to sell any more massages through Groupon. They sent me a form I was to fill out, I did exactly what I was required to do. They told me I had to have an exit phone interview, I scheduled it for 12 pm. My rep called at 12:45 and wasted the whole time trying to talk me out of canceling my deal or renegotiating a better price. I told her that I would think about what she said but I wanted the current deal ended. She kept talking around me and eventually I had to go because I had a client (which is why I wanted to talk at 12). She never ended my deal like I asked and filled out paperwork for. Because of life and my personal things happening, I would call her a couple times a week but never received a callback or another email. In April, I was informed that Groupon was buying Living Social. Then in May and June a massive amount of Groupons were sold, way more than my allowed limit of 75 per month. Somehow in that month and a half (around mothers day and other special days) Groupon sold 500+ of my massages, for which we only received $4,000. That averages to less than $10 per massage due to all the sales they constantly run. I have since found out that they were selling my deal on Living Social again without my permission and I have had a few people tell me they bought a massage for as little as $17, meaning we were paid less than $8.50 for that massage. I frantically tried to slow the demand for massages, it is typical that about 25% of people will schedule right away, normally that’s not an issue but over 100 people all tried to book appointments at once. By this time, we had suffered a reduction in staff as one of the people working here needed to leave massage for health reasons. I attempted to restrict how many people booked with Groupon to allow us to take return customers and new ones that weren’t paying with Groupon. This lead to a huge upset in Groupon customers that had to wait weeks to book, I was receiving lots of angry messages and emails. I ended up caving and lifting the restriction only to have my entire month of June and July become full of Groupon customers before it was even July. We had also been experiencing lower than normal return clients due to the fact that many of these Groupons were purchased as gifts for people, and many people getting gifts weren’t returning or prepaying for any services, so we as an office didn’t make enough money from these customers to take us into July. I found myself in the first week of July looking at a whole month of people who have already paid and no guarantee that we are going to bring in anything and a dwindling bank account due to not having received enough earnings from Groupon. I knew that we were not going to be able to sustain the Groupons anymore that is why I tried to have them stopped in March. Everything sold by Groupon after March 30th is a violation of our agreement and my right as a business to end my contract with them whenever I want. I sent them emails explaining to them that I was facing having to close my business if they didn’t stop selling my massages, they ignored that and again offered me to renegotiate. I told them that renegotiation would not help me right now and to stop selling my deal immediately. I was ignored again, which was when I decided that if I was going to salvage anything here, I wouldn’t be able to accept Groupons as payment anymore. Realistically, if they had stopped selling when I asked, all the Groupons sold prior to March 30th would have expired by the end of July and I would not have had this problem. In order to force Groupon to stop selling my deal I had to tell them I wouldn’t accept anymore Groupons as payment for massage. They finally said ok, we will end your deal. I then had to contact everyone who scheduled an appointment and try to explain to them what happened. I was very upset about this situation and at that moment I thought for sure my business was going to close, I even accidentally said as much to someone I was canceling (a mistake they have beaten me over the head with multiple times since). I had a lot of people for whom this was a gift and I was trying to work with people as much as possible, so I was going to take some Groupons if it was extenuating circumstances. I was then informed by Groupon that I CANNOT take Groupons as I cannot pick and choose which ones to take and which ones not to take. Thus far I have been yelled at, cursed at, told I was a liar and a scammer, had people threaten me etc all over a discounted massage. I have been in contact with a lawyer and they said that I did everything I was supposed to do and it is Groupons fault they didn’t stop selling my massages when I asked. If you purchase a Groupon or Living Social voucher after March 30th you were not supposed to be able to do that. My Groupon rep told me that they would be emailing everyone who purchased a massage for In Touch Wellness and people would be receiving refunds (thus far they have lied about sending people emails and people have been getting refunds but with apparent difficulty). I have offered everyone a massage here at the price they paid for their Groupon in an effort to price match, I want everyone to get the discount massage they wanted. However even if I wanted to do so, I cannot accept Groupon or Living Social prepaid vouchers as payment for massage, I apologize. If you purchased your massage prior to March 30th and it has expired, I will take that under the terms of expiration which are that the amount you paid can be used toward a massage but you must pay the difference between the price you paid and our normal price, example: if you bought a Groupon for $35 before March 30th, you can pay the difference of $30 to use it. Anything purchased after March 30th 2017 was an invalid sale on the part of Groupon and you must contact them directly to receive your money back. Any subsequent emails or offers you might receive from Groupon that is supposedly coming from ITW, be advised that those are coming without our knowledge and consent and will not be honored.