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Groupon and it's Clones. Do you trust a Deal?

7.27.2012


 a consumer crisis?

This may come abruptly, but I have been harboring this dissatisfaction for more than a month now. I know with the groupon clones sites a.k.a coupon sites that's popping out in our country since 2 years back, the deals are either getting better or getting more misleadingly better? I have my fair share of positive and good experience with coupons. However there are others (like my friends, my readers, strangers) telling me nightmare stories about being mislead, cheated or treated differently. I thought I was lucky because I "thought" the secret to not getting "cheated" or having a bad experience was to choose what I buy carefully. Like:
  1. reputable merchants (shops/brands)
  2. 5 star places that surely will not compromise their reputation for the sake of a eager quick buck
  3. avoiding places unheard of (especially spas/beauty deals)
  4. making sure to read the terms and conditions properly before buying
  5. knowing what you're going to get to avoid being shortchanged
AND surely the Satisfaction Guarantee sign on the coupon sites means something right? I found out that it means nothing. Just reading The Star Newspaper the other day on customer service, the pillar where a business should stand strong on, got me so mad. What's going on with the service nowadays that companies are putting on satisfaction guarantee signs and on the other hand, disappointing their customers by not even understanding and defending them against ruthless merchants they do deals with? In fact, I see this same flow on how they treat complains:
  1. say thank you for reporting to them, they will get back
  2. fwd your entire complain to the merchant to read
  3. merchant replies back (sometimes arrogantly and even with white lies) 
  4. fwds what the merchant says to you or relays back what merchant replies
  5. added with thank you for XXXX we apologized for the experience you have.
So is this how complains are treated? I thought when we as consumers complain we wanted an action or a solution to be given. Not relay back and forth messages, I'm not here asking for a divorce story. This is what I want:
  1. investigation towards the claims reported (hence getting merchant's explanation)
  2. CHECKS to whether a breach of trust or duty of care has been breach/broken
  3. Explain to the merchant (IF THEY ARE WRONG) and ADVISES a solution. A customer will not complain if they were satisfied HELLO? something must have gone WRONG.
  4. Relay back to customer a solution or a compromise. Not say here's the merchant's reply, thank you for complaining. We're sorry.
DO we need to keep replying emails to tell them what is wrong, what is really happening (AGAIN) and listen to them say sorry nothing can be done when the signboard hangs Satisfaction Guarantee? or whatever customer happiness motto they have. NO. Hell I'm so dissatisfied about the run around I've been given and the explanations I have to reply to, and in the end treated like the "evil" party in this situation because apparently they believe whatever their merchants said since they already have our money in their pockets. After sales? service? feedback? not important because [insert whatever explanation needed to defend themselves against complains] that you're wrong. Not them.

display only???

birthday ruined why?

Heck, I'm not even PMS-ing or throwing a scene at the place (would they prefer that?) or making police reports. I try to be civilized but sorry, I guess the dissatisfaction with the way my complain is dealt with and not getting what I purchase for, is creating this angry black hole in myself. You guys must be wondering what happened? This is my story, no sugar added. Plain facts.

5 star luxury spa deal for only RM205

Bought a 5 Star Luxury Resort deal "SPA" Package (worth RM857) + steamboat for two pax (rm58). The deal highlights says:

HIGHLIGHTS BUY inclusive of:Madu Manis Spa Package for 2 paxSteamboat Set for 2 Pax @ Stimbot Restaurant15% OFF discount on F&B for Next Visit15% OFF discount on Escape Spa for Next VisitThis BUY comes with an option for an additional : RM480++ instead of RM560++ for 1 night stay (per room and inclusive of breakfast for 2 pax) @ Golden Palm Tree Resort & SpaMadu Manis Spa Package for 2 pax inclusive of:

Hot Stone n Aromatherapy Massage
Body Scrub
Foot Bath
Jacuzzi & Steam & Sauna
Cream Bath
Oasis Mocktail
Duration : 135mins (2Hrs 15mins)

Escapade Spa is an escape with an adventure.  A perfect start towards body pampering holidays.You will definitely be
treated as a king and queen with this 5 Star Spa Treatment! Esc apade Spa offers holistic signature therapies, carefully blending traditional practices from different ethnic cultures in Malaysia.Escapa de Spa offers a range of luxurious treatments in a surrounding that lulls you into a deep relaxation.This special place is blessed with a lovely view!

Recommenda tion: This is a
perfect GIFT for your wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, parents and bestfriends as they deserve it!"It isn't the size of the gift that matters, but the size of the heart that gives it - Eileen Elias Freeman

"Reviews on Escapade Spa:
"The Escapade spa, as the name suggests is ultimate escape for someone like me who is continuously overstressed at work. I totally recommend having the oriental massage there. It is to die for. - Elle Sheri, London""It was an awesome massage though.
First class treatment. It can’t get any better than this.

So what happened to my 5 Star Luxury Spa worth RM857 that me n my friends would be treated like king and queen? Not at all as described. My story starts with a booking made weeks ahead of our appointment. On 17th June, 2012 a group of friends travel nearly 2hrs to reach the fame Golden Palm Tree Resort. Our appointment was at 1pm and we reach just before it. This was a birthday gift for my bff Wing. She n Jean was the first couple to have their session at 1pm. The second couple, me n Kenby was at 3pm, we were there early with nothing to do so we tried out the spa facilities first. Being a Spa goer, I know for a fact that spa facilities can be done before or after your treatment and does not hinder your treatment time.

First session 1pm: Wing n Jean
Wing & Jean were told that the package we bought is "slightly" different from the spa's Madu Manis package. In what way different? we were told that instead of cream bath, now we have an option of choosing cream bath or body wrap. Sounds lucky? oh boy. Wing asked for the therapist's recommendation? should they go for cream bath or body wrap? Therapist recommended cream bath. Oh boy, just wait till you hear more. Jean changed her mind about having cream bath, opted for body wrap instead minutes. The therapist replied cannot change anymore as they have already prepared the cream bath for two pax. The girls were bewildered but let it slide.

When they began their session in the couple's room, there stood in the room a bath tub (comfortably for 1 pax) filling up with milky water. There's the last I saw of them until about 2.30pm. Wing complained that they had to sit in the bath tub (shared the same bath tub, one on each end sitting) and she came up after 10mins. Do they expect us to sit in there for an hour?! she exclaims. She also complains of having headache after being massaged. The worst is, where is the body scrub that we paid for?

Second session 3pm: Kenby n me
Being really early here, we went to enjoy the spa facilities first. However before that happened, Kenby was upset after inquiring from the therapist on the package that we're going for and seek clarification on it. Apparently the "slight" change was we don't get body scrub anymore! a shocking find. Now we get something better, we get to choose either a cream bath or a body wrap, which is more expensive. In what way more expensive? We're losing a body scrub (worth RM180++) and there was no replacement given for it. Instead, they asked us to choose cream bath OR body wrap.

My initial thoughts were, maybe they got it wrong? maybe it's sorry we can't give u body scrub anymore, but now u get body wrap instead, which is more expensive - correct? and everyone is happy. WRONG. It's sorry no body scrub. Now your cream bath can be replaced with body wrap. SO if I choose body wrap, what happen to to my cream bath and body scrub? it's getting worst, not better.

why different from their package? looks same

scrub rm180 + cream bath (worth?) = replace with body wrap worth rm200

Our inquiries went to deaf ears. The therapist was upset that we question them. They told us body scrub can no longer be given because and guess what?

  • we ran out of scrub (HUH?  we made booking weeks ahead, why didn't u inform us prior to travelling nearly 2hrs to your spa?)
  • other customers did not complain about this (HUH? so we should not complain to you now?)
  • you're paying rm200 only so this is what you get (WHAT? this is outrageous! I CLARIFIED to her in a civil manner that our package is worth RM857 not RM200).
  • Therapist showed unhappy face and did not want to speak to us anymore. Instead send another younger girl to attend to us. (treated like king and queen? this is the service we get for questioning what we paid for? omg).

Immediately I called the coupon company for a solution. No answer. It's Sunday, sigh. What should we do now? We just found out there's no scrub! this is not what we paid for and we have travel almost 2 HOURS to get here. That's a total of nearly 4HRS just to come here! How about the first couple? they were already INSIDE! Kenby was really angry and upset over this. I thought let's be civil, do not make a scene. I'll contact the company tomorrow when they open for business. SO WE continue our session and I found out in the hard way, how this deal which seems so GOOD, ain't. AND P.S, it's weird that cream bath and body wrap were done first before massage. In my spa experience, massage was always done first then scrub, body wrap and bath. I got a headache after my session and needed a panadol badly.

Madu Manis Spa Package for 2 pax inclusive of: WORTH RM857

1. Hot Stone n Aromatherapy Massage
they gave us hot stone "BACK" massage. The massage didn't last more than 30mins, there were more time spent walking around, washing hands, leaving us there to sleep. When the masseuse came back, they turn us and gave us a brief "HEAD n SHOULDER" aromatherapy massage that ended our "massage session". Not even a hour. This is a luxury spa package?

2. Body Scrub (worth RM180++)
Out of stock. Not given to us. Never bother to inform us by call prior to our appointment or inform us CLEARLY (without needing us to probe and probe during 2nd spa session to find out the truth).

3. Foot Bath

nice, I guess this is the only thing I enjoyed.

4. Jacuzzi , Steam n Sauna
Facilities that can be enjoyed before or after your treatments (normally, and in this case they did tell us this too).

5. Cream Bath
Became an option: Cream Bath (soak in a bath tub for two) OR Body Wrap. The recommendation should be BODY WRAP when customers ask. Not do the easy way out n recommend cream bath so you filled the bath up and put two person inside. Thank goodness me & Kenby choosed Body Wrap.

6. Oasis Mocktail
Drank it :) nice.

Our spa experience didn't even reach 135mins. Guess what happened when I made an official complaint to the company by e-mail? they fwd the the complain to the merchant and guess what the merchant said? the two thing that I was chizzed off.

  • we know about this "customers"
    oh boy? u know? we're criminals now because we question our rights?
  • we gave them a more expensive treatment (body wrap) since there's no scrub
    u mean initially you try to make us believe the package is different from the spas and told us to choose either cream bath or body wrap (while hiding the fact scrub is not given).

The company just relay back what the merchant said and apologized for the experience. What that's it? what happened to protecting your customers against this?! I just had to reply (yet again, trying to explain) what really happened and defend ourselves against what the merchant said. I pull out two facts - this is not what we paid for and this is breach of the package. Again sorry for your experience and relaying back again what the merchants said in trying to defend themselves:

  • no scrub because we came late
    what? now you're using this to justify no scrub? The second couple was AN HOUR EARLY, while the first couple was made to wait for their turn!
  • no scrub coz it was out of stock
    so..... will you be happy if you were in my shoes? u arrived at a spa (2hrs away) did your spa and found out scrub was omitted out? (in the case of first couple session, second couple found out after questioning what the package was about).
  • it's not 135mins because sauna, steam and jacuzzi time is INCLUDED
    I didn't even get hot stone and aromatherapy massage. I got a "back" hot stone massage and "head and shoulder" aromatherapy massage. How misleading! Now they say it's less than an hour because the sauna, steam and jacuzzi time is included. Don't tell me they're going to say the Oasis Mocktail drinking time is also included next? I just realize the packaged wasn't clearly stated what was given and the breakdown of time. Maybe it's because I let my guard down and trusted this website, the merchant and a RM857 worth spa package. 
  • THE FAMOUS REPLY: We (all 4 of us) agreed to the "changes" in the package.
    When I clarified we did not agree, and that some of us didn't even know the change, the next reply was that we agreed to it because we did the sessions!

Utterly shocking. I didn't have energy to reply anymore to that company or the merchant. There's 4 witness here, and all 4 is tired of this game. This was suppose to be a birthday celebration, a pampering spa from head to toe for the birthday girl and she was not even happy that day. BAD EXPERIENCE  and BAD SERVICE and we are not satisfied with what has happened and with the replies to my complaint. No solution was given and they didn't even offer to refund us for what happen. They WERE the first ones to BREACH the deal, not us - the consumers. Would they prefer I claim for 4 hrs of travelling and the cost of the coupon (should I throw tantrum and refused to do the 2nd session)?

I will never trust a coupon deal again, regardless whether they're of what star or popular. It's all the same. Maybe I should be gangster and raise my voice there so settle the dispute rather than thinking the best way is to send in a complaint (which is advised by the site and they're not even open on Sunday to answer calls). I am not trying to offend anyone here, I know we all deal with customers before and some of us are in the service/coupon industry, but heck put yourself in my shoes (4 girls! in fact).

Do give me your comments on what you think about coupon deals? did you have any bad experience before like me? Was I wrong in complaining or questioning my package change?

18 comments:

  1. Sakit hati baca ur story....
    I've also experience the same thing when I purchase fr Milkdeal...http://posh76.blogspot.com/2011/05/tobat-bagi-free-pun-aku-tak-nak-pergi.html

    That's y we have to read carefully the T&C..if not sure get cheated...and we can't do anythg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i just siap read finish ur blog! the pics semua.. u deleted ke? I cannot see pics already but i read your whole post.. i also sakit hati!! what is wrong with these ppl sometimes. First I thought, those cheap deals surely cannot try. Not cheap also kena..adui!!!

      Delete
  2. This is totally an outrage!!!

    Business nowadays gone till so low ka? What sort of services are these? (both the merchant and the company)

    Thanks for sharing your story with all of us. I think it's time to let more and more people how those coupon companies and merchants doing their business now. Giving all sort of white lies and fake promises, mistreat their customers just only they thought coupon buyers are cheapo huh?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think they're trying to cut down one way or another on the discounts slashes. Some coupons, the merchant honor the deal, some try to tell u, oh u drank this water, it costs u RM20 (wtf!! yeap..this happened to me few months ago at yet another reputable fancy restaurant). Problem is once is alright, they pour that water bottomless to 13 other people and charge me rm100 for it. CRAZEEE

      Delete
    2. Really hard to trust coupon deals anymore.
      At some point the merchants try to earn some money back by giving you all sorts of 'add on' services as well.

      If can, really complain them all the way to national paper or something. They need to learn some lessons already!

      Delete
    3. i did tell them I will complain to consumer tribunal but they repeat "sorry for your experience" haha.

      Delete
  3. Ridiculous! I don't see the wrong of complaining why should we being pushed around when we are the one paying, like we owe them or something?!

    But then again, when you realized what you are getting for is not what you are paying for you shouldn't go through the session because you "disagree". In the merchant's POV its like you don't like the cake but you ate it anyway and then you wanna come back and complain the cake isn't good? They will treat it as a customer who wanna take advantage. I understand even the rage its so hard to not go through the session because we are talking about 2hours ride to there!

    "other customers did not complain about this"
    Doesn't mean they are please with your service?!
    I guess because customer know 90% of their complaints will be unattended (like their lukewarm reply to you) therefore what's the point of kicking up a fuss? I really hate that "this-is-what-you-paid-for-so-suck-it-up", it doesn't matter how much it is, the point here is we consumers being fooled around and they think the matter will go away itself because most of the consumers will not pursue till the end!

    ReplyDelete
  4. the first couple, went through didn't know there's no scrub (so too late, to turn back time)

    second couple (me & kenby) after travelling so far, i guess we rather go ahead but knowing other things were also "discounted" forms of the "deal"..made the whole thing more unpleasant in the end.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yeah and i thought just complain, maybe they'll be really sorry about what happened but no... after hearing the merchant's "side of the story", made me so angry now! if not I would probably say... sigh.. first and last time being in this kind of situation.

      Delete
  5. I'll stick to groupon. I bought 2 deals from another web, I won't be buying from there again. So far I have no bad experiences with groupon.

    I think it's also a Malaysian habit to push the blame or give silly excuses. Saying the scrub finishes just shows that they are not ready and prepared to receive customers. Whatever they did there was unprofessional from the beginning. If they wanted to change, they should call you guys earlier on to make sure their customers know of the change earlier instead of having a rude shock.

    Maybe you should complain straight to the head/ manager instead of the therapists or merchant.

    ReplyDelete
  6. my god...such horrible service =_= *pats*
    What kind of customer service will reply like that? wtf..
    Thanks for the warning!

    ReplyDelete
  7. True T.you should straight away go see PIC(person in charge)then you can make noise and threaten.its always better to handle it straight as they will usually try to settle it asap before you scare off other potential customers.:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. when i call the golden palm tree hotline n asked to speak to person in charge of the spa, they called the spa.. and the same lady answered sigh.... (i called right on the spot that day). Looks like it's that lady who's in charge.. and when the coupon site email to them for feedback, they already mention they knew "the customers" and the "case".

      Only way now is I get this out to the papers so the right department can reply my complain.

      Delete
  8. You go girl!

    I personally swear off these coupons after my bad experience with several hair saloons.
    I usually get amazing results doing rebonding in a saloon nearby my place.
    However, I bought two coupons from separate merchants and both of them didn't give me similar results.
    Ended up with super dry split-ends, no effect of after-rebonding hair at all.
    And they kept hard-selling me to 'add-on' money for a treatment.

    You're not alone Miu, there are definitely more dissatisfied customers out there.
    We'll be on your side ;)

    I hope you win again this time! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  9. You are doing a good job! This is really an interesting blog with lot of useful information.......Thanks for sharing with us.

    ReplyDelete
  10. The blog is really informative and i like to share it with my friends. Got a lot of information from this post. Please give us some more news.

    ReplyDelete
  11. OMG,this is unbelievably ridiculously horrible,this is the worst deal ever for RM205 worth of RM915??Somemore no body scrub :/ And you are right that they can switch it to body wrap to subsitute for the so called 'no more stock' body scrub *rolling eyes*

    ReplyDelete
  12. report it to consumer tribunal and follow up on it. since you had channeled it through the merchant/offer dealer and got all the responses, let the tribunal to interfere and let the merchant feel your pain instead. stands up on our rights peeps!

    ReplyDelete

meow thx ^_^ for commenting

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