Groupon fudges popularity of deals
Just how many people bought into that offer you're looking at? The deal counter is no longer accurate.
This post comes from Seth Fiegerman at partner site MainStreet.
The group-discount website decided to conceal just how many vouchers are sold for each deal advertised on its site by reducing the number shown in the deal counter "by a random percentage -- sometimes 0.5%, sometimes 19.5%, or anything in between," the company announced in a blog post Sunday. Now, if a business sells 20 vouchers on the site, Groupon might instead advertise that it has sold "over 17."
Why go to all the trouble of tweaking the system to promote a less precise sales figure? The short answer is to throw off analysts, though Groupon puts it a little differently.
"(S)ome clever people are using the counter to make (consistently incorrect) estimates of our total company sales, which we don't like for the same reason you probably wouldn't like if people tried to guess your weight all day," the company wrote. "This change is meant to continue to reflect deal popularity while making it clearly impossible to predict our sales."
At first blush, knowing the precise number of items sold might seem like an unnecessary detail. After all, how often do you walk into a grocery store and ask for sales figures on each kind of cereal? But as Groupon itself says in the announcement, customers use the deal counter to gauge the popularity of particular offers. For some customers, finding out how many other users decided a deal was good enough to buy might impact their own decision about whether or not to make the purchase. Post continues after video.
The deal counter also serves as one more way for businesses to advertise the popularity of their products, so randomly lowering the sales figures by as much as nearly 20% could significantly understate a company's success on the site. However, Groupon argues the change to the deal counter shouldn't have too great an impact on consumers or businesses.
"Consumers buy our deals because they're high-quality businesses and the experience is too good to pass up, not because a deal has sold 250 versus 300," Julie Mossler, Groupon's director of communications, told MainStreet. "Those who know us realize it's a competitive space and there's little to no effect on a merchant by noting a deal is selling well without giving the specific number sold."
Even so, there is a more fundamental issue here: Groupon has effectively decided to be transparent about the fact that it will now be less transparent about a key piece of sales information. Mossler says that in disclosing the change, the company showed just "how much we value our relationships with customers," but the question remains. Does disclosing an effort to conceal sales data make it any better?
More on MainStreet and MSN Money:
This is no big event. If I'm not already familiar with a restaurant or other business, I can usually tell in a few minutes if it's a deal I want by checking reviews.......Urban Spoon, Yelp, etc. My bigger concern is remembering to actually use something I've bought!
there's way to many restrictions on deal sites honestly i went to resturant.com and got a $25.00 gift card 20% gradtuity which has to be in cash (not a problem) + $7.00 and you must spend at least $35.00 at the end of the night we ended up actually spending $27-$33.00 which we never figured out were did our $25.00 gift card go.
Anyone else have there bank account hijacked? I know it wasnt Groupon itself but, someone was buying something with my account from there.
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