February 14, 2011, 4:42 PM

Groupon and FTD try to fix online coupon mishap

Consumers complained that FTD jacked up prices for a daily deal via Groupon.

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Groupon and online flower retailer FTD Group Inc. are offering refunds to consumers after complaints that a Valentine’s Day deal offered last week was actually not a deal at all.

Shoppers accused FTD of jacking up their prices when they discovered that the flower arrangements they had bought using a Groupon voucher for $20 off an FTD flower purchase of $40 or more were actually priced lower as sale items on FTD.com but priced higher on the specific FTD web page to which Groupon users were directed, essentially cancelling out any savings. 

Though FTD President Rob Apatoff apologized for the confusion, he denied inflating prices and said the offer made it plainly clear that the discount did not apply to sale items. “For those who already purchased items that were on sale on FTD.com at the time of your purchase using your Groupon, FTD will issue an automatic refund for the additional savings,” he said in a statement.

This is the latest in a string of mishaps that have plagued the online coupon site over the last several weeks. Since it reportedly rejected Google Inc.’s buyout offer late last year, Groupon has apologized for providing Japanese customers with late, poorly made versions of traditional New Year meals, and for controversial Super Bowl TV ads that critics said poked fun at the plight of the Tibetan people. Complaints that the commercials were offensive drove the company to the pull the ads from the air. In a blog post last week, Groupon founder Andrew Mason said, “We hate that we offended people, and we’re very sorry that we did – it’s the last thing we wanted.”

Groupon reportedly sold at least 3,000 vouchers, but the daily-deal company offered no immediate comment. FTD is No. 59 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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