Groupon complaints up despite OFT probe

The number of complaints made about Groupon advertisements is accelerating despite the daily deals service being the subject of an ongoing investigation by the trade watchdog over its marketing practices.


The Advertising Standards Authority received 162 complaints about 161 advertisements in the three months since Groupon was referred to the Office of Fair Trading in December over persistently breaking the advertising code for misleading promotions.

In the three months prior to the referral, the ad watchdog received 86 complaints about 77 advertisements.

The ASA began passing complaints to the OFT after finding that Groupon broke advertising codes 48 times in the first 11 months of 2011. Eleven complaints were upheld and 37 were informally resolved.

The ASA said at the time that it had “serious concerns about its ability to adhere to the advertising code”.

The OFT probe is ongoing but possible sanctions include forcing Groupon to change advertising practices. The OFT did not respond to a request for comment.

Complaints have risen with the increase in popularity of the daily deals site, which reported revenues of $506.5m (£319.7m) in the final quarter of 2011, up from $172.2m (£108.7) in the same period in the previous year.

A spokesman for the site says: “The number of complaints to the ASA is tiny in the context of the several million vouchers Groupon has sold in the UK in the period in question, and the many happy customers who return to Groupon again and again.”

He continues: “That said, we are committed to customer satisfaction and take every complaint seriously. Where there have been ASA adjudications against Groupon, we have taken appropriate steps to ensure the issue doesn’t arise again.”

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here