The code, which can viewed in full here, covers six broad areas:
- Clear, accurate and honest communication with merchants and subscribers
- Ensuring appropriate policies and procedures are in place and accessible on the main website.
- Refraining from advertising prohibited items
- Ensuring all commercial electronic messages comply with relevant legislation.
- An easy to understand refund policy
- Clear and effective procedures for handling complaints
Industry trade association the Global Daily Deal Association (GDDA) hopes the voluntary, self-regulatory code will promote “fair, honest and ethical best practice” in the industry in a bid to “improve its reputation with both consumers and merchants”.
Perception has been hit by a string of recent high profile cases of misleading practices. Most notably, Groupon, which was earlier this year ordered to change its marketing practices by the Office of Fair Trading after attracting hundreds of complaints about its promotions.
Despite this, Groupon has decided not to sign up to the code. A spokeswoman says: “We take customer and partner satisfaction very seriously and support the concept of a global code of conduct. Any code needs to be robust, enforceable and ensure the highest possible protection. At Groupon we are constantly improving our standards and approaches to lead the industry in ensuring the best possible levels of partner and customer service.
“We will be continuing our engagement with regulators, retail and consumer organisations. We welcome these types of initiatives and will evaluate them on an ongoing basis.”
Just a handful of services have signed up to date – DiscountVouchers.co.uk, Time Out Offers, MumsandMe and DealCollector in the UK and Dailydeal.de, Sweetdeal and Bownty elsewhere in Europe. The GDDA is hoping that more will sign up over time.
Sanctions for breaking the code are limited by its voluntary nature. Signatories breaking the code and subsequently failing to address breaches could be forced to withdraw from the agreement. Complaints could also be forwarded to the relevant advertising or competition authority.
Stavros Prodromou, CEO of the GDDA, says: “The GDDA has spent a great deal of time producing a Code of Conduct that is suitable and relevant to the industry. The sector has previously been affected by a lack of merchant and consumer confidence. The code is the first step toward improving the sector’s reputation.”