We’ve seen the explosion of a lot of group buying sites and daily deal sites since 2011 and it has been estimated that total revenues are in excess of Php100 Million a year (and it is still growing). As such, it’s not a surprise that problems and issues tend to crop up more than their usual fair share.
Perhaps, these issues have risen because of the volume of transactions, the impulsive buying habits of consumers towards these deals (higher likelihood of buyer’s remorse?) and the clever wording of the so-called “fine print”.
I noticed though that a lot (or the biggest) of these headaches that group buying sites are experiencing come from travel deals.
Last year, we heard of the story with MetroDeal and their travel package that got screwed up leaving a lot of customers not being able to avail of the vacation package or get a refund for it. This got the attention of DTI and I also heard that a competitor reported them to Facebook which eventually led to the closure of their FB Fan Page and losing more than 500k fans (MetroDeal has since then created a new Fan Page).
Last month another deal site, CleverBuy got into some problems with their travel/vacation package. I am not familiar with the deal or how it went but this email newsletter from the company’s CEO might shed light:
To our valued CleverBuyers;
We would like to express our sincerest apology regarding the problems that you have encountered with our recent deals specifically with our travel deals. Presently, we are experiencing chaos from these travel agencies when they declare that they canâ€™t accommodate anymore our customers who purchased their deals from CleverBuy due to some unexpected circumstances; bad weather, full bookings for the month of April, May and June, abrupt increase of airfare and hotel accommodations and some other pertinent reasons which we failed to take into account at the onset.
Aside from being our business partners, CleverBuy is not directly connected with these travel agencies. But we assure our customers that we will assist our merchants and those who have been affected with the aforementioned circumstances. We are now in contact with our merchant and making our move on how we can help to iron out the problems.
Again, we apologize for the inconvenience these proceedings have caused you. We assure you that we will be more careful next time in choosing our partner merchants. We pledge not to run away from our responsibilities to our valued CleverBuyers, but we are asking for sobriety, understanding and more patience in this trying time.
It is never easy for us to receive complaints from our customers for the unsatisfactory services rendered by our partner merchants since we are just their marketing arm but nevertheless, we will take responsibility to be the bridge between our merchants and our customers.
It has always been our pleasure to serve you. Thus, we are looking forward to continue serving you in the future. If there are any other concerns that you would like to address, please feel free to call us at (02) 553-8197. We would be more than willing to accommodate them. Thank you very much and have a nice day.
Oftentimes, the issue mostly stems from over-booking, fluctuating prizes of plane fares that are package along with the deal, and the fine print that usually requires customers to buy vouchers in pairs, upsells them, or include additional hidden charges.
These travel deals and the travel agencies that offer them could be the next target by the DTI. And, it might soon blow over that customer confidence towards online shopping will degrade instead of improve.
I haven’t really tried getting a vacation package from any of the deal sites before so I don’t have any first-hand experience. If you have any experience before, feel free to chime in at the comments.