Groupon, FTD Valentine's Day Deal Not So Sweet

Dennis Faas's picture

A company offering a special discount on ordering flowers on line -- just in time for Valentine's Day -- was forced to shut down the deal a day early because customers complained the "offer" meant they saved little if any money.

The offer came from Groupon, which issues a daily deal from retailers aimed at users in a particular geographical area.

The way the deals work is that the offer is only good if a set number of people sign up to take advantage: that encourages more retailers to take part as they know they'll pick up enough extra business to make it worth their while. The all-or-nothing approach means customers have an incentive to promote the deal to friends, whether by email, social media or word of mouth, in order to make sure they get the discount. (Source:

Cut-Price Romance A Powerful Draw

Given that discount model, it naturally seemed a smart idea for online flower retailer FTD to offer a deal through Groupon last week. It certainly proved popular, with more than 3,000 people signing up for the bargain, which included $20 off if a customer spent at least $40 on flowers and gifts.

The problem was that the offer was only good on a specially created sub-section of the FTD site, and it soon emerged that prices here were much higher than regular customers were paying. In the case of a specific Valentine's Day bouquet, the price was listed higher than it normally was without the "deal" price. (Source:

Other complaints included hefty charges for service fees and shipping. And while the delivery schedule wasn't kept secret, some customers felt disappointed that flowers weren't guaranteed to arrive until after Valentine's Day.

FTD, Groupon Deny Cheating

FTD and Groupon deny that the pricing was a scam. Instead, the companies say the problem was that the deal didn't allow users to combine the offer with other discounts available through the FTD site. (Source:

The companies have now agreed that those who took up the deal will be compensated: they'll work out the price customers would have paid had both sets of discounts applied, and then refund the appropriate amount. Customers can email or call FTD (855-645-6214) for more information.

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