Exactly a month ago I brought you the story of GroupOn‘s “deal” where you could buy a bundle of comics for a pretty impressive discount. For $24.99 you can purchase 25 Marvel or DC comics. $1 a comic isn’t too bad. For $39.99 you can get 50 comics, 25 from Marvel and 25 from DC (plus tax). The “deal” also claimed the 25 comics had a “value” of $99.99, and the 50 comics had a value of $249.99. That’s a “discount” of 75% or 84%. What prompted this was really how those two values worked out, because even that doesn’t make sense. I decided to see how honest this deal actually was, and the answer is not so honest, and probably qualifies as “false advertising.”
First, the unboxing video.
You can see, the comics do run the past 30 years, with some comics from the 80s, 90s, and 00s. But, does the package live up to the claimed value? The answer is no.
False Advertising – “Any advertising or promotion that misrepresents the nature, characteristics, qualities or geographic origin of goods, services or commercial activities” (Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C.A. § 1125(a)).
I went through and priced out both cover and “guide” value of the comics. The 25 DC Comics came out to be valued at $60.14 going by the cover, and $75 looking at guides (and that’s a generous pricing for issues). For the 25 Marvel comics, their value is $51.26 going by cover, and $78.25 looking at the pricing in guides. That’s a total of $111.40 or $153.25, well over $100 less in “value” than the advertised claim. Each package was also less than the $100 value claimed for the separate 25 comic packages. At the end you can find a complete list of comics received and value noted. To add insult to injury, one of the Marvel “comics” received was the Avengers/Invaders sketchbook produced by Marvel and Dynamite and I’m pretty sure came from with Wizard Magazine. In fact that one had “Not for Sale” printed on the back.
I followed up with GroupOn’s customer service. The first response is below:
Sorry for any confusion. It is never our intention to mislead anyone about the value of a Groupon.
The value and discount percentage listed on each deal reflect the regular full price for that product or service. If the business offers other temporary discounts or decides to change their standard pricing after their deal is featured, the relative savings and value might change.
Unfortunately, we cannot foresee or control these changes. That said, we work very hard to make sure that the deals we feature are the best around.
I hope this helps to clarify the situation, and we appreciate your continued support.
Groupon Customer Support
Doesn’t really answer my question of the discrepancy of the value of goods advertised versus what was received. I followed up for clarification, and received the next response:
I’m very sorry for the trouble. Unfortunately, books, beauty products (excluding electronics), undergarments, perishable items, any items marked “final sale,” and items that have been worn are nonrefundable and may not be returned. You can find this information in our Return Policy at http://gr.pn/GoodsReturns, and in the Fine Print on the purchase page for this Groupon at http://groupon.com/deals/gg-dc-comics-and-marvel-comic-book-bundles-1.
Of course, if your item was damaged prior to delivery, please let me know and I can assist you in returning the product in that case. However, due to the nature of this deal, we aren’t able to provide a replacement.
I checked and see that you have purchased Comic Book Bundle: DC-Marvel/50. Could you please provide us the details of the items received by you if you have further questions?
If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to ask.
Groupon Customer Support
Ok, again not answering my question. I also followed up with GroupOn’s press department, and have yet to hear back as this has gone to print after giving them a few days.
But, is it false advertising? To establish false advertising, you must prove five things:
- a false statement of fact has been made about the advertiser’s own or another person’s goods, services, or commercial activity;
- the statement either deceives or has the potential to deceive a substantial portion of its targeted audience;
- the deception is also likely to affect the purchasing decisions of its audience;
- the advertising involves goods or services in interstate commerce;
- the deception has either resulted in or is likely to result in injury to the plaintiff.
To this purchase, all five of the items are checked off. The “value” is falsely stated. There is deception, again with the value stated and discount received. If the deal was just 25 comics for $24.99, I would not have purchased it, most shops have a better selection of dollar bins or 50 cent bins. It does involve goods. It also involved “injury” which is the money lost in purchase.
With over 1,000 packages bought, GroupOn has a pretty big potential lawsuit on their hands. But, as with all things, buyer beware, especially when too good to be true claims are made.
And the list of comics.