The Dark Side of Online Group Coupons

UPDATED – April 28, 2011

Groupon and other similar group coupon sites are currently a huge online trend. Consider that Groupon recently turned down a buyout offer from Google for $6 billion, prompting Google to start their own version, Google Offers. For the uninitiated, these sites offer huge discounts at local businesses if a certain number of buyers put down their money up front. If the set limit of buyers isn’t met, the deal is off. The coupon merchant takes a percentage and the local business gets a large amount of cash before actually providing their product or service, as well as access to a large group of new, potentially loyal, customers.

Being a PhD student for the past few years has turned me into an excellent deal maven, so I love these sites. But a recent example here in Toronto has revealed the dark side of these coupons, especially as they become more popular. Aside from the privacy issues inherent in these sites (I suspect a large amount of revenue is actually coming from data mining and consumer research rather than the commissions on the coupons themselves), there is huge potential for abuse by business who want to game the system.

I’ve been watching this situation unfold for a few weeks now. I’ve sent it to a few media outlets and I’m disappointed no one has picked it up. These group coupons are becoming hugely popular, so people need to be aware of what they’re getting into.

Here’s the story: Starting in January, The Butchers – a local, family-owned business in Toronto – began using a number of the deal sites to offer huge discounts on their products (as much as $50 for $150 of meat). They used Dealgetters, Webpiggy (twice), DealByDay, DealFind and probably a few more that I haven’t found yet. They sold a huge volume of coupons, more than they could manage to fulfill. Customers started complaining, about rude staff, poor quality products (or no products at all), reduced business hours, massively inflated prices for coupon holders (but no one else) and even a refusal to honour the terms of the coupons. Some are even calling it a scam. Despite this, the folks at the Butchers keep using whatever new group coupon site they can find to do another offer. A rep at Webpiggy confirmed that by March, they had likely sold $1.5 million worth of coupons – a seemingly impossible amount of product for a small business to honour. The Webpiggy rep also told me that the owners of the Butchers are opening a fish store across the street, which suggests that all this group couponing is not an effort to get new customers (they’re doing a horrible job if that’s their goal), rather it is fundraising effort for their new business venture at the expense of customers who are not having their side of the bargain held up.

Full disclosure here: I bought a few of these coupons from Webpiggy. After being yelled at or hung up on by staff multiple times, getting my order delivered 3 weeks after placing it, and finding dirt and human hair on my chicken, I had them all refunded. The staff at the Butchers blamed the amount of coupons they had sold for their troubles, which makes it even more suspicious that they kept offering more deals on more sites.

The issue now, which presents an interesting problem for an unregulated industry, is that a large number of customers are asking for refunds. I was lucky, getting a refund early. But others are posting saying Webpiggy is no longer offering refunds, and Dealgetters has just told unhappy customers to deal with it. From what I’m reading on the forums, Webpiggy and other sites were covering the refunds out of their own pockets, rather than getting it back from the Butchers.

There is no clarity on who is responsible here. The customer is essentially at the mercy of the coupon provider, and has no recourse with the business itself if they are unhappy with the product or service. The local business provides the service, but the money is prepaid to someone else. It presents a very difficult situation for customers in cases like this where businesses are essentially gaming the system for their own benefit. In any other situation, I’m pretty sure this would be illegal.

I recently had a conversation with Jon DiMauro (who runs Evoke Salon) about this story. They ran their own group coupon deal but they did it the right way. His insight, which I thought was brilliant, was that the first rule of social media for businesses should be actually being a good, ethical business that treats its customers well. If you’ve got that down, you’re set in the social media space, and you don’t have to worry about hoards of angry comments and how to manage them. Social media marketers seem to just think its all about adding me on twitter and sending me spammy tweets, but that’s a whole other post.

Update (April 28):
The negative side of the Butchers’ group deals is finally getting some mainstream press coverage:

Ellen Roseman – Why You Might be Wary of Internet Coupons (Toronto Star)
Jim Richard’s Showgram (NewsTalk1010) (I did a radio interview for this one)

Also, a few very unhappy people have told me that the Butchers is now putting restrictions how much you can spend per visit on the $400 coupons (again, unfairly changing the terms of the contract they have with coupon holders). Last week it was $150 per visit, and on Monday it was $25, which considering their prices, doesn’t get you very much.

Update (April 18):
I got a hold of Eddie at Acadian Beef. This is what he told me:

– He does not supply organic meat to the Butcher
– He instead sells ‘naturally raised’ which he told me means ‘no antibiotics and they eat corn’ BUT are still ‘intensively farmed’ (a nice way of saying factory farmed).
– He himself buys meat from suppliers and cannot say exactly where or which farms the meat comes from.

What does this mean? The Butchers advertises and charges the same high price you’d pay for 100% certified organic meat from a local farmer, but you’re instead you’re getting factory farmed meat from who knows where, just like you would at the grocery store, except the animal is fed corn and no antibiotics. This perhaps explains how the Butchers is able to offer so many coupons and still make money.

To me,  factory farmed is not ‘naturally raised.’ The Healthy Butcher would agree. Check out their definition:

“Locally-raised using traditional methods, high quality, yet more wallet-friendly. Raised without antibiotics or hormones; humane treatment from birth to death.  The pasture or feed are not Certified Organic, and therefore may have been sprayed; however, most of the farmers we deal with run their farm to strict biodynamic standards.”

Update (April 17):
The Trueler has posted another update on Acadian Beef, one of the ‘organic farms’ that supplies The Butchers with the 100% certified organic meat advertised in Metro. A customer was actually frustrated enough to find out their address and drive out to check it out for himself (more investigative work than professional journalist Tim Kilazde did for his Globe & Mail piece, I might add!). And he took pictures:

I called them and left a message asking if they carry organic products and where they get their products from. But clearly, they are not a farm. Instead, the Trueler reports that they are a ‘Free-standing Meat Processor’ which is not held up to the same standards as the rest of the industry.

Update (April 16):
A few things to update you on:

1.) Dealticker took down their Butchers deal after The Butchers stated they would refuse to honour their vouchers. They are “now considering all legal remedies available against the Butchers.”

2.) The Globe and Mail ran a somewhat more balanced story that at least covered some of the customer concerns, but neglected to cover the bait and switch tactics that are being used by the Butchers. For example, how they keep reducing the store hours and now won’t honour coupons on weekends, or have raised prices for coupon holders or even switching to lower quality suppliers than those advertised on deals such as the one on Webpiggy in February.

3.) I’m also trying to track who is giving refunds. DealGetters tells me they have actually been refunding customers (and have refunded ‘thousands of dollars’) but people have yet to receive their refund checks or have not even received a reply to their refund request. Please let me know via the comments if you are having problems. Be sure to mention which company you got your coupon from.

Update (April 15) #2:
Without directly referring to the Butchers (it’s not hard to read between the lines) The Healthy Butcher has posted a detailed financial breakdown of why The Butchers coupon deal is financially unsustainable. Basically, if reputable stores like the Healthy Butcher who carry 100% certified organic meat offered the same deal, they’d quickly go under.

Update (April 15):
Dealticker is now offering yet another $100 for $400 deal, even though the Buytopia deal that ended yesterday was billed as the ‘last’ Butchers deal. In yet another bizarre turn, The Butchers have stated on their website that the Dealticker deal is ‘invalid.’ The Buytopia deal has now been extended to end past Dealticker’s, in an effort to keep it as ‘last’ deal.

Update (April 13):
It is becoming even more unclear just where The Butchers are getting their supply of ‘organic and naturally-raised meat.’ Of the suppliers listed on one of the original Webpiggy deals, Beretta Farms and Blue Haven Farms both have confirmed they have not supplied the Butchers in 2-3 years. Marcia Stevers of Blue Haven told me she was very angry that her name was being used, without her knowledge or consent. Even more baffling, was when I called Cascadian Farms (the supplier listed on the Buytopia deal today for the Butcher’s meat and poultry). Not only had they never heard of The Butchers, they don’t actually produce meat of any kind, just fruits and jams and cereals. [This was a copy error – Buytopia tells me the farm name is actually Acadian Beef]

Update (April 11, 2011):
Trueler.com has a done some analysis of the meat sold by the Butchers, suggesting they products are not at all organic or natural.

Update (April 9, 2011): The Butchers are now offering yet another deal: $400 worth of organic meat for $100 on Webpiggy. Speculations continue as to how they can possibly be making any money selling organic meat at that price.  The Butchers’ homepage has been updated with various notices regarding the coupons, including an indication that customer frustration seems to be reaching the boiling point:

The team at The Butchers have stated numerous times that you can NOT use more than one voucher at a time. Today we had numerous customers ask to use more than 1 voucher at a time and our staff politely said no. These customers then proceeded to cause scenes in the store. We are doing our best to accomodate all voucher holders, however we never expected to set a North American record with our voucher deals. Please be patient with us and our staff as it’s unfair to yell and scream at the staff if we run low on stock. Due to this behavior we will not honor vouchers on weekends.

Also interesting is mysterious explanation for the large number of deals, which leaves me wondering why they’d make contracts with almost every local online coupon provider:

We have been asked by many people why we continue to do these voucher deals. We agreed to do a specific # of deals and signed contracts so we are under contractual obligation. Once these contracts have been fulfilled we will no longer take part in these vouchers deals.

Update (April 2, 2011): Toronto Star’s coverage here. Clearly the journalist (Vanessa Lu) didn’t read the multiple angry threads on Chowhound or RedFlagDeals – the piece is basically nice PR for the Butchers, showcasing their ‘success.’

See also:
The Butchers on Yonge Street: Group-Buying Blowback
http://www.localseoguide.com/the-butchers-on-young-group-buying-blowback/

You Get What You Pay For – Why Deep Discount Coupons Aren’t Sustainable in the Food Industry
http://www.thehealthybutcher.com/livetoeat/volume43/LiveToEat-Volume43-WhyDeepDiscountCouponsAreNotSustainableInTheFoodIndustry.html

Chicago the epicentre of group buy deals but Toronto close with dozens of sites
http://ca.news.yahoo.com/chicago-epicentre-group-buy-deals-toronto-close-dozens-20110209-114232-994.html

The Butchers Scam on WebPiggy, Dealfind.. Additives in meat
http://trueler.com/2011/04/09/the-butchers-scam-webpiggy-dealfind/

Where do The Butchers “Organic meats” come from?
http://trueler.com/2011/04/15/where-the-butchers-organic-meats-come-from/

Meat Cheat
http://www.restaurantstoronto.com/blog/thebutcher-deal-dealfind-webpiggy-scam

The Butchers Visit
http://www.foodwithlegs.com/?p=2976

The Butchers Deal
http://www.foodwithlegs.com/?p=2960

Ninety-nine bucks for $400 worth of organic meat. Seriously?
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/toronto/globe-to/ninety-nine-bucks-for-400-worth-of-organic-meat-seriously/article1987680/

Why You Might be Wary of Internet Coupons
http://www.moneyville.ca/article/979709–roseman-why-you-might-be-wary-of-internet-coupons

My Interview about the Butchers on Jim Richard’s Showgram (NewsTalk1010)
http://media.newstalk1010.com/Podcasts/1755/JR_Apr_27th_Podcast.mp3

The Dark Side of Online Group Coupons

51 Responses

  1. What I am wondering is if they are declaring all of this extra “cash inflow” as revenue. I see on RFD someone else posted that they never received a receipt after paying and neither did I. I think that Revenue Canada should take a closer look at this business for potential tax invasion. Sure would be an easy way to save money if you don’t run it through your normal cash register system and don’t declare the revenue.

    Jeff Blake April 2, 2011 at 8:03 pm #
  2. This was a great read and I’ll be more mindful of using these sites. I try to only use them when I have something in mind that I am going to use right away (that being said, I have a massage coupon that came ridiculously cheap and no set plans to use it).

    Wabasso April 4, 2011 at 10:41 pm #
  3. It boggles my mind that they just keep doing deals after the others are falling through? Who’s drinking the kool-aid over there? A really bad look for the ‘organic independent’ business image, and proving naysayers right – that capitalism wins above all.

    There must be something else happening here and you seemed to get on the right track in thinking this is a quick scheme to get money for their other shop. But how can they think they will keep customers? Some ‘social marketing guru’ is throwing it heavy on the Kool-Aid and they’re thirsty.

    Btw, love your writing style Kate. :)

    Magda April 11, 2011 at 6:07 am #
  4. I’d like to commend you on your point-of-view. Not only do businesses have an obligation to operate ethically, but deal sites should use better judgment when deciding which businesses to feature. We, just like every other social commerce site, had the opportunity to showcase The Butchers. Our site chose to walk away. While the lure of revenue is obvious, we simply will not participate in a situation that has the hallmarks of a ponzi scheme. We hope that our competitors will start to demonstrate a bit more restraint — the trust of customers is on the line.

    Bill Heilmann (CEO, FabFind) April 13, 2011 at 2:57 pm #
  5. The Toronto Star didn’t want to make The Butchers look bad since that would in effect paint all the deal sites negatively too, which would hurt WagJag (which they own).

    The Butchers “social media strategy” seems to be to employ shills to go into every blog and forum they can find and flood them with claims of “excellent service, great meat, great prices, Marlon is great, I went in today and the fridge was full and they kissed my ass”… Yongeman on Chowhound and Tom on Yelp are two of the worst. I wished forum moderators would clue in on these and delete such posts. Instead Chowhound moderators let Yongeman post at will but will not allow anybody to challenge.

    MikeJefe April 13, 2011 at 11:36 pm #
  6. Chowhow Mods have repeatedly deleted posts that are critical of “The Butchers” under the guise that they aren’t topic… even though the topic itself is… ta-da.. The Butchers!!!!

    I get the sinking feeling they’re in on the grift too (somehow)

    Chris April 15, 2011 at 10:47 pm #
  7. After a week spent reading the horrible venom being spoken of our industry, I would like to take this opportunity to let it be known that certain Group Buying websites had butcher contracts but chose not to feature them for reasosn that are very logical, it does not make sense! Dealathons, and many other sites have all had the opportunity but have used the better judgement given to us to turn away.

    Many sites may be in this to make a quick buck, but let me assure everyone that the daily deal industry as a whole does operate swith dignity, and respect for both the merchant and the customer. Without either, we would not be able to offer these amazing deals you see every day. So before anyone decides that the whole industry is a scam or everyone is in this for the quick buck, please stop and see that there are actual companies that work their hearts out every day to offer the best deals, the most ethical deals and the best experience to our visitors.

    Dealathons would also like to take this opportunity to offer a 10% cash rebate to anyone who purchases Dealathons Deals and has had a previous bad experience with this butcher fiasco. We will provide the 10% rebate on your first 5 purchases so you can judge and see the difference when a company actually cares.

    Sincerely,

    David Magazzinich
    CEO Dealathons.com

    David Magazzinich CEO Dealathons.com April 16, 2011 at 6:32 am #
  8. Nice deal, HORRIBLE service.

    Been waiting TWO weeks for a meat order, supposed to come yesterday (Friday) didn’t, supposed to come today…hasn’t. Went to the store in person twice, CLOSED DURING the normal BUSINESS hours. Phone goes to machine so you can’t talk to anyone. E-mail takes a week to get a response. Absolutely HORRID customer service.

    Sunshine April 17, 2011 at 12:58 am #
  9. As the Community Manager of Yelp in Toronto I read all the time about the devastating effect that some group deals have on local businesses — and customers’ experiences. Of course, it’s not always the fault of groupbuy websites; The Butchers’ fiasco is well-documented by reviewers on our site and it seems they have extended themselves into too many deal sites. I couldn’t speculate as to why, but I definitely appreciate Kate’s research into the matter.

    Just to respond to MikeJefe’s point about Tom on Yelp. We do not remove any reviews from the site (unless they grossly violate the terms of service), but sometimes suspicious reviews are moved by the automated review filter. It looks like his review has been so filtered.

    Vivek S.
    Yelp

    Vivek April 17, 2011 at 12:59 am #
  10. @sunshine,

    who did you buy your coupon from? have you tried getting a refund?

    kate raynes-goldie April 17, 2011 at 1:16 am #
  11. Mr. Magazzinich:

    I just want to make it clear I have no issues against the group buying industry. I have bought many deals over the last year or two, for various businesses (restaurants, retail, and services) and have had no issues at all. These businesses accepted my coupon and gave me the meal, products, or services I expected, and I never felt treated like a second class customer because of it. It was no different than, say, bringing a $50 gift card into a store to redeem. The gift card is as good as cash and should be treated as such. And I admit, because of this treatment most have earned my repeat business, without coupons. That is what group buys are supposed to accomplish. I got to try places I might not have considered before, and they gained a new customer since they impressed me by the quality of their product/service enough for me to be willing to pay full price.

    What is wrong is how The Butchers has totally ruined the spirit of group buying and to some people, has unfairly painted the whole industry negatively when the negativity needs to go to one place and one place alone. Why else won’t the Star touch this story with a 10 foot pole? Because they own WagJag, a group buy site that ironically has never sold The Butchers deals.

    I will continue to buy group deals. I just won’t buy any from The Butchers anymore.

    MikeJefe April 17, 2011 at 6:35 am #
  12. Chris, I said the same thing on RFD today. It seems that Chowhound is either being paid off by The Butchers and/or group deal sites to try to silence criticism but allow shills to post, or worse, The Butchers and/or deal sites have threatened them with lawsuits if they refuse to silence the critics.

    Their moderators can be ridiculously ham-fisted at times but this is one situation they are clearly in the wrong. But they arrogantly do what they want and ignore users’ complaints or questioning.

    There was a pizza restaurant that for whatever reason, the moderators decided to pick on and delete any post about it. And these were posts by longtime users who did go eat there and had good experiences. It’s as if the mods, for some unknown reason, were trying to get this place to fail. Well, sure enough 2 years later that place is out of business. Thanks for nothing, Chowhound. You killed an honest business for NO REASON but you allow a scam like The Butchers to shill at will.

    MikeJefe April 17, 2011 at 8:40 am #
  13. @MikeJefe: The point of my post was not a rebuttal to your point. In fact I agree 100% with you and with most of the comments being said this week. The point I am trying to make is that there are Group Buying websites that employ the highest standards of business practice and would never imagine compromising the integrity of their company for 1 deal, no matter the reward. Unfortunately, like in every bunch, bad apples exist, and politics in every industry will exist until forever.

    One of the most difficult obstacles to over come in setting up an online business is the trust factor. Unfortunately due to the number of “scams” we hear about daily, people are wary to put any personal information online. To make matters worse, 6 group buying websites exploited a situation for their own personal gain, at the expense of the consumer’s trust. Unfortunately the greed of these websites and their short sightedness has caused the industry to be painted with one brush. Although the number of sites involved in this affair is high, do not take this as reason to turn away from Group Buying. As I stated earlier, there are many deal sites whose goal is to a offer the best deals possible and hopefully add a little excitement to people’s days with other shtick. Look around and you will find deal sites that are involved in the communities they serve and actually give back. Look at how many deal sites reacted right away to the disaster in Japan, and how many others give to various charities on a daily basis and you will be in awe.

    This posting should not be taken as an accusation nor an attack on any other sites. This post is simply here to remind everyone that Ethical Daily Deal Websites exist. There is a lot of good in this industry and it is not a mistake that it is one of the fastest growing industries in history. We cannot forget though why we are here doing what we do. We are here to offer the best deals and show off the best every city has to offer.

    David Magazzinich CEO Dealathons.com April 17, 2011 at 9:04 am #
  14. Thanks David.

    The Butchers, through their actions, have ruined three honest industries:

    1. Organic butchers, or any business that offers organic food
    2. Group buying sites
    3. Internet food reviews/blogs

    1 is obvious; who wants to buy “organic” when you are never sure if it truly is, and have to pay a premium to get it. 2 is also obvious, as you have mentioned. 3 is not so obvious, but with their use of shills wherever they can get away with it, it brings down the credibility of entire food boards/blogs including Yelp and Chowhound. Why should I trust Chowhound when their moderators allow pro-Butchers shills but disallow all complaints? How will I know that a place getting rave reviews is also getting complaints which are being deleted by the moderator team?

    Since Chowhound doesn’t answer when their actions are questioned, we have no recourse but to complain elsewhere. The Butchers has no credibility left, but neither does Chowhound.

    MikeJefe April 17, 2011 at 9:31 am #
  15. @MikeJefe: Not only has the actions of 1 merchant done this, but also the group buying sites who continued to allow this to go on without so much as a warning to redeem in stages or stopping the deal at a reasonable number to maintain the integrity of both company and product. Unfortunately like I said earlier greed blinded them and we see this even up to today with still another site insisting on running them. I urge consumers to see what is happening and take a stand. Like I have said earlier there are ethical daily deal websites, heck 2 of them have commented in this thread;) Let’s not only blame the butchers but also the enablers who promised him all this cash in hand and a very high non redemption rate, all in the hopes of the quick buck.

    David Magazzinich CEO Dealathons.com April 17, 2011 at 10:08 am #
  16. David,

    If The Butchers and those unethical deal sites all go out of business, they got what they deserved. The sooner it happens the sooner people can stop getting ripped off by them.

    One deal site is already looking into legal action. Can you say class action?

    MikeJefe April 17, 2011 at 12:35 pm #
  17. @MikeJefe is that dealgetters who is planning legal action?

    kate raynes-goldie April 17, 2011 at 12:39 pm #
  18. No, it’s DealTicker; see link #1 in the update for April 16.

    MikeJefe April 17, 2011 at 2:35 pm #
  19. Some government resources that everyone should be aware of, especially if you’re interested in filing complaints:

    Competition Bureau of Canada (http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/)
    Canadian Food Inspection Agency (http://www.inspection.gc.ca/)
    Canadian Consumer Information Gateway (http://consumerinformation.ca/)

    MikeP April 17, 2011 at 11:33 pm #
  20. found on the RFD forum

    For the longest time they said they would be open on Good Friday, now, they are saying they will be closed on Good Friday. I guess they realized it was against the law to open on Good Friday…

    ————
    STORE HOURS

    Update April 11th, 2011: The Butchers will be CLOSED on Good Friday.

    Tuesday-Friday 10am – 11:30am
    Closed from 11:30am-1pm**
    Open Again from 1- 6pm
    Saturday: 10am-6pm
    Sunday: 11am-5pm

    Just a short while ago while the groupbuy deals were going on they extended their week day hours to go until 8pm… It shows they close at 6pm now.

    mark April 20, 2011 at 6:28 am #
  21. Well, they’ve totally changed their website now. Its down to a single page. I’m wondering what was wrong with the content on the other pages – wrong enough for them to remove them ;)

    mark April 20, 2011 at 9:40 pm #
  22. Some very interesting new developments. No wonder they are reducing their store hours … between finding new suppliers, creating new companies and designing new web sites they hardly have time to sell anything.

    http://trueler.com/2011/04/21/marlins-fish-marlons-butchery-meat/

    mark April 22, 2011 at 12:34 am #
  23. “The Butchers” will magically go out of business and the store will reopen under one of these new names. And of course the “new” store will not honor any Butchers vouchers.

    Where is Peter Silverman when we need him? Maybe we need to bring in David Horowitz of “Fight Back!” fame (remember that TV show from the 80’s)? Either of these guys would have a field day with Marlon the Madoff and his little butcher shop scam.

    MikeJefe April 22, 2011 at 12:05 pm #
  24. (article in the Toronto Star – the print edition also)

    Roseman: Why you might be wary of Internet coupons

    http://www.moneyville.ca/article/979709–roseman-why-you-might-be-wary-of-internet-coupons

    mark April 25, 2011 at 10:20 pm #
  25. StartupBuys.com is available in 50 of the United States with plans to go Global for all New Small Businesses. They don’t take any portion of the proceeds from any coupon offerings by it’s business members. It’s completely free. In addition to Group Coupons, members can create and post 5 different kinds of coupons plus there are Local Deals of the Day, Deals of the Week and Deals of the Month. There’s even a ‘suggest a coupon’ feature (kind of like a reverse group coupon) which the business owners can either approve or decline.

    Brian Schwartz April 28, 2011 at 2:01 am #
  26. Great article.

    “To me, factory farmed is not ‘naturally raised.”

    I’ve always thought the same thing, but I wonder if I’ve been wrong all along. I buy a fair bit of chicken at whole foods to avoid factory farming. I need to look into this further.

    The Dude.

    The Dude April 29, 2011 at 7:44 am #
  27. I forgot to add the ever-growing list of links re. The Butchers:
    http://oppugno.com/blog/2011/04/27/the-butchers-in-toronto/

    The Dude April 29, 2011 at 7:57 am #
  28. Great article! I already purchased 2 vouchers for The Butchers, but I will be more careful in buying this kind of vouchers in the future. Thanks for your information. It is a shame that some newspapers & online review websites are afraid to tell or even hide the wrongdoing of some businesses.

    I went to the Butchers today (Friday) all the way from my Oakville home. This was actually my 2nd visit. Last time I went on a Monday when they are usually closed. They were in fact opened and said they would sell me meat only if I pay cash or I have to come back some other time if I wanted to use the voucher. Anyways, today with a $100 voucher, I was only able to get 2.5 pieces of beef steaks ($12.99/lb), 0.5 pound leftover of “not so lean ground beef” ($6.99/lb), 4 pieces of sausages ($10.99/lb), and some overpriced “naturally raised” chicken breasts ($10.99/lb). I can easily get “naturally raised” chicken (antibiotic free, hormone free, free range, vegetable grain fed etc) at my local grocery store at a cheaper price.

    There were lots of chicken breasts, very little beef, 2 kinds of sausages and that was it. They now also imposed a rule of only 3 steaks purchase per visit which was ridiculous as I have a family of 4. It was very difficult to redeem the $100 voucher because there was no meat to buy literally (more than half of the fridge was empty).

    Amy April 30, 2011 at 11:41 am #
  29. Interesting take on the Groupon-type deals. Have a look at this post to see why The Butcher’s and other deals like it are so screwed up:

    http://bit.ly/j3DgOv

    Michael P. May 12, 2011 at 9:19 am #
  30. I have purchased four $100 worth $400 coupons from Webpiggy. I went to the store to check out before ordering on-line so that I knew what kind of meat I would be getting. It was a Sunday morning. Their counter was basically half empty, mostly were chicken products and ground beef. Definitely did not see any steaks, beef, pork. A young teenage politely said that their fridge compressor was out of order and their delivery was not arrived and was very sorry. It seemed “broken compressor” was used often as an excuse. I also e-mailed asking meaning of “organic and naturally raised”. Their reply, came back in about 4 days, was chicken and beef are organic and pork usually naturally raised.

    I wished I have google first before I brought. I found a lot of negative comments. They changed their store hours, posted limit for redeeming coupon and all of a sudden their website became one page site. I felt something was not right and wanted to use my coupons ASAP. I placed an order on end April. But to this date, there was no reply or confirmation.

    I was worried that I would lost my money, so I requested refunds from Webpiggy. To my surprise, it was handled immediately and I got my money back through credit card in about a week’s time.

    Don’t they said their fish shop would be opened in early May. For sure this won’t happen until The Butchers closed down. What a scam!!

    Sasa May 18, 2011 at 10:37 am #
  31. I am also a victim of their so-called “deals”. They recently changed their store rules AGAIN, and now they are not honoring vouchers till the end of May. This is absolutely ridiculous. I feel angry every time I spend 1 hour one way to use the voucher and end up coming home empty-handed. One time I had to BEG them to let me use my voucher. It is not fair that I haven’t been made aware of these stipulations before and they keep on adding new rules as they go, against the voucher holders. Is this even lawful? I wonder if people could get together and file a class action.

    Eunji May 28, 2011 at 2:04 am #
  32. Wow, this is brazen: The Butchers in Toronto Further Restricts Coupon Fulfillment!
    http://bit.ly/jnnSbt

    GreySon June 5, 2011 at 2:24 pm #
  33. You sounded great on CBC today!

    MikeJefe June 7, 2011 at 2:15 pm #
  34. Interesting read after falling victim to The Butchers. Went there on the weekend and it was closed! After a little searching stumbled across your site. I have emailed deal find and will say what they come back with. Interesting to note too, my girlfriend has been trying to get into Ostara Spa here in Toronto with a coupon bought through deal find as well, when she tried to book appointment she was told they would take her info and call her if there was a cancellation. She has just informed me that after checking their website that they have gone out of business! Another example retailer losing money through this game? And in the end we are the victims, we have been able to use 2 vouchers out of 5 purchased…..

    danno August 4, 2011 at 10:34 am #
  35. This is a dealticker scam, for the record I have contacted deal ticker last week and no response as yet.
    It all started with this link http://www.dealticker.com/_5_for__120_worth_of_products_courtesy_of_hair_radiance__free_shipping_throughout_canada__en_4204prod.html. I needed a new chi iron and opted to buy the 5 dollar coupon. I then went to the hair radiance site and spent close to 80.00 fulfilling the offer. I get an email about a week later saying the color was not aavailable but they had another colour of chi iron, i was ok with that.
    3 weeks later I get the iron, it is not even close to a good knockoff of chi, chi is not even mentioned on the iron or packaging, the plates are so thin, i could have got this at walmart for 20 bucks.
    I have gone to paypal and set up a dispute as neither hair radiance of deal ticker will even address this and will be faxing proof of the fake to paypal, thankfully the local salon dealer of chi took one look and knew it was trash.
    I am done with these group deals, they do not screen these businesses.
    This deal was running all over the country through different groups, if you bought it chances are you have no Chi iron, get in touch with paypal.

    Jackie August 16, 2011 at 9:36 am #
  36. The Butchers website says they plan to re-open mid-September. Their FAQ says:
    “Q3. Given you couldn’t keep up with demand from this campaign, why did you keep doing it.
    A. We were contractually bound. We were naive – we hadn’t realized the conditions when we agreed the contract with a number of the coupon companies that meant even though we’d sold more coupons that we’d expected, we were contractually bound to run a second campaign. This really compounded the problem.”

    Can any deal site folks confirm whether this sort of agreement exists or is typical for the on-line deal/coupon industry? I am curious as to whether or not what they are saying is true.

    Voucher Holder September 5, 2011 at 4:43 am #
  37. wow.. i’m surprised no one from the Ministry or even our candidates for election in Ontario is taking a stab at this… truly the public is being robbed.

    hilda September 24, 2011 at 2:39 am #
  38. http://www.thebutchersorganic.com/faqs.html well seeing they are supposed to be open in mid September and I don’ t think they are.. they certainly must think the public is stupid.

    hilda September 24, 2011 at 2:46 am #
  39. The butchers is now Marlon’s Meat, the store is open and renovated.. place looks beautiful.. So happy the re opened, been a customer for the past 8 years.

    Mike October 15, 2011 at 7:04 am #
  40. I emailed buytopia regarding my voucher, they booked me an appointment at the butchers where I was able to pick up my turkey for thanksgiving, i’m satisfied now! very nice place

    George October 18, 2011 at 9:17 am #
  41. We are a provincially inspected meat shop offering great deals through alot of these web sites. We have been helping alot of customers who were affected by this so called store. Our company sells organic chicken that comes in packaging clearly showing you the farm it comes from. Many of you have come into our store and I can tell you we will always stand behind what we sell. Pls. Trust
    E when I tell you not all companies operate the way that company did. Give us a try and we will prove to you, we’re worth the drive too Scarborough. Feel free to call us anytime 416-298-1350

    William December 14, 2011 at 8:24 am #
  42. Would LOVE for you to investigate DealGetters.com and Paramount Travel for the useless voucher they sold for Great Wolf Lodge. Paid over $230 and had our reservations cancelled and no recourse. DealGetters to date have not responded to our phone calls and emails for a refund. Despicable! SCAMMERS!

    Prism January 28, 2012 at 4:19 am #
  43. I too received a refund through my credit card this week. It took months of threats including filing a complaint with the Consumer Protection Branch but I got the money back.

    Peter knows that the contract is between Buytopia and the customer and that’s why he will give you a refund in the end.

    The Consumer Protection Branch staff are very much aware of this issue. If you want to file a complaint they will become involved but you first need to send Buytopia a demand letter.

    Here is a link to the Consumer Protection Branch’s complaint process:

    http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/Pages/Complaint_Steps_to_File.aspx

    Don’t give up.

    successful complaint February 5, 2012 at 3:58 am #
  44. Searching for an email or phone number ???to contact
    David Magazzinich CEO of Deal a thon can’t leave messages or contact -looking for a
    Refund on a business that phone number is disconnected ? . Is this common practice?

    Tina Breton March 9, 2012 at 12:17 am #
  45. Stay far far away from this place. The customer service with this company is horrible and that’s putting it nicely.

    I purchased a coupon to use at a local business to use from this dealathons website. Something went wrong with the merchant and I was let down by their service. When I called I was expecting the person to at least listen to my concerns at dealathons, but instead of listening to my concern the rep only insulted me for redeeming the voucher in the first place. I was told by “David M.” that it was too bad that I didn’t have a good experience with the company I bought the voucher for. The website for dealathons refund policy states: “At Dealathons we strive to offer the best experience for our subscribers. We also understand that life happens, so we offer a 14 day refund policy on all of our deals, but remember that most of our deals don’t expire so just hold on to it until you are ready to use it. “Dealathons stands behind every business featured on our site. Our mission is to offer our subscribers the best their city has to offer. We expect our subscribers to be treated well and to have a positive experience. If for whatever reason you feel you did not receive the services offered by the voucher you purchased or you were treated unfairly, please contact Dealathons at 416 461 4552 or email us at support@dealathons.com and we will do our best to resolve the matter.”

    The person even repeated the same refund policy on the site as we spoke. Everything I asked he countered as if I was personally attacking him. He said that he could not refund me as it would take away from Dealathons profits. They say they stand behind the businesses they promote but that is not true at all. This David M person said he was “the one and only working there”. Turns out this David M who really is David Magazzinich the CEO for this company, which truly now shows how the company is run. I will not be purchasing anything from this site again nor recommend it to anyone ever.

    Steven September 29, 2012 at 7:16 am #
  46. I had an expired coupon from webpiggy. I called and explained, and they have just told me that because it is expired i get no refund OR credit. As they did not provide the service I paid for, I find this dishonourable. Quite unlike WagJag or Groupon.

    Threed January 8, 2013 at 3:18 am #
  47. I bought a coupon from Dealticker for a spa package with TWC image spa. TWC cannot provide me with any appointments for months and TWC asked me to contact Dealticker for a refund. I have contacted Dealticker and they refused to provide me with a refund. I have been very patient and followed DealTicker’s advice, to wait for TWC image hair spa to contact me to schedule an appointment. However, this has not happened. Essentially I have paid for a $35 non-service, having received absolutely nothing in return. I have not received a satisfactory response after multiple emails. It has been months. Dealticker finally confirmed with me today that they will not provide any refund even when TWC cannot provide me any service/good. Don’t ever buy from Dealticker!!

    j June 22, 2013 at 3:19 am #
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