Last week I got an e-mail from Groupon for one of their "Now! Deals". Groupon is one of many discount coupons providers that offer deals to a variety of retailers, restaurants and other service providers. As a subscriber to their free service I get e-mails sent daily to me.
Unlike regular Groupons which, when purchased, are usually good for anywhere from six months to a year, Now! Deals are a one day offer for a particular good, service or restaurant.
On Friday I saw one for $1 for $40 worth of food at Ristorante Roma, an Italian restaurant on Bloor east of Dufferin. Not being one to pass up a great deal I eagerly bought one. There was one stipulation - the Groupon had to be used between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Now, being a last minute purchase it was hard for me to find someone to go with. Unlike me, most of my friends work Monday through Friday. I contacted a few people, but in the end no one else could go. I suppose it didn't help that it was already late in the afternoon as well. Earlier in the day I had run an errand for my sister getting the all season tires on her car changed to winter.
Before I went, I called the restaurant up to see if it was very busy and if there would be much of a wait for a table. I asked the young lady who answered this and mention I had a Groupon. She said it wasn't busy and I told her I'd be down in about half an hour. It was already 2:00 in the afternoon by this time. So after the phone call I quickly hopped on the subway and made my way downtown.
When I arrived at the restaurant I gave my Groupon to the hostess/server. She told me I could sit anywhere since there weren't too many people there at the time. Even though I was on my own I picked a table for four near the back of the restaurant.
The server came by with a menu and asked me if I'd like something to drink. I just asked for a glass of water and went back to studying the menu.
A short time later a young lady came in on her own. She also had a $1 for $40 Groupon just like me. She sat at the table beside me and we chatted about how good the deal was.
A few minutes later I gave the server my order and she took it into the kitchen. Not long after we saw and older lady walking around mumbling some things under her breath. She seemed perturbed about something.
Well, we found out what it was about when she came out and told us she was the owner and that she couldn't honour our Groupons. She told us that she didn't order them from Groupon and that she didn't know how they got on their site. She was trying to contact them to resolve the problem. She said the last time she ordered from them was three months ago.
She told us that she was losing a lot of money honouring the coupons. Quite a few people had already come in to this point. So we were the people she decided to cut it off at.
The other girl was quite annoyed at that. She walked pretty far to get there. And I had taken the subway down from my place which also took awhile. So not only did I waste transit fare, but a good part of my afternoon.
I e-mailed Groupon about this. After a couple of days they got back to me. All they could offer was an apology and refund my $1. There was no explanation of what happened. I don't know who made the error, Groupon or the restaurant, but I wasn't very impressed with either of them.