CONSUMER ALERT: Online Coupons Not Always Honored By Merchants - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

CONSUMER ALERT: Online Coupons Not Always Honored By Merchants

MSNBC.COM - When you buy an online coupon, how do you know a store will honor it?

Edgar Dworsky walked into Rose's Chinese Restaurant in Waltham, Mass., last week with a $6 coupon he'd purchased for $3 and found out the hard way that not everything is what it seems online.

The online coupon category is getting more crowded daily. Led by giants Groupon and Living Social, there are now hundreds of smaller competitors. But not every email offering a discount is a good deal.

Dworsky purchased his coupon from MobileSpinach.com in early February. But when he went into Rose's, the owner said he'd never heard of MobileSpinach and didn't plan to honor it. Instead of enjoying a cheap meal, Dworsky found himself in the middle of the messy world of online merchant discounts. Dworsky's tale isn't unique. Many store owners around the country say they've never agreed to accept coupons being offered for sale on MobileSpinach, and 

the firm has been dogged by nationwide complaints that it is selling allegedly "fake" coupons. 

The firm's co-owner, John Vitti, blames the complaints on misunderstandings, poor memories of merchants and over-eager affiliate salespeople, and says he's happy to issue refunds.  But merchants getting pitched daily by ever-increasing number of Groupon-like sites are often caught in the middle, completely confused by the complicated world of e-coupons.

Dworsky was equally frustrated when he tried to use his coupon on Feb. 11.

"The man at the counter, the owner, said he didn't know what this certificate was, that he never agreed to offer these certificates, and that he had not been paid for them. He indicated that someone had come in the day before with one like it also," Dworsky said. click here to read the full article from MSNBC

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