UPDATE: Groupon actually processed the return in the best way possible. The money is back in my account and they even gave me Groupon Bucks to make up for the trouble. I have no idea if it was a result of this post or not, but I’m pleasantly surprised with how the situation turned out.
In the fall of 2008, I was living high on the hog, as they say (and I assume “they” are farmers/ranchers because hog metaphors don’t come naturally to the rest of us). I was writing for a Nickelodeon sitcom, making more money than ever before, and feeling like even better things were just around the corner. They weren’t (*cough* major health issues *cough*), but I didn’t know that at the time. So I decided to use my new-found wealth to buy a big-ass TV. A 65-incher. Way too big for my apartment, but just big enough for my burgeoning ego. I loved it immediately. After six and a half years, though, that TV started to break down. First the sound went out, then the picture started doing funky things, then there was a constant knocking sound I couldn’t get rid of. Basically, its internal organs were shutting down one-by-one. I had to say goodbye to my beauty.
Bidding farewell to a loved one is hard, but in death there is also life. That may be too poetic of a way to say that I started looking for a new TV.
Since I’m a bargain hunter, I didn’t want to just stroll into Best Buy and pay retail for my new baby. Instead, I started hunting. After some extensive research, I settled on a huge 70″ TV from… Groupon? I know. I know. That should have been my red flag right there, but the deal was too good. I got a monster refurbished TV for less than $1000. I’ve had good luck with Groupon products before and I’ve had good luck with refurbished products before. With the positive reviews for this particular model and an incredible price, I figured I had found a diamond in the rough. And then it showed up.
At first, I welcomed my new TV in like the proud papa that I am. I lovingly set it up and gave it my undivided attention to tune the picture settings to as close to perfect as I could get. I gave it a comfortable spot in my living room with plenty of power for when it got hungry. Now, I just had to sit back and enjoy my new baby. That’s when I started having problems with the sound. At various moments, the sound would just disappear. Sure, I could turn it off and back on again and the sound would return, but I didn’t pay that much money to have a TV whose sound worked sometimes. I wanted a TV whose sound worked all the time.
I decided to wait a few days to see if the problem disappeared. Maybe it’s just a small glitch, I thought. Don’t give up on it yet, I thought. But then it happened again. And again. And again. And then the picture disappeared one time and I knew what all new parents fear: my baby was just not right.
So I entered the topsy-turvy world of Groupon customer service. To initiate a return, you have to provide some information and click “continue” on the support page, but the “continue” button couldn’t be clicked. Hmmm. I clicked on the chat function and texted with someone in “First Level Support” who definitely was just following a script. She informed me she was referring the case to a higher level of support. Yet, nobody contacted me.
When I logged back into my account today, I found that a return shipping label had been created. Hooray! Unfortunately, there were no instructions. Could I just box it up and send it back via the postal service? It’s HUGE. Like, so big it had to be sent via furniture movers. I don’t think the post office handles things like that. Could I wait until I ordered a replacement TV to send it back in? I had so many questions, so I went back on the chat module. Without boring you (unless I already have, in which case I apologize), I’ll just say that I spoke to two different online agents and two different phone agents before I got some real answers to my questions. The shipping label they had created was wrong. I needed a new one that allowed me to return via UPS. One agent said I had to send it back within 14 days of receiving the product, the other said I could wait until the end of next week. Mixed messages, misinformation, and confusion seemed to be the best I could expect here.
As it stands, I think I’ve got it figured out now. The biggest lesson I’ve learned? Don’t make big purchases from Groupon or other flash deal sites. They’re just not equipped to handle this process like a fully-functional electronics store would. I’ll leave my Grouponing to rock-climbing deals and savings on smoothies. If I had gone to an actual store, I could have just brought it back there without a hassle. Now, I’m stuck in this online shopping universe and crossing my fingers that my return will actually be processed.
Have you ever problems with a big online purchase like this? Let’s form a support group in the comments.
Photo via Groupon