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Groupon UK Christmas Fracas Makes Elf Quit, Kids Cry

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    CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 10: The Groupon logo is displayed in the company's international headquarters on June 10, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Groupon, a local e-commerce marketplace that connects merchants and consumers by offering goods and services at a discount, announced June 2 that it had filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering of its Class A common stock. The company, launched in Chicago in November 2008 now markets products and services in 43 countries around the world. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

    You can't make this stuff up, folks. This past weekend in London, nearly 2,000 families took advantage of a Groupon promising train rides around a winter wonderland for Christmas. But event organizer Penny Ward told the press that they were only able to handle 40 children an hour. We'll pause here so you can do the math, but, yes. Things didn't go so well. Although the staff did its best to keep pace, eventually things went awry. More from Ward: "“It was a complete nightmare. Children were crying and upset. One man even verbally threatened the lady who is dressed as a Christmas tree. One of the elves was so upset that she has resigned.”

    According to the swarthily handsome MSNBC, Ward had signed off on the Groupon deal -- implying she knowingly could have prevented this. But try telling that to the elf who quit and the tree who got yelled at.

    Meanwhile, the UK trading authority has begun an investigation on Groupon UK. The Advertising Standards Authority is following up on three major concerns:

    • Failure to conduct promotions fairly, such as not making clear significant terms and conditions
    • Failure to provide evidence that offers are available
    • Exaggeration of savings claims

    Objectively speaking, the cracks aren't just starting to show -- the light shining through them is starting to become blinding. Is this a case of just too much expansion too quickly? Poor management? When it all pans out, it'll be an interesting case study in... something.

    Groupon's stock is currently nestled at $19.32 -- climbing slightly but still not back at its initial $20 asking price.

    David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a columnist for EGM. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.