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Portland Bans Some Groupons, Institute of Justice Files Federal Lawsuit

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    NEWSLETTERS

    In its eternal efforts to keep the city weird, Portland has opted to ban all Groupons offering discounts on limousine and sedan services. The city has its reasons, which are outlined in a recent Weekly Standard article

    The Portland city council two years ago put in place regulations that force limousine and sedan services to charge a $50 minimum for rides to and from the airport, and at least 35 percent more than taxis for trips to any other destination. And these transportation companies cannot pick up customers until at least an hour after the customer calls for a ride... But when two companies offered their chauffeur services at a cut-rate through Groupon in separate months last year, Portland responded each time by assessing fines on every Groupon sold: a total of $635,500 for Towncar.com and $259,500 for Fiesta Limousine. The firms refunded their would-be customers rather than risk going bankrupt.

    This actually has been part of a continued effort by Oregon to edge out the discount coupon service. Back in September 2011, the state's dentist and chiropractic boards banned it for the same reason: It feels Groupons violate its no fee-splitting policies.

    Now, the real question here is: Can states even outlaw Groupons? The Institute for Justice, a public-interest law firm, doesn't think so, and it filed a federal lawsuit to prove it's serious. IJ also uploaded a YouTube video outlining the case. In it, Attorney Wesley Hottot says what Portland is doing "isn't just wrong; it's unconstitutional."

    You can read more about the lawsuit here

    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.