Groupon Testing VIP Program, Sending Mixed Messages

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It must be all the improvisers working at Castle Groupon influencing the way the corporate hive-mind there operates, because the latest news out of Andrew Mason's company suggests they're just making stuff up as they go along.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Groupon will introduce a new $29.99 a year program called Groupon VIP that will allow Very Very Important Customers to get refunds on deals they couldn't use and scoop up deals that expired previously but didn't sell.

It's the former point that doesn't quite make sense. News came out Wednesday that Groupon was seeking to settle more than a dozen lawsuits over the terms of its daily deals -- and that perhaps the key motivator in settling was so Groupon could avoid having to refund the claimants and merchants.

So, which is it, Groupon: Can we get refunds or not? Or do we need to be part of a special club that lets us change our minds about our purchases? Most stores don't require their customers to pay an additional fee just to be able to exchange or return their purchases. In your case, all they're buying is the right to print out a slip of paper. How is that worth $30?

To be fair, the program is still, according to Groupon spokeswoman Julie Mossler, being "quietly test[ed] in a handful of markets." So this isn't necessarily how it'll pan out when and if it gets rolled out across the Groupon globe… but still, Groupon is sending mixed messages that don't add up at all. That much is plain to see. 

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.

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