Everything Else HawaiiWritten by Shara Enay On 08 December 2010

I absolutely LOVE the idea of getting offers for huge discounts to restaurants, spas and attractions e-mailed to me every day: I can pick and choose which deals I like and don’t have to do any of the actual bargain hunting. It’s genius! But I wasn’t always a fan of these social-buying websites. In fact, my first introduction to LivingSocial was a sneak attack because I never signed up to receive the daily deals. They just started sending me stuff one day, which is one of the reasons I was reluctant to participate.

After months of seeing the deals pile up in my In-box, I recently purchased my first deal from LivingSocial, which is based in Washington D.C. The deal was a 90-minute massage at Hoonani Salon & Day Spa for $47, which is valued at $95. It also said if I got three friends to purchase the deal, mine would be free. Better yet, I thought.

So, after I purchased my massage, I forwarded the offer to three friends and got them to purchase the deal using my unique link, which was provided by LivingSocial. I assumed I would get an e-mail within the next day or two saying a credit had been issued for my massage. Nothing.

Three days had gone by and still no word from LivingSocial, so I e-mailed the help desk asking for my refund. I even made it easy for the staff to see who my friends were that purchased the deal by attaching all four of our massage vouchers. Immediately, I received an automated response thanking me for my inquiry.

“Please hang tight while a Customer Care Consultant researches your question/problem/comment. Someone will be in touch with you within the next two business days.

Thanks for LivingSocial!” read the response.

Great, they’re looking into it, I thought.

Two days later, still no response, so I e-mailed them again. Nothing.

LivingSocial’s website says the company prides itself on top-notch customer service.

“We’re not satisfied unless you’re jumping for joy. Call, email, tweet (or, hey, fax) us with any issue and we’ll make it right,” it says.

I finally called the 1-877 number from the website and the recording said the wait time to speak to a customer-service representative was 18 minutes so I figured I’d try back later. I called two more times and both times there was a minimum 15-minute wait time. It’s never a good sign when you’re the twelfth customer in line on a Monday morning to speak to a customer-service representative.

Finally, exactly two weeks after I purchased the deal, I called again and got a live person on the phone – this time after an eight-minute wait. The agent was very friendly, looked up my account and said only two friends used my designated link to purchase the deal. Once I told him who the third person was and said I had her voucher number for verification, he didn’t ask any other questions and said I would be credited the $47 in three to five business days.

“Why wasn’t I credited when my third friend purchased the deal?” I asked.

“Not sure. I guess it wasn’t in our system,” the man responded nonchalantly.

I guess I’ll have to wait to see if I actually get credited. But I wonder how many other people have experienced the same problem? I’m not sure they all would’ve been as persistent as me in getting credited.

The next step was to schedule my massage. I was nervous because by the time the deal closed, 1,769 90-minute massages were sold and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to schedule an appointment until 2013. After all, Hoonani is not a big facility. But, as fate would have it, I hit another roadblock. I called Hoonani three different times during its normal business hours and no one answered the phone! Who knows, maybe even the receptionist is giving massages now to accommodate the 1,769 customers who bought the deal.

I have to admit, this whole LivingSocial experience has left a bad taste in my mouth. In fact, I’m just turned off by it. That’s why I signed up for Groupon.

See also: Play@SavvyCircle offers an enticing way to reach new customers

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About Author

Shara Enay

Shara Enay is a writer for Hawaii Business magazine. She is a graduate of Kaimuki High School and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, going to the beach, traveling and watching UH sports.

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2 comments
MetroDeal
MetroDeal

Bad experience from LivingSocial! This will put them to the bad light. They should have been taking care of the customers on their transaction needs, not to treat them like trash.

careyk
careyk

Living social does treat there employees fair my sister for them she was not with the company long plus they gave her a bad retrofitting to sale in first month she made quota second month they increased her sales she barely made it she asked for territory that had not been touched they said she could get it if she made quota second month she made it but no response thrice monthshe missed quota by 10 they laid her off other sells people were stealing accounts out of her zipcode the company is ruthless and she good at what she does company is very bad.

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