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The Butchers on Yonge Street: Group-Buying Blowback

March 23rd, 2011
14 Comments


During Yipit’s presentation on Group Buying Data at ILMEast this morning James Moran mentioned that a deal from DealFind for The Butchers on Yonge Street in Toronto could have been one of the most successful daily deal offers yet.  The Canadian company offered 69% off meat orders and sold over 11,000 orders which generated over $600,000 in revenue.  That sounded pretty good to me until I stumbled across this thread of angry customers on RedFlagDeals (YPG’s deal site).

Some excerpts:

I don’t care what makes sense to you. What makes sense is that are deceiving and misleading people. I was re-assured that the problem was resolved by dealfind so that is why I went in again. Don’t blame me for exercising my consumer rights. I have requested and received a full refund from Dealfind. *There will be articles in the media about this thanks to me. These coupon sites are doing a disservice to people and praying on our desires to get good deals during these economic times.

The Butchers are doing something dodgy and shady here. We might not have proof, but by offering so many deals on so many sites and by being deceptive on their prices and what people can use the coupon for translates to disgusting. *They will hopefully learn their lesson. It might end up costing people their jobs though and that is sad.

FYI you better check your emailed order cos they substituted strip loin for my ordered ribeye and DIDNT EVEN TELL ME!!!! plus ZERO marbling, which shouldn’t really be graded AA or higher which is what they are purportedly selling.

and this gem:

yeah wow i just got off the phone with them. i talked to a very angry man. i had some concerns about my order (which took 2 weeks from the order date to come through, and then they forgot to give the delivery instructions to the driver so my order almost wasn’t delivered) and the man didn’t want to listen to anything i said, and spoke very angrily to me, not listening to anything i had to say and interrupting me when i tried to explain. he told me that i should be happy and and appreciative of such a good deal and blamed selling so many coupons for their problems.

i told him he seemed very angry and frustrated and before I could get another word in, he started lecturing me about what he THOUGHT i was complaining about (which was totally incorrect – perhaps if he had listened he wouldn’tve been so angry!) and I tried to explain again, at which point he told me the lady answering the emails was in a coma and had cancer, yet was still answering the emails (?!?!)

I told him I did not like how I was being treated and could I get a refund? He said yes and then as I was asking how, he hung up on me! So I called back again, he picked up laughing and I asked him how to get a refund and he said “take it up with the coupon people” and told me he would not serve a customer like me.

all i can say is wow. i thought the purpose of those deals was to get new customers. cuz i will never ever go back there.

and that was just from one page on a thread of eight pages.  I have no idea if these comments are valid, but unfortunately that’s besides the point – they are public.  As I have mentioned before, I think there is a big opportunity for companies to help merchants navigate and manage their daily deal programs.  The Butchers on Young may be an awesome butcher, but as a result of this promotion, some people don’t seem to agree with that assessment.


Tags: Daily Deals · Online Reviews · Reputation Management

14 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dessie

    Is this a one off or the beginning of a backlash against the deal a day market?

    I have been picking up on a lot of unhappy business and consumer stories of late.

    Would this tie in with Groupons drop in revenue?

  • 2 Andrew Shotland

    I am not sure there is a growing backlash against the deal a day market. In general it seems like businesses are finding it a valuable marketing channel. That said, there are always going to be cases like these where consumers and merchants have bad experiences – it’s the nature of the beast.

  • 3 Dessie

    I feel the important thing for business owners is to carefully manage the group buying process. In the words of UB40 ‘only fools rush in’.

    I recently spoke with a prominent Irish restaurateur. They had run a deal a day promotion and sold almost 3,000 vouchers. Unfortunately he realized afterwords that most of the sales had been to existing customers who bought 15-20 vouchers a go at a 70% reduction. A costly exercise in discounting.

    When running group deals. I feel business owners seem to forget about the bigger picture. New customers, building a relationship to get repeat business, considering existing and loyal customers etc. Maybe quick cash blinds people.

    This lack of education on behalf of business owners, more then anything seems to be causing friction. So we are noting on this side of ‘the pond’. Maybe its different in the US?

  • 4 Lee

    Based on the angry customer reviews posted here, it sounds like the problem has more to do with a shady business that provides poor service than with the deal that was being offered.

    If the reviews are to be trusted, I’m not sure paying full price would rectify the issues…

  • 5 kate raynes-goldie

    thanks for covering this! i was one of the angry customers you quoted:D

    i just finished an in depth post with a bit more of the backstory

    http://www.k4t3.org/2011/04/02/the-dark-side-of-online-group-coupons/

  • 6 Andrew Shotland

    Interesting angle on the whole fund-raising thing Kate. If that’s actually the case that would not be good for the industry or for the Butchers.

  • 7 kfir azran

    bad service exists out there regardless of the deal a day sites. i think that those sites should form some kind of quality assurance criteria and monitor the percentage of complains relative to the number of coupons purchased. noy doing that will eventually turn the users away….(my opinion of course)

  • 8 sara

    This is not part of a few isolated instances, by far not. I have come across posts where business owners claim their business went under, or almost went under because of their Groupon deal… (and that is besides many disgruntled deal buyers.)

    Start by searching for “Posies Cafe” and their Groupon flop…

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a big believer in the Group Deal concept. I just think the business owners are not being prepared properly for it… as well, the “pitch” should rather be that this is a “marketing tool” (NOT a quick-cash generating tool!), and like other commenters pointed out – it needs to be part of a holistic marketing plan… this way there will be a lot less disappointments both for business owners AND their customers…

  • 9 Sunshine

    I TOO am one of the “Butcher” coupon holders and while I have not “yet” met with any rudeness I have been met with extrodinarilly poor customer service/relations and in fact sit here typing this while waiting for an order that has taken two weeks as well as being postponed for a day AND is now LATE!. It’s extraordinarily frustrating. I have gotten the same excuses I have read here and other places, too many coupons, adding freezers, adding staff, overwhelmed, biggest coupon sale in history of teh world…so what. Just give me my meat.

  • 10 JanieB

    The Butchers was my first experience with a “Deal” – I found them to be excellent – Absolutely top quality and very friendly service. Wish there were more “Deals” like this one! Nothing negative about them from my point of view.

  • 11 Lucy

    These guys ran back-to-back deals, each underselling the last, on nearly all of the deal sites. That’s slimy already, but then they inflated their prices by up to 30%, restricted the voucher customers to only come in Tuesday-Friday (when they’re usually sold out of product by noon) and are SO RUDE to anyone who comes in. It’s across the street from my house, so I usually pop in to see what’s there. In the past few months, every time I come in there are a few separate people arguing with the staff over ridiculous voucher rules and restrictions that no one knows about and that aren’t printed on the voucher, but apparently are online (I checked – that’s not 100% accurate). The other day I walked by at 12:15pm and there were a few people standing outside – the staff was inside cleaning and the doors were locked. The people outside knocked on the door (they didn’t know they closed at noon for an hour to clean – as it wasn’t posted anywhere) and instead of explain, the staff totally ignored them. I thought it was weird (and terrible) at the time, but I didn’t experience the awfulness of this business until today.
    I came in, and as I had already used my voucher, I had a receipt with my balance on it, which they do accept on weekends. There was about 300% more selection than there is on weekdays for the voucher customers, and I chose a few things. When I went to pay, I was told a new policy said I couldn’t use the receipt. At this point, a couple over heard and cut in to our conversation.
    “But we came yesterday with our voucher and you told us to come back today. We drove a long way,” they said to the staff member. “Well it changed since I left last night,” he replied. AND WALKED AWAY.
    At this point I started asking to talk to the owner, who over heard and made himself busy chatting up a few guys who were already on their way out. When it was obvious I was waiting, he snapped.
    “This is exactly why we don’t take vouchers on weekends. I’m busy,” he said to me angrily, without hearing a word I had to say.

  • 12 Andrew Shotland

    Thanks for sharing this Lucy. The Butchers’ case seems to be an example of the dark side of group buying deals.

  • 13 Ksenia

    I do NOT recommend to have any business with “The Butchers”.

    Today I have visited the store and couldn’t use my voucher. There is misleading advertisement and information in the voucher which I bought, such as: “Valid Tuesday to Friday from 8am to 8pm; may redeem 1 voucher per visit”

    I have NEVER, EVER, EVER … met extremely rude people (store manager, owner) wchich I’ve met in this store today. And I was’t alone who had the same problems.

    It’s better to choose the right clients for your business!!!

  • 14 kate raynes-goldie

    the deal that broke north american records is now officially a scam: the butchers have closed their doors indefinitely, for “renovations”

    http://www.thebutchersorganic.com/

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