Groupon CEO Offers Apology to Japanese Customers

By Cindy Waxer January 17, 2011

Groupon’s chief executive didn’t bargain for the kind of vitriol he recently elicited overseas as the online coupon provider continues its global expansion plans. In a subtitled video message uploaded onto YouTube, CEO Andrew Mason apologized to Japanese customers for a deal involving the delivery of ‘osechi,’ a traditional New Year’s meal consisting of specialty Japanese dishes.

As reported by the Associated Press, Mason’s online address stated: "We created Groupon to help enrich people's lives by bringing new exciting experiences to them. So when we do the opposite, as we have in this case, it really hurts."

Rather than receive beautifully arranged Japanese meals, many of the customers – who paid 10,500 yen ($127) for the deal, received their meals late or in “terrible condition,” Mason admitted. The explanation: the Bird Café, responsible for issuing the meals, had been deluged with orders.

In terms of global expansion, last week, TechZone360.com reported that Groupon has started Groupons in India, Israel and South Africa after acquiring quickly growing deal sites SoSasta, Grouper and Twangoo in each of the three countries, respectively.

The terms of the acquisitions were kept confidential.

SoSasta – just three months after it was started – has daily deals in 11 cities in India. Grouper is the first and biggest deal site in Israel. It has been providing deals for the Tel Aviv region since March of last year. And Twangoo offers deals to the most cities of any deal site in nation of South Africa.

According to a press release, each of the sites will get the Groupon brand name and change to a common site design. The deals will be written in each of the nation’s primary languages: English in India and South Africa, and Hebrew in Israel.

There are great opportunities for growth in each of the three countries, said Groupon.

“Collective buying is in its infancy in India, Israel and South Africa and we see strong potential,” Rob Solomon, president and chief operating officer of Groupon, said in a company statement. “Groupon is shaping the way local merchants market themselves in every corner of the world.”




Edited by Janice McDuffee

TechZone360 Contributing Editor

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