“Daily Deal” Promoter’s Disappearance Means Trouble for Local Small Business, Coupon Holders

July 31, 2013
Columbus, OH -July 31, 2013 - Giviton, an Internet-based business coupon promoter, apparently has shut down, leaving several companies unpaid and customers holding potentially worthless coupons, BBB warns.

As of July 24, 2013 Giviton’s website was shut down, their phone numbers do not allow for messages and emails to the company have gone unanswered. The business no longer operates at Jeanne Ct., in Lewis Center, OH. BBB has sent emails to the company asking them to explain their operating status but has not received a response.

Shortly before its website was shut down, Giviton described their offer: “Buy a deal that’s worth $20 but pay $10. Get a digital code or printed coupon to redeem when you want. You send the same deal coupon to two friends who don’t pay until they use it. You give at least 10% of each deal to the charity of your choice. If more people buy (encourage those friends!), we’ll give up to 15% to that charity! Every deal bought, given, shared and redeemed earns you points.”

Joan Coughlin, Vice President of BBB serving central Ohio said, “This should sound a warning to companies looking to market their products or services to new customers.” “The potential of discount couponing is certainly there, but there is a risk too,” she said. “For businesses and consumers, the message is the same: Go in with your eyes wide open.” “What makes this “particularly egregious is that coupon buyers thought part of their money was going to charity.”

A Powell coupon holder explained, “I tried to use our Giviton at a restaurant last night and they said they were no longer taking Giviton’s and advised us to contact Giviton.

A Gahanna Ohio resident reported a loss of $200. “I purchased a deal through Giviton for a $200 voucher on a moving company. They never showed up. I had to hire a different mover, and never got a refund from Giviton.“

A Westerville business reported, “I called multiple times then they paid us half of what they were to pay, and we are still waiting payment for the second half.”

BBB urges businesses and consumers to be careful when dealing with companies selling discounted coupons to the public. Such companies sell vouchers for everything from lawn care to housekeeping services at deeply reduced prices. Companies that market the coupons usually keep a percentage of the money and turn the rest over to the businesses.

The BBB suggests that consumers exercise caution when considering purchasing discount coupons through third-party marketers. Look closely at the history of both the coupon sellers and the small businesses that will be redeeming the coupons. It is often best to buy only those items or services you truly need or want. Check for a BBB Business Review by going to www.bbb.org or by calling 614-486-6336.
BBB recommends consumers who purchased coupons and paid with their credit card may wish to file a dispute with their credit card company if the coupons have not been honored.

The BBB also offers the following advice to businesses considering contracting with a discount coupon marketer:

• Does it make good business sense? Can you still make a profit from the discounted coupons or will any losses be offset by attracting new customers?
• Make sure you have a written, signed contract agreeing to all terms of the arrangement and make sure you have read it carefully.
• What are the payment arrangements? Will you be paid as soon as the marketer is paid, or are you asked to wait for two weeks, 30 days or longer for your money?
• Stipulate in the contract the maximum number of coupons you will honor, so that the deal will not be oversold.
• Check for a BBB Business Review by going to www.bbb.org or by calling 614-486-6336.

Contacts: Joan Coughlin, Vice President of Public Relations, 614-754-4561, jcoughlin@columbus-ohbbb.org