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Website of the Day: Discount Voucher Letter-Writing Tool

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Via Ryan Sutton's The Bad Deal, here's the website Discount Voucher Letter-Writing Tool that uses a series of web forms to generate complaint letters to daily deal sites like Groupon or LivingSocial. Put together by Ben Edelman, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, and a student at MIT, they write, "Our goal is to share the relevant information to help consumers get the benefits of applicable legal protections." They continue:

As consumers buy discount vouchers -- from Groupon, Living Social, and dozens more -- disputes are mounting. There are myriad opportunities for tension or miscommunication when a voucher service stands between consumer and merchant. Prepayment increases these problems: If a consumer ends up dissatisfied with a merchant, the consumer cannot withhold payment since the consumer has paid in advance.

The letters this tool generates are pretty hardcore, citing state laws in a way that might appear very intimidating to the daily deal site and/or vendor. Here's an example of a letter regarding an expired coupon in New York State:

I have a concern about the expiration date on my voucher. I tried to use the voucher after the listed expiration date, and the merchant refused to accept it at all. Under Illinois law, your voucher is a gift certificate. (Specifically, the law states: 815 505/2SS(a): "'Gift certificate' means a record evidencing a promise, made for consideration, by the seller or issuer of the record that goods or services will be provided to the holder of the record for the value shown in the record and includes, but is not limited to, [a] stored-value card or certificate..." (http://1.usa.gov/iIkNK5 ILCS 815 §505/2SS(a)).) According to Illinois law, a gift certificate may not expire for at least five years (ILCS 815 §505/2SS(b)). In particular, see Illinois 815 505/2SS(b): "On or after January 1, 2008, no person shall sell a gift certificate that is subject to: (1) an expiration date earlier than 5 years after the date of issuance..." (http://1.usa.gov/iIkNK5 ILCS 815 §505/2SS(b)). I tried to use the voucher within five years of issuance. Thus, the expiration date is not permissible.

As Sutton said, "We'll call this one a GOOD DEAL."

· Discount Voucher Problems ? Letter-Writing Tool [Official Site via The Bad Deal]
· All Websites of the Day Coverage on Eater [-E-]

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