Group discount websites warned over rise in complaints

The group responsible for advertising standards in the UK says it is concerned about a rise in complaints about deals on group discount websites.

New figures show four of the UK's biggest sites have been reported to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) since 2011.

The sites are Groupon, LivingSocial, kgbdeals and Wowcher.

From January to September 2011 there were 244 complaints compared to 391 during the same time this year.

Some of the most common complaints have been about exaggerated promotions and unclear terms and conditions.

Matt Wilson from the ASA says group discount websites need to take notice.

"If there's a continual breach of our rules, these sites could face further action," he said. "They may even face fines."

'Stress'

Yanxia Han, 27 and from south London, bought two laptops from kgbdeals two months ago.

"The whole experience was a nightmare," she said. "I saw a deal for a laptop for £89 reduced from £200.

"Once I purchased the deal, I then tried to redeem the voucher online but it didn't work.

"I couldn't find any contact deals for kgb so I then got in touch with the vendor.

"He told me he wouldn't send out any laptops until he'd been paid from kgb.

"I finally got a refund but all that grief and stress was for nothing."

Kgbdeals sent Newsbeat a statement about Yanxia's purchase.

"We are disappointed the supplier couldn't supply and tried hard to find an alternative," it said.

"In the event, it was necessary to refund all our customers, which we did as quickly as possible.

"Under the circumstances we believe kgbdeals has acted promptly."

'Consumer friendly'

The other sites insist they do lots of specialist checks to make sure their deals are fair.

"We have a deal quality team that's vetting every deal," said Peter Briffett, managing director of LivingSocial Deals UK.

"Nothing goes out without the business approval or merchant services approval."

Richard Jones, director of partner management at Groupon, said: "We have various steps in the deal process to make sure that when a deal goes live, we're 100% confident it's a very good deal."

Wowcher sent Newsbeat a statement that said: "Wowcher takes any complaints made about our advertising very seriously and we strive to work closely with the ASA to ensure that our advertising is honest and consumer friendly."