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Suit: Groupon Issues Deals With Illegal Expiration Dates

CHICAGO (STMW) - A potential class action lawsuit was filed in federal court Tuesday against Chicago-based Groupon, claiming the discounted gift certificate website issues coupons with illegal expiration dates.

Eli R. Johnson claims he purchased a gift certificate to WhirlyBall through Groupon with an illegally deceptive expiration date on Aug. 15, 2010, according to a suit filed in U.S. District Court. The certificate was good for 30 minutes of play for up to 10 people for $55.

The suit claims Groupon offers "Daily Deals" coupons through its website that do not become valid until a certain number of consumers accept the offer. The coupons are purchased through Groupon and offer a significant discount off a given retailer's regular price for an item or service.

Groupon and the retail partners state the gift certificates expire within months. The suit claims the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act prohibits the sale of gift certificates with expiration dates of less than five years.

The suit claims the WhirlyBall gift certificate had an expiration date of Feb. 16 and did not list an issuance date.

Consumers must act quickly to purchase the gift certificates, usually within 24 hours, and are "rushed into buying the gift certificates and unwittingly become subject to the onerous sales conditions imposed," the suit said.

The suit claims Groupon and its retail partners "rely and prey on the fact that consumers will often not manage to redeem gift certificates before the limited expiration period" and customers are left with expired gift certificates that cannot be refunded.

Groupon spokeswoman Julie Mossler said the company does not comment on pending legal action.

The six-count suit is seeking a judge certify the complaint as a class action suit and award compensatory and punitive damages plus legal fees. It is also seeking an order preventing Groupon from selling allegedly illegal gift certificates.

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2011. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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