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Groupon Trouble: Local Business No Longer Honoring Deals

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- For Sherree Goldstein's Square Cafe, signing onto Groupon was a no-brainer.

"They had 30,000 people signed up, so we went with it," said Goldstein. "We sold a couple thousand Groupons, and it was amazing. We had no idea."

Groupon sets the dates and oversees the fine print. Customers buy half-price certificates online, and businesses collect half of that after Groupon takes about a 50 percent commission.

"The reason to do Groupon was the remodel... I've been here 10 years, and give a jump start with the newly-created Market Square," said Tommy Balestreire, of Fat Tommy's.

So, Balestreire signed on his newly-remodeled Fat Tommy's Pizzeria.

However, from day one, he claims "they ran the ad and didn't ask how many I wanted to sell, how I wanted to use it. They got away with a generic template with what people in the pizzeria business normally do."

He claims Groupon told him the day before the ad ran it had to change the offer to eliminate alcohol sales - that's because the Liquor Control Board ruled that beer and liquor could not be sold at a discount.

But the straw that broke the camel's back had nothing to do with Groupon itself.

"Individuals, as Groupon says 'your future patrons,' were coming in and would photocopy the Groupon, so I stopped after five of them," said Balestreire. "They were taking advantage of it."

Groupon does give businesses a smartphone app to scan those, but Balestreire says it took too long at times. KDKA's Jim Lokay tried to get a response from Groupon to no avail.

Balestreire says there's still about 100 Groupons left unclaimed before they expire in October. So, his response to anyone who bought a Groupon is to go back to the source.

"Contact Groupon. You bought it through them," he said. "You shouldn't have any problem getting your money back."

While the site does offer a money back guarantee and honors refunds - at the Square Cafe, you won't have to worry there - Groupon is a keeper.

"That's the drive, new business," Goldstein says. "But we have such a loyal customer base that I think it's great to offer them a little bit of a discount once in a while."

Fat Tommy's Pizzeria
Square Cafe
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