The $99 voucher Gabi Tanis bought through LivingSocial for power washing is worthless. Making matters worse, the company won’t refund her money. What now?
Question: I never thought I’d be writing one of these emails asking you to act as my advocate, but here I am.
I’m a member of LivingSocial and have been a happy customer for a while. On Aug. 1, I purchased a $99 voucher — a $180 promotional value — for power washing from a New Jersey-based company called “Ashley’s Home Care” for power washing of our house.
The voucher said you had to call the company to make an appointment. I phoned the company the same day and made an appointment for Friday, August 30th.
Since the appointment was made over the phone, I didn’t receive confirmation of my appointment in writing, but suffice it to say that all the details were confirmed, including address and arrival time of the crew.
Aug. 30th came, but the crew never did. I called the company several times, but was never able to get a live person on the phone. I left a message, too, inquiring whether I should still expect someone to arrive later in the day, but again, no response and no returned call.
As the day went on, I got more and more suspicious and started to search the Internet for clues about the company maybe being not as customer-focused as I thought. Initially, I found nothing. Then I went to the website for the Better Business Bureau of New Jersey and found a notice from the Better Business Bureau that Ashley’s was believed to be out of business.
Needless to say, I was quite concerned as a result, so I called LivingSocial to alert them and was promised they would look into the case. LivingSocial suggested I try to contact Ashley’s again, and I tried multiple times. Its online reservation system did not offer any open spots until January of next year (and surprise — the voucher expires in December!).
To this day, I have not been able to make contact with Ashley’s Home Care to schedule the power washing. LivingSocial won’t give me my money back, saying I could only request a refund within seven days of my purchase, which in this case was long before I even knew there would be an issue. Can you help? — Gabi Tanis, Philadelphia
Answer: Ashley’s should have responded to your repeated calls, and once you showed LivingSocial the BBB notice, it should have promptly refunded your voucher.
LivingSocial’s terms and conditions are pretty clear. “LivingSocial will always honor your request for a refund of the Paid Portion of any unredeemed Voucher if the Merchant goes out of business before the promotional period expires,” it says.
But is Ashley’s out of business, or just refusing to accept your calls? By your account, it’s just busy through the period of your voucher. I’d say that makes your LivingSocial voucher pretty much unredeemable.
I believe LivingSocial should ensure that the companies it works with can actually provide the service they’re offering. Otherwise, what good would the site be? I just can’t imagine it not honoring your request for a refund.
Remember, the customer service department is only your first step toward resolving your complaint. Why not appeal your case to someone higher up the food chain? You can find the right names on its website. Email addresses at LivingSocial are firstname.lastname@example.org.
I contacted LivingSocial on your behalf. A representative contacted you and apologized for the “unfavorable experience” you had while trying to redeem your voucher. It refunded your credit card $99 and added 15 “Deal Bucks” into your account.