ASA upholds complaint about GrouponTeeth-whitening advert in advertising breach

21 September 2011

Group-buying sites

The ASA has upheld a complaint about Groupon, after it couldn't verify the original value of one of its deals. 

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint about Groupon for a teeth-whitening advert on the basis that the value had been exaggerated.

Groupon complaint upheld

The complaint questioned whether the value of the treatment being advertised was really as stated, and hence whether the discount was accurate. 

When the ASA questioned group buying site Groupon to verify the price, it was given insufficient evidence and upheld the complaint under rules for misleading advertising, exaggeration and pricing.

The complaint follows our recent investigation into group-buying sites which found a range of problems, including confusing information around the value of deals.

Group-buying sites

Sites like Groupon are a growing internet phenomenon known as 'group-buying' sites, which offer incredibly cheap deals, typically for one day only and often with 'tipping points', whereby a certain number of people must purchase the deal before it is activated. 

Our investigation found that while the deals were typically the cheapest available, the size of the discount was often based around the maximum you could possibly pay, rather than a reasonable price. We also heard of problems around booking treatments, restrictions in the terms and conditions, and mixed experiences of the quality of service being offered. 

We also had particular concerns around cosmetic treatments - like teeth whitening - being offered, as the principle of discounts and time-limited deals is poorly suited to invasive treatments with risks associated. If you've bought cosmetic treatments through a group-buying site tell us how it went at

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