Can you help us find a Groupola customer?
It's fair to say that Groupola aren't the biggest fans of Bitterwallet right now. Last week we exposed staff members at Markco Media, owners of Groupola, posing as customers on Facebook, to deflect criticism of Groupola's recent £99 iPhone 4 deal.
We've since received emails from individuals claiming to be close to the inner workings of Groupola, and while their claims make for eye-widening reading, we're not ready to publish them just yet. For now, we've taken another look at Facebook page, and their PR.
The Facebook comments have been heavily edited since they were published. Not everything has been deleted, however; reviews posted before the iPhone 4 deal are still intact. The following extracts are taken from customer reviews posted consecutively within a couple of days of one another - all rate Groupola five stars. Of 38 reviews posted over a two month period, almost a third of them all read along these lines:
"...it was so easy to buy the offers - everything is explained and the website is really well designed."
"The site is easy to use and frequently updated with a good variety of deals, and the customer service is fast & friendly..."
"I love how these deals are available all over the country and in different cities... The website is easy to use too. The sweepstakes and competitions and referral incentives are also fantasitc..."
"...the site's so easy to navigate, and the way you can select your city makes everything all the more clear..."
"The site itself is pretty amazing, and am loving the competitions on the facebook page :D And it's pretty awesome that it's nationwide.."
"The website is extremely easy to use and with the deals changing each day I can’t think of a better website that can save you some money... the website is not only good for organising general days out but also to organise gifts for other people!"
Catherine Ellen Thompson
"...Really easy-to-use site and it's also really easy to buy gifts for friends..."
"...Not only is it simple and easy to understand but they have a number of activites that appeal to everyone..."
Incredible as it may seem, a dozen Facebook users, mostly students, spontaneously decided to post reviews of the same company at the same time and say the same thing. Read them for yourself - it's the Facebook equivalent of the Stepford Wives.
As far as the iPhone 4 deal goes, Groupola stated in their press release that 200 phones were sold at the time, despite numerous screenshots that suggest all sorts of other numbers. We've found the names of just four individuals who claim to have bought one of the handsets; three of these were on Facebook (the Groupola page has nearly 3,000 supporters) and the other on Real Business, who interviewed the lucky buyer. That interview was set up by PR company 10 Yetis, who offered interviewees to the media in response to accusations on Facebook and elsewhere. So we asked 10 Yetis for the information; they refused to deal with us, or comment further on the matter.
There appears to be a suggestion by the PR company that we're pursuing this because of our association with Hot UK Deals. But The Register isn't a competitor; neither are eConsultancy or Real Business or any of the other blogs that have criticised Groupola's dealings in the past fortnight. It's an interesting story, and at a time when consumer-targeted discount sites are becoming increasingly prevalent, it's an important one.
In the meantime, did you buy an £99 iPhone 4 from Groupola? We're keen to hear from anyone lucky enough to secure the handset during the promotion, because our list of just four names looks a little short. Get in touch with us at [email protected]