HKTV's Ricky Wong is probably eying the database of Groupon Hong Kong. Photo: Facebook/ Ricky Wong
HKTV's Ricky Wong is probably eying the database of Groupon Hong Kong. Photo: Facebook/ Ricky Wong

Groupon exits Hong Kong at a discount

The cut-price burgers-to-food mixers company tooted its own horn when it landed in the city. Their scuttle through the back door has been much quieter

February 22, 2017 5:11 PM (UTC+8)

Six years, only US$671,000! That’s what Groupon Inc is walking away with after exiting its once lucrative business in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Television Network this week agreed to buy Shift Media Group, a subsidiary of Groupon Inc since June 2010 when it launched in the vibrant city of just over 7 million people.

However, the price tag, just like its online merchandise, is deeply discounted.

Netizens ridiculed Groupon’s exit price as being worth less than a tiny two-room apartment in one of Hong Kong housing estate – so much for the fate of a big-name venture famous for its daily bargain.

That was because the Groupon model seemed to be out of fashion, as seen in its financial results.

According to HKTV’s disclosure, Groupon recorded a net loss of HK$12.3 million by the end of December 2016, compared with a management account after-tax profit of HK$6.1 million in the corresponding period in 2015.

Groupon Hong Kong also had a net liability of HK$3.3 million as of the end of last year.

These were a negative surprise for the online coupon operator that is famous for selling discount vouchers for restaurants, such as half-price Triple-O hamburgers, as well as other travel or home appliance offers.

Groupon was something to look forward to back in 2010 when it first acquired a local website called uBuyiBuy and promised to launch a new e-commerce model in its more than 11,000 people in 500 markets and 46 countries.

In its company website, Groupon Hong Kong calls a pretty simple business philosophy: we treat our customers the way we like to be treated. It also said: we sell stuff we want to buy.

A great price, it stressed, is only half the battle – it’s also got to be a great product or service.

It is unfortunately where it failed – the products are not good enough, from this customer’s experience.

As a user, I was frustrated with buying the hamburger coupon with a sharp annual increment and the outlets seems to change quite constantly, partly because of their greedy landlords.

To make it worse, I found the meal set they advertised was not exactly what the restaurant offers at its regular price. In other words, the customers were provided with an inferior meal set called the Groupon.

When it came to pricing, I found Groupon are not selling cheaper than its other rivals.

Sorry Groupon HK, you will not be missed!

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