Just Sayin'
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Just Sayin’ – Have You Had a Bad Experience with a Service bought through Groupon?

Beware Prices that Look too Good


Just Sayin'

Today’s episode of Just Sayin’ is a little different in that I’m going to share my recent experience using a Groupon certificate.


A few weeks ago it was my birthday and my lovely cousin/friend Cousin D, suggested we were both long overdue to have a massage. We had talked about going to a ‘real’ spa for a treat but time and money factored in and when I suggested to D that we should look on Groupon for discounts to spas and found a few, she offered to pay for mine as a birthday gift and we’d go together. The one we chose was not far from where we live and we got to choose which type of massage we wanted for 45 minutes plus an additional 30 minute foot massage. Sounded heavenly, but was more hellish.


I did what I thought was my due diligence in reading the many reviews saying how wonderful their experiences were at the massage salon and the photos seemed like it was indeed a nice spa-like atmosphere. Its location and address is in a busy, thriving neighborhood, and the half price deal through Groupon was tempting at $60 a person, so D purchased the certificates.


D asked me to call and book our massages. The Asian girl who answered the phone had a difficult time understanding me. I was asking to book on the coming Saturday and she managed to tell me that I could come at 10am or 5pm. As those weren’t my ideal times to go, I proceeded to ask her about the following Saturday (almost 2 weeks in advance) and she gave me the same time availabilities. By then I caught the drift. I asked her if by any chance if those were the only available times on Saturdays for Groupon certificate holders, and she chuckled and said yes. After asking her why she didn’t just tell me that from the beginning and having to explain what I had just said 3 times I went onto the next topic of asking if they are registered massage therapists and could get a receipt back to claim back from insurance. she said yes. Then I proceeded to try and book. I didn’t have the voucher numbers, D did, so after 20 wasted minutes on the phone I couldn’t book. So D called them back with the numbers.


This past Saturday, D and I went for our massages. We were given the address which was located on a busy street in a retail plaza but when we got there, found the place was around the back of the building with no signage in front. I was already leery,


We walked into the small salon  and had to fill out a lame form. I’m saying lame because I’ve had hundreds of professional massages through the years from a woman whose house I used to go privately to spas through my travels and no matter where I’ve gone, the first visit they normally have me fill out a form asking about health questions, issues why I am having the massage, any medications I’m on, a few more usual things and then sign a disclaimer. This form basically asked for name, address, phone number, email, date of birth, and occupation. I didn’t bother filling in the last two. And found out there was not going to be any type of receipt that could be used to claim back from insurance.


The older Asian woman at the desk in the tiny reception area proceeded to ask us what type of massage we wanted, offering a variety of choices from deep tissue to hot stone and about 5 more in between. The place was deserted so I asked her which masseuse specialist is on duty for that time and what does she specialize in. She responded by telling me her masseuses do every kind of massage. I smelled a rat. I’ve been at enough spas to know that when there are several types of massage offered there are several masseuses because they all specialize in one or two types of massage. I normally love a hot stone massage, but have had a few crappy ones in my lifetime and really needed my neck and shoulder worked on with deep massage so I opted for that.


The reception lady asked us if we wanted to go separately in rooms or have a couple’s room, which we opted for to enjoy together.  After we were instructed to get undressed down to our underwear and hop on to the tables, within a few minutes 2 young Asian girls came in. I was to have the deep tissue massage and D was have Shiatzu, only the 2 girls seemed confused as to who was having what and stood there for about 5 minutes chatting in their language before they each chose one of us to work on.


The massage part before the foot massage was to be 45 minutes. About 15 minutes into what was supposed to be my massage she was still warming up my body with the blanket on, rubbing my back in one spot as mother would rub a child’s back. I began getting tenser by the moment with displeasure. I finally lifted my head and asked her when she was going to start the massage and was she going to take off the blanket and use some oil. She chuckled that innocent little girl ‘oh yes’ chuckle and began rubbing my back in the same spot and method she had done with the blanket. Again I lifted my head, trying my best to not scream and with disciplined and forced patience I reminded her I came for a deep massage not a pat on the back. She began jabbing her elbows into my spine, certainly not a spot that felt good and didn’t bother to move her hands around to feel where the tight spots were. After several loud bursts of ‘ouch’ from me from her continuous elbowing my spine I snapped.


I wrapped the blanket around myself and sat up and pointedly told her that she doesn’t know what she’s doing. My cousin knew my patience had worn thin and I didn’t hear her moaning of any pleasure herself without having to tell her girl where to massage and repeated requests of asking for some pressure, but at least she was having some sort of massage.


Cousin D’s masseuse began speaking in her language to mine and my girl walked out. For another 5 minutes I just sat there and told D this was ridiculous and I’m getting dressed and waiting in the car. In that moment, an Asian MAN walks in our room, introduces himself as the manager and asks me what the problem is. I recapped the experience to him but I couldn’t make out much of what he said other than he’ll send in another girl and add back 15 minutes of time. By that time, the FULL BODY massage I’d paid for 45 minutes was well into half hour passed and the first girl had barely massaged only 1/4 of my lower back, hadn’t even touched shoulders or neck. The new young girl proceeded to start over with the ‘warm up’ and I told her to get moving with the real massage. By that time I was so tense from frustration and wanting to slap them all in the head that it would have taken a good masseuse to make me unwind. But no such luck.


I told her to work on my neck and shoulders, but she never once addressed any of the knotted tension spots on my upper back and never touched my neck where my tension is always held and was ready to combust. She then moved down to my calves, not massaging them but merely making a semi circle with 2 fingers on each hand and running her hand up and down my calves for about 30 seconds. And then she proceeded to attempt to give me a foot massage. She bent back my toes then pulled each one in succession and began Karate chopping my calves for another few seconds then asked me to turn over so she could do my arms (after reminding her she hadn’t yet touched them).


During this time my cousin’s massage was still ongoing and I could hear her pleasureful moans as her foot rub continued for some time. When my girl barely touched my forearms and hands for a few minutes I asked her if that toe rubbing thing she did on me was my foot massage, she chuckled with her naive laugh and said yes. In that moment my cousin’s timer went off, indicating her massage had come to an end and my girl put the blanket on me and informed me I was done too.


That was it! I darted up from the table and my anger and frustration was unleashed. I asked her how could my massage be over when my cousin and I started together and I’d lost nearly half an hour of nonsense no massage and waiting for another girl, and I was to have time lost made up. And then I blasted her for rubbing and pulling my toes for 2 minutes and telling me that was a half hour foot massage. I asked her if a foot massage was supposed to feel good because I wouldn’t know it. I told her that nobody knows what they’re doing in that place and it was the worst massage I’ve ever had in my life with not one but 2 girls. I continued to mutter my frustrations under my breath as I scurried to get the hell out of that room. My cousin followed not saying a word and I had no words left to say or I was going to scream at the top of my lungs at the disgusting, unqualified service they offered.


The woman at the desk proceeded to inform us we could leave a tip. I looked at her with death eyes and said in shouting voice “Are you kidding me????” I stormed out the door shouting out loud all the way to the car how horrendous that place was.


Lessons I learned:


  • Groupon reviews I read must have been bogus
  • When calling to book an appointment somewhere and communication isn’t understood with a receptionist, it’s a big indicator of worse things to come.
  • When you’re not asked at booking time what type of massage you are booking, it’s another indicator you’ll be getting a Jill of all trades, or maybe of none.
  • All signs that lead to misunderstood conversations and disorganization are a certainty for disappointment.


I will add after relaying my ungratifying massage situation to my sister, she informed me Groupon had tried to get her business to sign up with them to bring her more business. After she investigated how beneficial it would have been for her business – giving away car cleaning services for half price and minimal cash back from Groupon she declined to be part of it claiming it was an option for them to make money, rather  than for her as she’d be giving away labor-intensive work time to hope she gets a few more customers from it.


It’s possible that some of the Groupon certificates may be worthwhile such as certificates for discounts in restaurant or entertainment but I highly recommend reading the small print for services, and I’d call the business to inquire before purchasing vouchers.. Often there are many exclusions and inclusions that must be adhered to in order to get the benefit from the coupon.

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D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction/memoir writer, who writes from her own life experiences and self-medicates with a daily dose of humor.


  • Stevie Turner

    I’ve booked a couple of things through Groupon and have never had any problems. No massages though – a car service and a trip inside the Tower of London. Both good.

  • D. Wallace Peach

    I’ve done these with my daughter and fortunately we had good experiences. It sounds like you had the complete opposite! I think the point of Group-On offerings is to entice new customers through the door and hopefully turn them into return customers. The establishment you visited didn’t seem to understand that at all. 🙁

    • dgkaye

      Lol, big time they didn’t understand. I don’t know how they even get repeat customers unless the people who go there are first timers thinking what they get constitutes a massage. 🙂

  • Kev

    Pat and I got a Groupon voucher as a Christmas gift once… dining for two. The place was nice enough, out in the sticks with lovely surroundings, and the staff were fine, but the meals and desserts left a lot to be desired. Needless to say, we will never return.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for sharing Kev. Sorry to hear that you and Pat got a lemon like I did, lol. Live and learn. PS, sorry I just saw this. I fished you out of spam! 🙁

  • John Maberry

    Never used Groupon, but your experience brings two things to mind. One, you and my wife are much alike at taking no guff from people selling you something. As a multiyear and multi bucks WDW visitor, when she didn’t get a discount she wrote to the CEO. He didn’t answer but a high-level person did. We got a gift certificate.

    Second, the parlor could have been worse–might have been a front for another kind of “massages” for the opposite sex. :-). Not to be racist about it, but they often are run by and/or feature Asians. “Just sayin.”

  • marianbeaman

    Not Groupon, but Priceline. We booked a hotel through Priceline and discovered we were not able to cancel one of the nights. Bummed about that . . . I presume we failed to read the fine print. It all worked out okay in the end.

  • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC

    Oh Debby I am so sorry to read what a horrible experience you had. And for your birthday, too! (Happy belated birthday, by the way.)

    Groupon needs to refund your money! Many other posts like yours will make it difficult for for them to sell the darned things! Word gets around. Pinned to my Blogs and Bloggers Board with “Groupon Warning” as the caption – and who knows how many will see it there and think twice!

    Perhaps where you live makes the difference? I was gifted a massage Groupon last Christmas (cashed in late Spring), and my experience was truly wonderful. As expected, the parlor tried to “up-sell” as we left – and Peggy actually signed up for a “today only” discount on a monthly series that locked in the Groupon rate and had some other freebies attached. I declined – way too far away and difficult to find for me, but they were not hard sell about it, and moved right along graciously once I declined. Truly a lovely experience.

    That was my first Groupon experience, but Peggy buys them frequently and raves about them (mostly for things). If I had your experience, however, I’d NEVER chance it again.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for the belated wishes my friend. And so glad to hear you and your friend had great experiences. I seem to fall in the low percentile of circumstances of things that happen to, lol. I didn’t mention the name of the place, perhaps I should have but if anyone wants to know, I’d tell them privately. Just thought I’d share here and let others know that not all coupons are on the up and up. And thanks for sharing! <3 xx

      • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC

        Again – so sorry your birthday massage was so lousy across the board.

        I know the feeling of not wanting to be vindictive (or something) when I’m reluctant to name names — to get specific about a person or place that provided lousy service (or downright cheated me, stole from me, etc.).

        I’m not sure what stays my hand or whether it is a good thing or a bad thing, but I know I don’t feel great when I think about “outing” them. Still, Groupon can’t check up on their “partners” if they don’t know that they are representing them badly.

        I’d love to read that you wrote a letter to Groupon and *somebody* sent your money back with an apology and a Groupon to something really great.

        Meanwhile, I appreciate knowing to be v-e-r-y careful with Groupons! Thanks – I probably won’t be using them.

  • Christy B

    This sounds horrific, Debby 🙁 I would totally post a negative review so others find out about this fraudulent business. You have every right to your money back! So frustrating! I’ve used Groupon once for buying an electronic device on a great deal (no problem with it) and once for a night out with friends at a local comedy place (no probs either). I’m sad you had a bad experience. You’re awesome to share your experiences with us to help us learn xx

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Christy. I’m glad to hear you had no issues with your coupons. I’m often a victim of circumstance when it comes to being in a small percentile, lol. But I’ve learned that sometimes reviews can’t be trusted and to check out the source directly before purchasing. 🙂 Always happy to pass on unjust situations to spare others. 🙂 <3

  • Adele Marie

    omg, Debby, this was a terrible experience for you and your cousin. What a bunch of well, I can’t say the words here but you get my meaning. for a start your form should have asked about any underlying conditions or alergys or in fact any medication you were on. How dare they practice massage that is so obviously not trained. I studied three years at college, massage, aromatherapy and reflexology and I’m spitting mad that you were treated this way. xxx

  • Jeri Walker (@JeriWB)

    Yikes! What a dreadful massage experience. I did quite a few Groupons when I lived in Charlotte, but I eventually unsubscribed from the emails when I moved back north as they tempted to buy things I really shouldn’t be buying. Impulse! One of the groupons I purchases in NC was for a winery. It was something like $10, so I snapped it up. That included a tour, tasting, and bottle of wine. Turns out, it was a misprint. It should have bee something like $35 or $40. The winery had to honor it. Another time, I bought one to Sawtooth Winery here in SW Idaho and I was disappointed because the two bottles of wine included were half-size bottles and sickly sweet ones at that.

    • dgkaye

      Aha Jeri. It seems there’s always a catch! Reading the fine print is a must! And good for you, misprints are theirs to eat! It happened to me once booking a vacation ALL INCLUSIVE with an airline. When I booked and phoned the hotel to confirm, they told me there would be a $30 nightly US ‘service charge’ added upon checkout. I wrote to the airline letting them know about their misleading advertising. After a few letters back and forth, they offered me to pay the charges and submit the receipt upon my return, which I did and they re-imbursed. I’m not sure if they didn’t like that I told them I was a writer and was going to write about it, but it worked! 🙂

  • Jacqui Murray

    Based on what you got, I think you were beyond patient. I’d add a nasty review on Yelp.

    My daughter used a Groupon coupon for a trip to Ireland. I expected the worst, but it all worked out nicely. I bet she dodged a bullet!

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for the idea Jacqui. I spent lots of time searching where I could add my review and two cents on Groupon and couldn’t find a place to review. Yelp will do nicely. 🙂

  • Sue Dreamwalker

    So so sorry you have had this experience Debby.. not nice, when especially you are looking forward to it.. Having qualified myself in night college as company for my daughter we passed our Massage Therapist diploma .. When I was 40.. Now forgotten more than I know lol
    And although i did nothing with my qualification, I found it very useful as it taught me so many things about the anatomy and skeletal, muscular etc .. Never thought I would retain the knowledge of passing my written exams.. But I passed. 🙂

    And you are so right. At first consultation a form with many questions must be filled out.. That was the first warning after your confusing phone call to make your appointment..
    It really gives a bad name to those who take the time to qualify properly ..
    So yes, lesson learned..

    Hope your next massage makes up for it..
    Love and Hugs
    Sue xxx

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Sue. And why am I not surprised you know massage therapy? Lol. Even I know what’s involved and all the parts involved because after having so many and asking questions I could probably do better myself! 🙂 Love and hugs back my friend! xoxo <3

  • Terri Webster Schrandt

    How God-awful. I have only had a couple of massages in my life, and they were not fabulous. We have a chain here that is OK, but I only go if I get a free coupon from my kids. Sorry to say that many of these places where owners and staff have limited English skills are probably breaking all kinds of laws and rules. My 6’4″ brother needs a man to give him deep-tissue massages, he always checks before. A small, diminutive woman with no skills just can’t do it properly! I hope you “yelped” this company with a one-star review!

  • L. T. Garvin, Author

    I have never tried Groupon, Debby. I may not now. Wow, I am so sorry that happened to you. What a disappointment. I have had a few massages in my time that were great, so I know that you were probably really looking forward to it. Also, happy belated birthday to you!

    • dgkaye

      Thank you for the well wishes Lana. And the trick is to do your homework. Not be asked to fill out a form with health issues should be a huge flag! 🙂 x

  • robbiesinspiration

    What an unlucky experience, Debby. I must say that I have awful on-going back and neck pain from the nature and stress of my job. I prefer to go to a trained physiotherapist as I derive much more benefit from that than a massage. I have only had a couple of massages but have never found they helped me much. I hope the rest of your birthday was good.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for the well wishes Robbie. I’ve had neck shoulder for years from various jobs, but especially now from sitting at a computer for hours and hours daily. I used to go to physio years ago but traded up for an Osteopath and a good, depp massage gets all the kinks out . . . If it’s good that is! 🙂 x

  • Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.

    Sorry you had such a bad experience Debby and there is nothing worse than a therapist who does not know what she is doing.. It does sound a little bit suspect and certainly they don’t even sound trained.. I certainly would not be paying full price for it let alone the Groupon rate.. Still it has provided us with an entertaining story and a commitment not to mess with DEBBY. ♥♥

  • Marje @ Kyrosmagica

    That is appalling Debby. I worked for a while as an aromatherapist (many years ago now, when the children were young.) I trained in aromatherapy, massage techniques, and reflexology, so I know what constitutes a good massage. Truly shocking. Sorry you had such a bad experience.

  • Sherri Matthews

    Arrrrgh Deb…what an utter nightmare. I could feel your anger unleashing with every second that ticked by. You went in for relaxation and came out more stressed than ever! I had one bad experience with Groupon and a ‘facial’ and never used it again. I agree, it’s okay for the odd meal out to save money, and used it a couple of times for an overnighter deal at a hotel with dinner, but it’s always the cheapest, no frills option offered I’ve discovered and don’t bother at all now. The ‘facial’ never actually happened. Same thing with the appointment problem, it was miles away, told it was only 30 minutes – when I want a facial I want the full works for a good hour, including head, shoulder and arm massage! – and in the end my voucher expired. I am so sorry you had to go through all that, I don’t know how places like that get away with it. Clearly that girl did not have a clue what she was doing…nor the other one. Very suspect the whole thing. I would have reacted just like you…in fact, I’m steaming on your behalf just reading about it! I hope you got/get another proper massage to make up for this farce my friend… <3 <3 <3

    • dgkaye

      Holy Moly Sher. Leave it to you and me to both have those crap experiences. You’re so funny though, you made me laugh when you said you’re steaming on my behalf, lol you’re so cute <3 Sure, I like to spend, but who doesn't like to save money? But when it comes to cutting corners on what I'm paying for in service, I've learned too, it's not worth it. Thanks for sharing as always Sher. Hugs xoxo <3 <3

  • Marianne

    Sounds awful, Deb! And it makes me wonder why the girls couldn’t even fake a massage. I’m not a professional massage therapist, but I could give a very good, relaxing massage. Hmmm…does sound a bit fishy, but I won’t mention why. You may have a better experience with massage therapist interns. I recently got one from a co-worker who is interning her 120 hours to gain her certificate. She did it at the school. It wasn’t as expensive and I was so relaxed afterward, I was glad she was driving 😉 I hope your next experience is doubly enjoyable to make up for this one.

    Marianne xox

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Marianne. You’re so right. There are plenty of therapists in training at the college. That’s where I’m heading next time for new professionals with a still low price tag. 🙂 <3

  • Liesbet

    What a horrible experience, Debby. I can feel your frustration and disappointment! I’m feeling a bit tense after reading this myself. I have only used Groupon once for a whale watch tour in Southern California. It was a disappointing experience as well, but not different than the full-paying customers, so probably not related to Groupon, but to the pathetic service this company offered…

    • dgkaye

      Arg, thanks for sharing Liesbet. It’s amazing the stories I hear since I’ve posted this. A few had good experiences, but for many it seems to be – you get what you pay for. 🙂

  • Hugh's Views and News

    I’ve never used Groupon, Debby. After reading your experience, I don’t think I’ll ever be using them. I hope you left a review? However, saying that, I’ve had companies who have refused to publish my review because it was not what they wanted to hear. That’s something else I’d recommend everyone be aware about. Needless to say, I don’t shop at the store who refused to publish my review of the poor service I got.

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