An online coupon service is giving out discount coupons without the permission of the venues they are discounting, a local restaurant owner is alleging.
Customers can purchase the coupons from Mobile Spinach, but unlike Groupon, restaurants are not approached about the deal until a coupon quota is met, Saad Jallad, the owner of Crepeaway, said.
“The website put us on there without talking to us,” Jallad said.
The first time the store had heard of the deal, Jallad said, was when several would-be customers tried to use coupons from the site last week. After turning them down, he contacted Mobile Spinach headquarters and had his store removed from the website.
He explained the site’s “false advertising” damaged the store’s relationships with customers.
“It upsets customers and they don’t purchase anything,” Jallad said.
Jallad said Mobile Spinach advertised deals on the social-networking site Foursquare, which may have given the site “some sort of credibility.”
Local restaurants like Panda Cafe and Domino's Pizza, which are also listed on Mobile Spinach, said they were not approached by the website for permission to be listed.
Co-founder of the California-based company, Antonio Vitti, maintained that all deals are “valid and legitimate,” and the company is “always ready to refund the deal” when the amount of coupons set by Mobile Spinach are not sold.
He said there has been some confusion because customers don’t always realize the deals can only be redeemed through online purchases. Customers attempted to use the Crepeaway coupons before the quota was reached, which is why Crepeaway did not know about the deal, Vitti said.
“We are trying to work hard that people are aware on how to do deals,” Vitti said. “People don’t read directions.”