Is time running out for Groupon? More explosive claims of bad conditions, damaging deals and questionable standards2012-04-20 37
The fallout from “Groupongate”
Groupon’s response to Gruenderszene and Venture Village’s initial article was one of panic and threat: first, it exhorted staff not to speak to the press and demanded any employees who had already spoken to the media should come forward. Nevertheless, many staff were not deterred and contacted us with new comments and information.
The company even contacted the police, claiming that our anonymous tipster had violated the postal and telecommunications secrecy guidelines and his identity should be revealed – fortunately we were able to invoke our rights to protect anonymous sources.
Both Venture Village and Gruenderszene were also un-invited to a Groupon recruiting event the next day, despite Venture Village assisting with the planning. This decision apparently came “at the behest of Chicago”. We had clearly hit a nerve.
The insider scoop on Groupon practices
We received over 105 anonymous comments after the publication of the article. Many apparent ex-Groupon employees used Gruenderszene’s comments section to air their grievances in safety. Here are some of the most shocking:
• “It’s cramped, it’s loud[...] It’s more like 60/70 hours per week and the overtime will be not be credited or paid for. Friday is relaxed to midnight or 1am working[...] on Saturdays or Sundays you can then take a laptop with the software and work from home.”
• “[The] offices are small[...] The KPIs are overblown[...] If you do not achieve this, you get a single call!”
• A two-year employee speaks of witnessing “all the layoffs” that are carried out in a way that is “simply anti-social”. Another commenter confirmed that he witnessed “19 employees fired” in his sales territory within eleven months.
• One comment that came up repeatedly was that our report was merely “the tip of the iceberg”. A former employee told us that Oliver Samwer smashed a keyboard into the monitor of a workstation in a fit of anger.
Groupon’s official statement
Groupon reacted swiftly to our article, although we found the official response to our findings somewhat incredible (translated from German):
“It is with surprise and dismay that we must conclude that your journalistic activity is limited to the collection of assumptions, leaked e-mails, anonymous blog postings or other statements. The allegations against us are baseless [...]
“Groupon is based on the successful interaction between employees, partners and customers. Every day we receive feedback from each of these three areas (even critical feedback) [...] We do not claim to be a perfect company but are learning and improving ourselves constantly. Thus, we have developed in recent months, many appreciated innovations that are used by our employees, customers and partners alike – it’s not for nothing that we have over a quarter of a million partners and more than 33 million active users, spread over 48 countries around the globe.
“Should you be interested in serious, more profound research, we are of course happy to assist you [...]”