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Online Shopping: Watch out for Phantom Discounts Print E-mail
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Shopping - Online
Written by Omie Ismail   
Thursday, 28 January 2010 01:27
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Online Shopping: Watch out for Phantom Discounts
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You would think given the maturity of e-commerce, that shopping cart software would work without fail. Well, never take anything for granted; software is prone to errors. If you're living cheap and on the prowl for exceptional value, you probably use coupon codes to snag bargain basement prices. But as I found out the hard way on a recent purchase with GNC, when you use coupons, shopping carts don't always process discounts correctly.



I'm an online coupon junkie and if there is one rule I live by, it is Rule #1, Never Pay Retail. Before you shop for anything online, you should always search for the best coupon offers before making your purchase. Sites like RetailmeNot and CouponCabin have saved me thousands of dollars over the years. So I was ecstatic when I scored a 30% off coupon at GNC that applied to any purchase over $150. What made the offer even sweeter was that I was splitting it with a friend and, with that kind of discount, I was bound to land a super cheap deal. Even better, when I went to checkout my order, GNC offered an additional 20% off the first day if I signed up for their Gold Card and they were going to throw in free shipping to boot. These guys were giving away the store and I was more than happy to take it off their hands. It was a Cheapster's dream - especially if you were out to buy products that are rarely discounted.

But my dream went up in smoke when I checked how my order was processed. To put it nicely, the damn shopping cart software wouldn't cooperate. Perhaps you can spot the error below:


GNC Shopping Cart Error


For those of you without an eye for detail, the problem is that the $39.99 Gold Card Savings that is itemized is never reflected in the Estimated Total and when you check out, it disappears entirely. If you do the math according to the cart it should be $114.98 (per the coupon it should be $126.98 since it is 20% after all other discounts) . So GNC offers you a discount but conveniently fails to subtract it from your total.

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Sunny  - Online Coupon Code Website |2011-12-09 14:52:10
I'd like to recommend Coupon Mountain too. I like that the site is really organized and has changed a lot. The site looks a little funny, but overall, I think it's really good and sometimes easier to browse through than the sites on this list.
Keva Servantez  - I like to suggest |2011-03-18 22:36:59
I like to suggest
KindCoupons. It is also a great source of coupon codes.
Sus  - Not even 30% |2010-02-01 17:58:52
If you do the math, 30% of $214.96 is $64.49. So you did not even get 30% discount on your purchase of $150+ in the first place.
Omiewon  - Gold Card Fee Not Discounted |2010-02-01 22:22:23
Sus, good spot. Turns out the gold card fee doesn't discount just the product. So that part is correct but the funny thing is that they said that if I got the Gold Card, I could save the $27.....

They really believe they have no problem with their shopping cart eventhough its obvious that the Gold Card Discount is just not working.
Gian S  - How about |2010-02-01 12:44:10
How about initiating a chargeback with your credit card company? It clearly shows the discount but has calculate the final price wrong. This should be enough detail for the CC company while also being small enough so GNC will refund the price without fuss. I always make contact once with the online retailer; if they can't assist me in one try, I do a chargeback. In addition, the people who handle the chargebacks for the company all seem to be intelligent folks with JDs who don't jerk you around.
Omiewon  - Good Point on Chargeback |2010-02-01 13:39:38
What amazed me is how cavalier they were about this from the customer service person to their manager. If you go in the store and there is an error on the shelf in pricing because some stock person got it wrong, legally they are required to give it to you.

I did the screenshot so it was obvious to everyone that the math is just plain wrong. I don't normally shop at GNC, but this experience is making VitaminShoppe and others look a lot better.
SLEZE  - So did they give you the discount or what? |2010-02-01 05:39:24
It sounds like they are very close to running afoul of false advertising laws.
Omiewon  - Nope |2010-02-01 22:27:32
No, they didn't even after several calls. They kept telling me just to use another one of their deals. Not worth the time to fight it after spending several hours on this one. The issue that sucks is they are the lowest cost provider for what I want and I hate paying anymore than I have to more than I hate playing their games.
Sleuth  - Phanton Discounts |2010-01-29 08:49:43
It has gotten to a point now where you have to have a calculator in front of you to check the arithmetic online.If they won't make good on their coupon offer then take your business somewhere else.
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