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Online coupons may be fakes that merchants won't honor

Not all online coupons are what they seem., an online coupon site similar to Groupon and Living Social, has allegedly sold a number of unauthorized coupons that merchants refuse to honor, according to

Edward Dworksy of Waltham, Mass., tried to redeem a $6 coupon he had purchased from MobileSpinach for $3 at a local Chinese restaurant. The owner of the restaurant said he had never heard of MobileSpinach and that he would not honor the discount.

The case in Massachusetts wasn’t the only flub from the little-known coupon site.

Jim Gilbride, owner of the Old Country Deli in Hicksville, N.Y., recently had a caller offer him an opportunity to buy a MobileSpinach ad, according to the MSNBC article. The ad showed up on even after Gilbride declined the offer.

“This is a scam of sorts … or a naÏve company that thinks they can advertise deals that they have not yet formally acquired,” Dworsky, a former assistant attorney general in Massachusetts, told

Dworksy now runs, a consumer advocate website.

MobileSpinach has responded to several complaints with a statement on its website.

In the statement, the company blames the growing market as the reason that merchants refuse to redeem some of its coupons.

“Many of our deals have been for online delivery orders only, where you apply a coupon code at one of our online menu ordering partners to get the discount,” the company said in the statement. “However, there has been some confusion as people have gone to the merchant directly first and not being able to get the deal.

“We believe that because so many daily deals companies are calling and selling to local merchants that it is getting confusing for everyone.”

MobileSpinach provided a telephone number and support email for anyone seeking a refund after having problems redeeming coupons.


TWITTER: @joeyferguson