In my opinion Oferta Simple is Terrible
In my opinion the company that is similar to Groupon Oferta Simple is Terrible. In fact they have NO phone number to call & they hide their contact information on their whois status for their domain. That seems very very suspicious to me. A full blown visible company shouldn’t be hiding themselves from customers.
Kevin Friedman – I’m pretty sure he’s the owner operator or a family member & they are native North American. His English is too perfect to be from a Panamanian, although it depends if he was raised by English speaking parents in Panama.
Oferta Simple is a wanna be copycat of Groupon. Groupon is just getting started in Panama, & unfortunately their deals aren’t as good as Oferta Simple’s, but at the time when I first arrived in Panama, Oferta Simple was the only visible game in town.
I started buying from Oferta Simple in what I consider to be HUGE quantities, but I started to have problems with their company from the start. Being that I’m a very reasonable person if treated with respect & the company solves the issues, I was cool about the issues & at first, as they did try to resolve all of them.
First, I wasn’t getting their daily e-mails. Someone had unsubscribed not one e-mail, but 2 of my e-mails from their system. It was either that, or again, the coding of their site is so poor, that it was unsubscribing me. Their coding is still terrible. I will often click on the “print” button to view my oferta & it will take me back to their oferta of the day.
Kevin did elude to the fact that when I clicked on the American flag, it could be doing wonky things to my account.
Then at a later date I had some other problems with their site. Again a poorly coded Panamanian site, so Last Pass wouldn’t work properly, but it all got sorted out eventually.
Then I had problems with my credit card not saving in their system, so I would have to type it in manually every time. It eventually got resolved.
That’s when I found out they are ONLY using Pay Pal & if you don’t know this, any site that ONLY uses Pay Pal isn’t a very professional company. Many people don’t like using Pay Pal & shouldn’t be forced to use them or deal with them, but I found out I had no choice, since Oferta Simple wasn’t going to get a real merchant account.
My first purchase I paid what I consider to be a lot of money for concert tickets. I was told the tickets were worth $80, yet when I got to the venue, the seat was WAY WAY in the back near the cheap seats. I couldn’t see a thing at all. If that’s an $80 seat, one should NEVER go to a concert in Panama & I never will again.
And by the way, these aren’t real seats like you get at a concert in the US or Canada, these are tables with chairs you sit on like at a wedding, you know, those cheap straight back chairs.
I complained to Kevin (not about the seats, but about where I was located in relation to the stage), but he ignored my complaint. A foreshadowing of how he responds to customer’s complaints.
I found out later on that other expats (locals don’t know any better) also complain about the quality of the seating & the high ticket prices. My issue was, that I was told by Oferta Simple that it was a VERY good seat & it wasn’t.
I also started to notice that the reviews on their site re: the companies they chose to promote were probably fake. I once reviewed a restaurant that had TERRIBLE reviews via this Panamanian restaurant review site which I trust more, yet the reviews on the Oferta Simple site were glowing.
I asked how they could showcase a restaurant that had terrible reviews & Kevin said… “We do our best to provide our members with compelling offers from local merchants. If today’s deal is not a fit, then hopefully, we’ll have some in the coming weeks that are more in line with your tastes.” He totally ignored the whole point of my comment. Based on my dealings with Kevin over the months, I take it one day Kevin will become a great politician who avoids answering your question & tries to act pleasant all in the same breath.
One time I posted a question on Oferta Simple’s discussion area for an oferta & my question was ignored. I wasn’t able to purchase because they didn’t get back to me in time. Everyone else’s question was answered, so I wrote to customer service asking why mine wasn’t & they said they overlooked it.
Fine, remember, this entire time I’ve been using Oferta with no REAL complaints. Sure these issues were adding up, but I had already been forewarned at how terrible Panamanian companies were, so I wasn’t getting too upset at this point.
In fact, I had even started promoting them through their referral program, but not once did I get any money for my efforts. Not saying anyone signed up, but now that I’ve experienced this last MAJOR issue with them, I am wondering if I did have people sign up & I just didn’t get the money.
In September 2011 I had a problem with Kevin responding to one of my e-mails. One day I was on the road & couldn’t contact one of the ofertas because the woman who runs the spa service isn’t very accessible via her office or her cell number. I kept trying to contact customer service at Oferta Simple & I only received one response out of my 3 e-mails. Needless to say, I was quite stressed, as I had booked an appointment with her & needed to reschedule or something. The entire day went by with no response from Oferta Simple which meant I was scrambling around trying to solve this issue by myself.
At some point during all of this, Rebeca (their customer service rep) offered to book appointments for me if I couldn’t reach the companies & of course because I’m not fluent in Spanish, I thought this would be perfect. I didn’t take her up on her offer until later on, but I thought this was nice of her. I’m of the adage that unless you are going to follow through on your offer, DON’T OFFER!
When I mentioned that I had e-mailed Kevin, at no time did they tell me he’s on vacation which was what he told me later on once he finally responded to my e-mail. When I asked “doesn’t your staff know you are on vacation?”, he didn’t answer me. He could have been lying since Panamanians lie all the time. I don’t know, all I know is that he ignored me which is passive aggression BIG TIME!
In order for you to understand my situation, I no longer lived in Panama City at this point, so I couldn’t just rush back to my home & grab any info I needed. Once I left home, I was on the road the entire time, but even so, I couldn’t get in touch with this company – Oferta Simple.
When I asked Kevin point blank why he didn’t have a phone number on his site, he ignored my question & just referred me to the e-mail address & stated how his OTHER members find the customer service great. I hate it when people do that. It doesn’t matter what other people say, you deal with each customer individually & support them. They deserve care if they are having problems. I’ve learned over the years that any company who gives you the line “no one else has a problem but you.” is lying. It’s IMPOSSIBLE that any company (even mine & I’m top notch in my customer service) provides perfect 100% customer service. This standard line is usually a crux for people who don’t give a shit & just want the customer to feel bad.
What I can say with certainty, is that their customer service (not talking Kevin here) was pretty good until I started having HUGE problems. They would respond back within 24 hours or less, but as time went on, that was no longer the case. They started to ignore me which again, is sooo typical in Panama. What this means, is that any North American who comes here to do business & only cares about money & not their customer, will probably use the same “ignoring” tactic instead of just fixing & dealing with the problem.
Obviously they did fix the problems I had with their site (e-mail, saving credit card issues), because if I couldn’t get the oferta e-mails & my credit card wouldn’t save, than they lose money. But as you will see below, once it came down to something that they didn’t want to deal with, they blamed me the customer. And again, in typical Latin fashion, DIDN’T apologize even ONCE for their behavior. They apologized on behalf of the companies they promote, but not what they, Oferta Simple, specifically did to me.
Fast forward to an e-mail conversation between Kevin Friedman and me in September 2011. I stated VERY clearly that if I didn’t get the service I paid for, I was going to want a refund. I told him that I hoped that was VERY clear.
His response was… “I know that sometimes a business we work with doesn’t deliver quite the customer experience that i’d hope for… i’m a customer too. But I guess this is somewhat tempered by the fact that at least I received a great deal when making the original purchase.”
Let’s talk about Groupon for a second… Groupon gives EXCELLENT customer service most of the time & will refund you if there’s ever a problem with the business you went to. They will also manage problems on your behalf trying to resolve them.
So let’s get to the crux of why I’m writing this post about Oferta Simple, because if I just wanted to bash them because I’m mean (which I’m not), then I would have done this ages ago, but I didn’t.
So here’s what happened that warrants this blog post…
I bought an oferta from 2 different companies. One was a restaurant where I was lied to & reprimanded in front of the entire room of customers – see review here, & the other was a so called spa that I had repeated problems with. You can read the story here.
When the restaurant situation happened on October 15, 2011, I wrote to Oferta Simple & was treated very well. I told her what happened, & Rebeca was very apologetic & stated she would of course refund my money to my credit card or Oferta Simple account. I had bought 2 ofertas for this restaurant unfortunately, so I understood she was going to refund both.
I asked her to explain to me why the restaurant owner lied to me, but I never got an answer.
During this conversation, I also asked her to tell Renee (one of the owners of that spa) that I was still having problems with his spa (see post above) since he wasn’t picking up when I called him on his cell. I asked her to reschedule the appointment for me.
3 days went by with no response from Rebeca – October 18th.
Then another 2 days went by – October 20th & this time I was pissed. I said since you aren’t going to book the appointment with the above spa & you won’t address the problems I’m having with them, just refund me the outstanding ofertas for those too.
She wrote me back & said she issued me a refund for the restaurant & I should receive it within 72 hours.
I forgot about the refund.
Instead of Rebeca just booking the appointment with the spa, she opted to give me the refund instead.
Then I asked her to book another appointment with another spa type place I have been going to for months. I made the mistake of giving a translator I was trying out & Rebeca the wrong number. What happened was… this spa originally had no available time slots available by the time I went to see them back in August or September.
I wasted my time & money, plus paying my translator to come with me, only to arrive & have the owner tell me (well my translator) that they had no appointments available for months because they were too busy because of the oferta promotion. I wasn’t happy at all. They should have planned for this knowing the oferta went out. This was before I learned that most Panamanian businesses owners are clueless on how to run a business properly. Nothing to do with customer service, although that’s a factor too.
They suggested I go to another location & so that’s what I did, I started going to that other location, but when I went to grab the number to have this new translator & Rebeca call & re-book my appointment, I took it from Oferta Simple’s website, not the business card I had. Of course the number on the website was for the first location, not the second.
I eventually gave Rebeca the right number. Rebeca for some strange reason got confused & even though I didn’t say a thing about a refund & CLEARLY stated I wanted to reschedule & gave her all the information, she assumed I wanted a refund. She couldn’t follow my simple instructions.
I wrote her back frustrated.
2 days went by (we are now at October 27th) with no response & I was trying to cancel one of the appointments before my visa run as it’s disrespectful to not show up for an appointment.
October 29th I e-mailed again. Again NO RESPONSE!
You have to remember that every other time I got quick responses to my e-mails, so this clearly tells me they were avoiding me just like Kevin does. If you don’t know much about business, when the staff acts up, it’s always because of management or the owner. The staff should be held responsible, they are never truly to blame because they are managed by someone else, & if that management doesn’t care, neither will the staff. If management cared, they would have fired that staffer a long time ago.
November 3rd, I e-mail again & on the 4th she FINALLY gets back to me. This time she tells me she was out of the office with a migraine. Since I really don’t like to believe people lie, I believed her, but I knew she was lying about when she was out of the office. I can’t believe she was out of the office with no one attending e-mails since October 26th.
At this point it was obvious the relationship between me & Oferta Simple was tarnished. They were clearly purposely causing problems & treating me with the most disrespect. I remembered suddenly that I was supposed to get a refund from them re: the Japanese restaurant fiasco, so I went to look on my credit card statement around the time she said they refunded it & sure enough, IT WASN’T THERE.
So I e-mailed her about it, & on the 4th she tells me the $50 for the restaurant was refunded. She will get back to me with a confirmation about the refund. I’m thinking I’m going insane, but after looking again, I STILL CAN’T see the refund anywhere on my credit card statement. (more time wasted)
The next day on the 5th we had a little chat & she says she will call the spa place & get me that other appointment.
On the 8th I e-mail again asking what is going on, that this is really frustrating. Now I can’t go to the appointment I wanted on the Tuesday because she never booked it.
Another day goes by with NO WORD, so I did the next thing I could think of, I had to post my complaint in public on one of their discussion areas. Within 30-60 minutes it was removed & SUDDENLY Rebeca e-mails me. (This is the 9th – how convenient)
First she tells me she can on longer book appointments for customers. YES, tell me this after weeks have already gone by when you said you would book the appointment.
She then plays dumb & asks me to detail which refunds I wanted even though I had discussed this with her multiple times already. I admit, one of my triggers is having to repeat myself over & over & over again. I don’t do well with stupid lazy people. I admit it, shoot me.
I had to waste my time gathering all the oferta numbers & paste them into the ticket. Then I didn’t hear from her AGAIN.
On the 11th I wrote again asking for refund confirmation.
On the 12th I see the credits for the spa, but still no credit for the restaurant. I thanked her, but again, STILL NO RESPONSE. It really is like dealing with sulking little children.
November 15th I write AGAIN stating I feel like you are IGNORING ME. I’m STILL waiting for my last credit.
I then e-mail Kevin on the 17th explaining the problems with Rebeca. Kevin Friedman ignores me.
I then get a credit through Pay Pal & I’m charged a $1.50 fee for them giving me a credit.
I ask what the fee is for, I’M IGNORED AGAIN!
I then write saying I hope this is going to go onto my credit card & NOT into my pay pal account, I’m ignored AGAIN!
A few days later I purchase an oferta & then almost a whole month goes by with no purchases by me & I purchase a restaurant oferta on December 16th. Kevin suddenly writes me with clear outright LIE….
“Michelle, we’ve received complaints from past merchants. we have canceled your purchase this evening and submitted a refund which you should receive in 3-4 business days.
LOL, so I complain about 2 merchants & suddenly they are complaining about me, so he refuses to let me use his service? Since when does whatever a company says supersede what a customer says unless the customer is really a problem & a liar? All I can say is that liars stick together with other liars. It’s really that simple. This is how life is. I highly doubt anyone other than the spa & restaurant complained about me & they probably complained when they learned I got a refund. Like I said, Panamanians act like little children.
I wrote Kevin back staying that I was THE one who complained, but at least Kevin is consistent, he ignored me again.
So the feeling I get from all of this is, if you complain about something the company does, you the customer will be shot down & slapped, & Oferta Simple will side with the company they promote. Also, if you expect a refund because you didn’t get service, Oferta Simple will do everything in their power to avoid giving you your money back, no matter how much money you have spent with them. This may be how a lot of companies in Panama are like, I don’t know, I will keep you posted.
P.S. I’m editing this blog post on June 8, 2017, & YES, after living their for almost 3 years, this is how ALL companies in Panama are. They REFUSE to give you a refund or string you along to try & avoid it. They avoid talking to you whenever there is a problem in the hopes you will just go away.