Quebec business owners say Groupon owes them cash as its northern presence fades

Some small business owners in Quebec say Groupon Inc. has left them in the lurch amid signs the company is scaling back its operations in the province.

Eloise Lafreniere, who owns the Davelo Beauty Institute in the Montreal suburb of Carignan, says she hasn't received a cent of the $11,500 she claims the daily deals company owes her following a promotional campaign for facials and other treatments at her salon in February.

Jean-Benoit Daigneault, who runs the Heli-Tremblant helicopter tour company, says Groupon owes him nearly $2,000. He says he's been forced to deny passengers coupons as a result, harming customer relations.

Both entrepreneurs say Groupon has been unresponsive to their calls and emails after the company quietly shuttered its Montreal sales office in March. Groupon says any delayed payments stem from client communication or information issues, and will be repaid when vouchers are redeemed.

Some confusion has nonetheless set in. Quebec's Consumer Protection Office says it received a complaint on May 15 about the company and a spa that would not redeem a coupon purchased from Groupon.

Once a giant of the online discount marketplace, the Chicago-based company has seen its share price -- which breached $26 after its initial public offering in 2011 -- dwindle to below $5 for much of the past four years. Revenues have fallen nearly 13 per cent over the past three years to $2.64 billion in 2018, and the company has lost money eight of the past 10 years.