Nov 16, 2012

Vietnam - Customers worried as Groupon firm in trouble

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Customers of the Groupon company Nhom Mua ( are greatly concerned as the website is now inaccessible and the company’s headquarters has been blockaded by economic police.

Operating with the groupon model, Nhom Mua is a deal-of-the-day website that features products at discounted prices and vouchers usable at several local companies, including fashion shops, cafés, restaurants, and household product stores.

Its customers nationwide are now worried that they may not be able to use their purchased vouchers or receive the products they ordered as the company has seemingly shut down.

In the worse-case scenario, the buyers may not get any refunds for the vouchers or products they have bought.

“I’ve bought several vouchers from the company. They all still have valid usage dates but I’m not sure if I can use them for transactions now,” said N.T.B., a resident in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 10.

Some restaurants and stores announced shortly after the news of the company’s potential shutdown broke that they will not accept vouchers bought from Nhom Mua until the case is cleared.
Some buyers have contacted the company’s customer care service, and were told that the company is “upgrading its system and is expected to resume operation next week,” newswire VTC quoted a Nhom Mua attendant as saying.

The customer care attendant assured customers that the purchased vouchers are still usable, while denying the rumor that the company is experiencing an internal conflict.

System failure

“The company system is currently experiencing a technical fault as we are reviewing the entire system of the country, so Internet transactions cannot be completed,” said newly-assigned company director Kyle Pham.

On November 13 a video clip titled “Investors quelling Nhom Mua employees” was circulated on the internet showing a group of security guards with armor, helmets, and bludgeons fighting another group of people wearing blue T-shirts displaying the Nhom Mua text.

“The clip might have been posted following the incident caused by a misunderstanding during the transferring process between the old and new director,” Pham said.

Kyle Pham was on Tuesday appointed to take over the director chair of Nhom Mua, as its founder, Tom Tran, is currently being inspected by Vietnamese economic police and was forced to exit Vietnam last week, Saigon Tiep Thi newspaper reported.

The company headquarters in Ho Chi Minh City was thus blockaded on Tuesday for an inspection related to Tran, who was said to have embezzled company assets and conducted several non-transparent internal transactions.

Pham said the fight was initiated when a female employee under the erstwhile director refused to hand over the company stamp to the new board.

“She then telephoned someone outside for help, and the clip must have been filmed when our guards prevented the outsiders from entering the company,” he explained.

The new director said Nhom Mua’s Internet transactions will not be able to resume operation until November 20.

The company has worked with its partners and ensured that all transactions using vouchers from Nhom Mua are still valid, he said.

“Customers will get a refund if they cannot use the vouchers,” he promised.


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