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Good News: Groupon May Owe You Money — Bad News: It Will Be Paid In Groupon Credit

Remember that hot stone massage voucher you never used in 2010? It's time to get PAID.

Last updated on July 3, 2018, at 1:29 p.m. ET

Posted on November 11, 2015, at 6:05 p.m. ET

Brendan McDermid / Reuters

Good news! If you bought a Groupon voucher that you didn't redeem or get a refund on between Nov. 1, 2008, and Dec. 1, 2011, you probably qualify for compensation from Groupon as part of a big class-action lawsuit settlement.

Bad news: It will be paid in Groupon credit.

And you can't use it on a lot of the good stuff.

Earlier this week, I received an email saying I may be a member of a class of consumers eligible for compensation, as Groupon has finally settled an incredibly long legal battle over whether expiration dates and certain messaging around its vouchers violated state and federal laws on gift cards and gift certificates.

Back in 2012, Groupon agreed to pay $8.5 million to settle the case, at which point it sent similar settlement emails to customers. But that agreement was terminated in June of this year after some class members objected to how the funds were distributed and the size of the attorneys' fees.

It's probably something you never thought about. While you lived your life these past few years, there were people out there fighting a long, hard, lonely battle for your right to unused Groupon credit.

Remember the peak of the Groupon era? An example on the website set up for people to file claims and get more information on the lawsuit really brings you back to that special time and place — $49 for "10 Yoga or Bollywood Dance Classes (a $100 value)."

Groupon Settlement Page / Via

Trying quirky new things! For cheap! For a limited time only! Such was the promise a really good Groupon made.

The news that you might be able to get a payout for an unused Groupon brings with it a rush of emotions. Excitement that you might be getting paid. Resentment, long suppressed, over losing that money so long ago. Hope, for what could come next.

But temper those feelings.

First, while your claim could earn you up to 130% of what you paid for the voucher, it will arrive in the form of Groupon credit, not cold hard cash. That credit must be redeemed within nine months, and it can't be used on Groupon Goods — products that come straight from merchants — or market-rate hotel stays offered on Groupon Getaways. And you can't use it on Groupon's new takeout and delivery food service, or on "link out" offers or gift cards.

Secondly, as I quickly learned, your Groupon account may not exist anymore! So many memories, lost. If the account has been shuttered, you might not have a record of what you bought, which is required for submitting a claim for compensation. The company said you can call or email to resurrect your account for the purpose of receiving the aforementioned settlement credits.

And finally, it will be a while before you see any compensation. A hearing to approve the settlement is scheduled for next February. If it isn't approved then, the long march for justice will, presumably, go on.

So it remains to be seen how many people will join the 70,600 claims submitted as part of the 2012 settlement, which automatically count for this one too. If you want in on the action, the form is here.

The lawyers, of course, will not be paid in Groupon credit. They will make up to $2.13 million in actual cash, the preferred currency of attorneys everywhere.

The settlement comes as Groupon struggles to bring back the magic that powered its early growth. The company recently said it would cut 1,100 jobs, or 9% of its workforce, and replaced its CEO for the second time in three years. It has struggled to rebrand itself as an e-commerce platform amid the decline of the daily-deal email craze and in the face of growing competition.

The settlement might bring a few lapsed customers back to the site — to Groupon's credit (pun intended), I spend more time thinking about it today than I have in years. I also learned it has a clip-on man bun for sale on its site right now. The company declined to comment, about the settlement or the man bun.