Targeting Scams 2014 infographic – Source: ACCC Website

Groupon’s counterfeit condoms and Delivery Hero’s marketing mishap are just two of the recent misfortunes that have befell Internet companies with bases in Sydney and Australian’s are not impressed.

The Australian public’s negative and mistrusting perception of Internet companies and online purchases is not a new phenomena and has been historically compounded by past events. There were and still are the email scams from Nigerian Princes seeking help, the technical support from India that seeks to take remote control of your computer and the plethora of hacking scandals that one sees if they turn on the news for even a cursory glance.

To help stoke the fear fire the Heritage Foundation, has compiled a list of companies in 2014 that had sensitive data leaked and if that’s not enough the Australian Bureau of Statistics has made up an info-graphic of scam statistics from 2014.

Its apparent that making web based purchases and sharing sensitive or personal data online can be risky. Comparatively sex too, when combined with the web and oftentimes when not, can be a risky venture. This recently became evident when Groupon, a discount coupon website, sold and distributed counterfeit condoms to around four hundred Australians. By far this isn’t a new occurrence for the erotica industry, with China having recently discovered 2 million counterfeit condoms.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration confirmed that, “Defects may result in the condoms failing to prevent pregnancy and protect users against sexually transmitted infections.“

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission first published the recall notice of the Edgelounge Enterprise’s Durex branded condoms, through the Groupon website between March 12 and April 10.

“All customers who purchased the counterfeit products have been proactively contacted by Groupon notifying them of the recall,” an official spokesperson has confirmed with Mashable Australia. There were worries about the difficulty of contacting all the affected customers but Alex English, an editor at Groupon, assured me that,

“no person was left unaware that the condoms were counterfeit and Groupon went to great length to get in touch with everyone. The PR people behind me were calling all day non stop”

Delivery Hero, a food delivery intermediate, on the other hand suffered from a less obviously detrimental scandal in April 2015 involving, what amounted to, a failed voucher campaign.

The marketing team at Delivery Hero thought they could inspire new customers to join their service by giving out 20$ vouchers. Unfortunately they failed to increase employee numbers to accommodate the obvious increase in demand. This led to orders being delayed for up to 24 hours with most if not all requiring cancellation of refund.

Its easy to understand why someone would be angry if the meal they ordered didn’t arrive but you would think this would be tempered by the 20 free dollars they had just used to purchase it. It was not.

As Steve Morrison highlights,

“With the discount most users only ended up paying around 3 dollars for their meal, so the negative response Delivery Hero received on their facebook page really surprised me.”

The inclusion of Rhianna’s song “Bitch better have my money” sums up the average customers perspective perfectly states Mr Morrison, who remembers reading out that specific comment with colleagues the day after the campaign. He explained that

“Even though most people were only missing a few dollars from their accounts and this would be refunded with 5 working days, they were livid! We had hundreds of calls from people who didn’t think we were an actual business. Caller after caller thought we were a scam company.”

This is in part due to the lack of response to customer calls by Delivery Hero employees, as Steve says,

“We were under staffed for the amount of traffic that was coming our way. We could barely cancel the orders in time let alone answer calls about already cancelled ones. There just weren’t enough of us”.

The backlash that Delivery Hero experienced completely negated any positive effects that the company had hoped to garner from the campaign. One day of bad service was enough to be branded as “fake” and “fraudulent” by many Australians out


Both companies’ images suffered from their recent blunders, but it is unrealistic to expect a business to never stumble. Even worse is to hold responsible the new for the problems of the old.

Delivery Hero Twitter Comment Screenshot – Source: Thomas Payne

Talking to Miss English it has become clear that Groupon, like Delivery Hero, is suffering from its negative associations with the past, in particular, with email spammers.

Long have email spammers been hated, they provide clutter in an already cluttered space. Groupon, however, provides “email subscriptions” which are not necessarily “spam”. Admittedly its a gray area but the distinction lies in the fact that, unlike most others, each email has an unsubscribe button at the bottom of it. This, however, does not stop people associating it with spam. Miss English explains of the multitude of casual conversations she has had where people have expressed their distrust of the site, in particular stating,

“Groupon? That’s that bloody email spam scam thing! Isn’t it?”

Delivery Hero on the other hand has a different, yet just as just as hated, comparison to that of call centers.

Mr Morrison says he,

“Can’t count the amount of times people are surprised by my Australian accent over the phone. They usually think we are going to be some offshore type call center and are usually either happy or skeptical that I’m Aussie”

He tells of one time where he had to list streets in Sydney to prove he was a local. While he thinks that the persons surprise was humorous, he reminds us that,

My work environment is multicultural and my English, by far, is not the best in the office. Besides, it shouldn’t matter where you’re from.”

A history of negative experiences with offshore call centers motivates the perspective of these surprised customers and Delivery Hero will have a have hard time shaking the comparison.

So it is under the shadow of call centers and email spammers that web-based companies like Delivery Hero and Groupon sadly fall. A shadow that grows, even when those trained in marketing attempt to negate it.

Companies should be held responsible for the mistakes made in the present by them, not by the mistakes made in the past by others.