Ok, so maybe the headline of this is tad unfair and technically incorrect. However, there is no denying that Groupon’s reputation has stung in recent days because the popular Chicago-based online coupon company overstated its financial position in its first quarter as a public company.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Groupon’s auditors discovered that the coupon company suffered a “material weakness in its internal controls” and did not set aside enough money for customer refunds. The size of this oops-worthy mistake was more than $14 million, the newspaper reported.
For companies that are trying to polish their accounting numbers to make them look as good as possible, there is a deep downside – bad PR that travels quickly. Reputations are hard to earn and quickly lost.
The numbers might have frustrated Google’s investors if the company had recorded their financials right the first time; however, it would also not be shown in a negative light at the front page of the leading financial newspaper.
Groupon should leave the deep discounting to specials. Deep discounting on accounting practices will lead to negative publicity that will last longer than the daily deal.