Groupon (GRPN -1.1%) has fired a sales rep who ignited a firestorm by sending an e-mail that passive-aggressively threatened a restaurant owner who hung up on him with negative Yelp (YELP -1.8%) reviews from friends.
The company has tried to address the issue by investigating complaints, tagging local businesses found guilty of deceitful practices, and using an algorithm to filter questionable/low-quality reviews.
The firing comes as Groupon launches a partner network to handle its ongoing affiliate marketing deals with 3rd-party sites/apps. 10K content publishers spread across 34 countries are supported.
VP Sean Smyth asserts Groupon offers promoted via affiliate marketing have higher conversion rates than other approaches (e-mail, mobile notifications, etc.), and thinks a formal network will help with international distribution. The company eventually wants hundreds of thousands of sites to be covered.
More bullish comments from Piper's Gene Munster: a July Piper survey found 65% of those who had bought a Groupon planned on making another purchase.