Groupon rapped for selling snake oil

Snake with thought bubble, Shutterstock

Britain's Advertising Standards Agency has banned Groupon from marketing snake oil.

An internet sales promotion for "Wrinkle Killer Snake Serum" promised to "reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles" and "tackle the signs of ageing." When challenged, Groupon claimed that the claims refer only to the "sensory and/or temporary effects of the product's application". The ASA ruled that they were "misleading and could not be substantiated," and could not be made again. It also ordered Groupon not to make future efficacy claims without substantiation.

The product, sold in lipstick-sized containers for £119($170), is advertised online with even more fanciful language: "Wrinkle Killer Snake Serum, uses a combination of oxygen and a formula replicating the Temple Viper’s venom to inhibit muscle contractions therefore reducing wrinkles."

Such products may fail science class, but are not without advocates. Britain's highly-respected Daily Mail newspaper described the creams as "the latest antidote to wrinkles" in an unbylined report whose primary source was a manager at a department store that sells them.


  1. Great article, but there is an error: –  “Britain’s highly-respected Daily Mail newspaper”. Britain respects the Daily Mail about as much as America respects the National Enquirer.

      1. You’re absolutely right. It should be a tip of the hat to Maggie (see ). I would suck at Boing Boing Trivial Pursuit.

        And I’m giving Maggie credit for what I said, not what Rob said. Which can be confusing, because I’m also Rob.

  2. I’m glad to see them going after the snake-oil sales-men, but how about those restaurants that have started charging for the sound of the stake cooking, whilst withholding the very beef itself?

    1. I stopped using Groupon when I couldn’t find the ‘snake-oil kill switch’.  I was referring to it as that when I was seeing these bracelets, amusing to see they’re actually selling snake oil.

    2. Groupon and similar deal sites seem to be increasingly overrun with quack medicine products.  (That, and cheap stuff from Hong Kong billed as being sold at a vastly exaggerated discount.)  It seems legitimate businesses have gotten wise to the utility of group discounts.

  3. Excuse me whilst I rage. DAILY MAIL IS NOT RESPECTED. I get that your statement might be sarcasm but I just want to make my point.

  4. It may not be respected but its website recently overtook the NY Times as the top (ie most hits/unique users) newspaper website in the world.

    I despair.

    1. It’s something of an in joke at this point, of course the n00bs don’t get it.  The usual suspects are rather silent so far, though. 
      Daily Fail.  Respected.  ROFLcopters, that.

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