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.