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Not-so-tough-now Groupon rep fired for Yelp threat

The UpTake: Score one for the little guy. A restaurant owner who used social media to expose a Groupon rep’s hardline tactics got the rep fired. As for the daily deal site, it can’t have many more of these incidents.

The Groupon rep who was accused of threatening a restaurant owner with bad Yelp reviews from his friends can now stay home and watch mob movies about how you really shake down a business owner. He’s been fired.

Here’s what the Chicago-based daily deals company said in an emailed statement yesterday, according to All Things Digital.

“We can confirm that the individual is no longer a Groupon employee,” Groupon said of Andrew “Andy” Johnston, in a statement. “As a company that has featured more than 500,000 merchants, we take our relationships with every business very seriously and do everything we can to ensure they have a great experience with Groupon. We have personally apologized to the merchant.”

The drama began over the weekend when Trip Hosley, the owner of San Francisco-based restaurant Sauce posted an email to his Facebook page that he was signed by Johnston.

“Hi Trip! I sincerely appreciate you hanging up on me. As a resident of San Francisco for over 25 years, I have a huge network of friends (ages 25-40) that all are extremely active on Yelp as well as other social media. I will gladly let them know how you treated me as well as my feelings about the people who run Sauce.”

Hosley acknowledged that he was abrupt with Hosley, but the email clearly was not a professional response to a rejection.

Groupon (Nasdaq: GRPN), which has dealt with this sort of bad press before, including with restaurant owners displeased with deals,did the right thing by taking decisive action. In the end, Sauce—which based on its website looks like a nice place with a good menu—may come out on top as a result of all the publicity.

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Mystic Maggie

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