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Harr's Surf & Turf Customers Speak Out About Coupons, Manager Admits Mistake

Last week, we told you about how Palm Harbor market Surf & Turf is having some financial problems, which the manager blamed on a Groupon deal. Plenty of customers have spoken out, and we've heard from Groupon and Surf & Turf again.

If you've visited Surf & Turf you may have noticed there is not very much food on the shelves and in the meat cases. Photo Credit: Sunde Farquhar
If you've visited Surf & Turf you may have noticed there is not very much food on the shelves and in the meat cases. Photo Credit: Sunde Farquhar

Last week, we told you about how Harr's Surf & Turf market is having some financial troubles. If you've visited this popular fresh meat and seafood market on Tampa Road in Palm Harbor, you may have noticed there is not very much food on the shelves and in the meat cases.

Manager Stephan Innocenzi said a deal with Groupon did not bring in as much money as they had hoped, even though Surf & Turf redeemed close to 40,000 Groupon vouchers over the last two years. He also mentioned that he thought some Groupon customers were manipulating the system by using fake emails to get multiple gift certificates.

Palm Harbor Patch requested information from Groupon about the contract it had with Harr's Surf & Turf.

We've now heard back from Groupon and we spoke with Innocenzi again as well.

Groupon Media Relations Spokesperson Nick Halliwell says Groupon does restrict the use of multiple email addresses and credit card addresses.

He also said that Groupon was not the only company that Harr's Surf & Turf had worked with.

"The merchant has run deals with five other dealers," said Halliwell. 

"That's not something we recommend," he added.

Some Surf & Turf customers had made similar observations in the comments section of our first story and on the Palm Harbor Patch Facebook page.

"I have seen Harr's deals offered in Val Pak and Half Off Depot as well. I have actually seen those deals on an almost weekly basis too, so Groupon is definitely not to blame in this situation at all," commented Anne Marie on Palm Harbor Patch. 

"Then why on earth would they also be doing Half Off Depot and Valpak...really! Did they not ready the contracts and do they not know that people are also in tough economic times and looking for a bargain. Let's also remember their makeup is much higher than most retailers to begin with. Makes me angry that they are blaming everyone else instead of taking responsibility for bad management," said Tammy Painter Urchick on the Palm Harbor Patch Facebook page. 

When we followed up with Surf & Turf manager Stephan Innocenzi, he explained his comments may have been misinterpreted and he also took full responsibility for what happened.

"I think some of the people took it the wrong way," said Innocenzi of his previous comments.

"I know I made a mistake by not doing my due diligence. I don't blame my customers. I don't blame Groupon. It was my decision to do the deals," he added.

Innocenzi says Surf & Turf opened in 1987 and has had a lot of loyal customers throughout the years, who are appreciated very much.

"The only way were able to grow is with our customers. We take pride in what we do here," he said.

Innocenzi explained how frustrated he is about not being able to offer Surf & Turf customers as many products as he'd like.

"I can't provide what they want on a day-to-day basis" he said

However, the situation could be changing soon. Innocenzi is expecting a big influx of food on store shelves in five or six days. As soon as that happens, Patch will let you know.

Halliwell also mentioned that on Monday, a Groupon representative spoke with someone at Surf & Turf and was told that the market was happy with their Groupon experience, but did have a handful of redemption complaints.

Innocenzi said the Groupon representative did not speak to him.

As for any business owners who might be considering using Groupon, Nick Halliwell has the following suggestions-

  • Prepare staff to focus on customer service, look for upsell opportunities and track offer redemption
  • Schedule deal timing based on business needs and seasonality
  • Estimate and understand the promotion's impact on profitability. Monitor customer overspend, repeat traffic, etc.
  • Measure success by using free tools provided by daily deal company, such as the Groupon Merchant Impact Report
  • Encourage repeat visitors with a customer loyalty program
Editor's Note: Palm Harbor Patch would also like to point out that Harr's Surf & Turf had a wide variety of comments from customers on our original article and our Facebook page. Some were happy with the service and prices, while others were not-

"Always have a great experience & great food. Shopped there for years - hope they pull out of this!" said Susan Senger on Facebook.

"Oh my. I have never used groupon and sure hope they can recover. I enjoy shopping there!" said Jennie Wilson on Facebook.

"Tried to use Groupons there today and shelves were bare. Their prices have recently went sky high and service is down the drain, sad because they have been our market of choice for decades, Southern Steer has all my business now," said Jack Clemons II on Facebook.

"I bought 2 Groupon's. When I used them, I bought twice as much as the value of the coupon so they did make money off of me. 
BUT, I will never shop there again because their prices were already ridiculous or they started jacking them up after they started offering coupons. Their prices were double what I can get the same quality product at other butcher shops. They are getting what they are giving. They are just as cheap as the people they were complaining about, if not worse," said Gina Platt on Facebook.

Related-

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Joanna Varner September 20, 2013 at 08:52 PM
we have been shopping at surf for 20 yrs. best seafood and kbobs in pinellas county. stefan, bev, ervin and staff have always been courteous and professional. we will look for them to reopen and continue to enjoy their great food and service. triedsouthern steer and thought it was waytoo salty, wont go back. first and last post on ph patch. way too snarky and smug for me.
Joanna Varner September 20, 2013 at 08:59 PM
and regarding Groupons i saw many couples come inwith 2 groupons and exploit the intent of the offer. try to get Publix to custom cut chicken or grind meat for you. surf's prices were competitive and Boars head was less than publix. another local butcher told us surf was reopening near Trinity, sure hope so!
Joanna Varner September 20, 2013 at 09:01 PM
also groupon will refund your coupon if store is closed
Jackson Epper September 26, 2013 at 01:47 PM
So much for that "we're not going anywhere" attitude they shared just a few weeks ago. Looks like they're closed for good. Can't say we didn't see that one coming!
Bev harr October 29, 2013 at 10:13 PM
Yes we are re opening in trinity. Brand new start and looking forward to it .... Hope to see all of our loyal customers there

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