Coupon Sites Report Slump as Shoppers Flee After Hack Attack

Surfer traffic to Israeli online coupon sites has fallen by about 25%, says Eitan Singer, CEO of Zap, which operates a special deals website called dday.

Mia Epstein
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Mia Epstein

Online shopping at Israeli sites is hurting in the aftermath of a hacking attack that exposed the credit information of thousands of Israelis on Internet. Surfer traffic to Israeli online coupon sites has fallen by about 25%, says Eitan Singer, CEO of Zap, which operates a special deals website called dday, but he notes that it's all very fresh in people's minds and there's no telling what the morrow might bring.

In the meantime, virtual shoppers are voting with their all-too-real feet, says Singer, and all the big coupon sites - Groupon, Baligam and Buy2 - are feeling the pain. Not all are admitting as much because they're afraid of making things worse, he added.

Yet clearly not everybody is letting the incident affect them. "We had one deal that sold out by 2 P.M.," said Noam Bergelson, business-development manager at Buy2. "I wouldn't jump to conclusions that the industry will slow down," he said.

If there's one area of the Internet shopping experience that's booming after the hackers - a Saudi, a Qatari and a Russian, reportedly - published the credit card data online, it's on the Facebook pages of the coupon companies. They're flooded with shoppers wanting information. Mostly, people want to know if it's safe to shop online using their credit cards.

Baligam, for instance, wrote a letter to surfers on its homepage, reassuring them that it is perfectly safe to shop, and that its site is secured with the best security means available.

On Buy2's Facebook page, one frustrated shopper urged the company to adopt the PayPal system.

Not all the surfers buy the companies' claims of safety. "You expect us to believe you?" snarled a surfer identified as "Sharon". "Even if your site wasn't broken into, and maybe it wasn't, the future lies ahead."

"To tell you the truth, I'm a little afraid to buy right now on coupon websites," wrote another surfer. "Even if they say they're safe and they don't keep our credit information on file, what happened, happened."

Singer adds that the coupon site companies do not keep the credit information of shoppers, hence they do not have databases from which hackers can steal credit information.

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