Challenge: For several years, the Internet coupon market in New York, and across the nation, had been growing, affording consumers an ever-expanding choice of goods and services to purchase at discounted prices, including medical, dental and other professional services, supplying New Yorkers with a competitive marketplace, and a much needed boost to local economies. Yet, the continued growth and success of the Internet coupon business model was put in jeopardy when two of New York’s most powerful state agencies took the position that these service providers were violating their professional responsibilities by offering Internet coupons, and were in danger of losing their licenses. Their interpretation of the relevant laws not only would have eliminated the sale of Internet coupons for companies such as Groupon that sell them, but would also have eliminated a critical source of revenue for the many small business owners and professional service providers who rely on these coupons to generate business.
Solution: To ensure that professionals such as doctors, dentists and chiropractors, for example, could continue to offer Internet coupons, on behalf of Groupon, the Parkside Group engaged in a multipronged advocacy strategy, focusing on key members of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration, the New York State Departments of Health and Education, and the State Legislature. Through our direct lobbying approach, and working alongside stakeholders, we worked to get decision makers in Albany to properly interpret the law to authorize the use of Internet coupons, saving an industry’s livelihood and that of thousands of small business owners across New York State.