Ren Chunlei, CEO of Groupon.cn - a Chinese group-buy site not affiliated with US firm Groupon - yesterday announced on his personal microblog that the company has received funding and would begin paying outstanding debts. Although employees at Groupon.cn's Beijing headquarter were notified to come to the office to receive payment today, some employees reported that while workers in the administrative and finance departments have yet to receive their December or January pay, many employees collected their wages and resigned.
While the website continues to operate and be able to make sales, some merchants will not honor new transactions and the website is unable to refund customer's payments. Moreover, the site's customer service hotline is unavailable.
Earlier reports stated that Groupon.cn owed tens of millions of RMB to merchants. At Groupon.cn headquarters today, a project manager surnamed Wan contacted merchants nationwide instructing them to submit their company information and outstanding balance via an online form and informing them that the payment process is underway, but many merchants expressed doubts. While a Groupon.cn spokesperson said that partnerships will continue once outstanding debts have been paid, many merchants said they will sever all ties with the group buy site.
Employee back wages amount to approximately RMB 3-4 mln, according to an HR staffer who said that today Groupon.cn would first promptly pay back wages, but Wan previously stated that merchants' debts would be the first to be repaid, and a former employee surnamed Chen meanwhile claimed that today only December back wages would be paid, which are currently being reviewed by the finance department. Ren was unavailable for comment.
Editor's Note: For more information on this topic, please see "Rumor: Groupon.cn CEO Abandons Ship," MD 1/25/12 issue.