Groupon’s New Fuzzy Math

Unorthodox accounting metrics are not new to Groupon. In the latest instance, the daily deal site says it isn’t happy that some “clever people” are using its Deal Counter, which states how many times a given deal has been sold, to “make (consistently incorrect) estimates of our total company sales.” So the company is purposely making the Deal Counter less accurate.

A post on Groupon’s official blog explains the numbers you’ll now see on the Deal Counter:

Instead of showing the exact number of Groupons purchased, the counter is now reduced by a random percentage – sometimes 0.5%, sometimes 19.5%, or anything in between.

Additionally, we are capping and rounding the counter from time to time. We now precede the Groupon count with the word “over” to reflect that the actual number is always actually larger than what’s being displayed.

The company perkily says it doesn’t like people trying to guess how many deals it’s sold “for the same reason you probably wouldn’t like if people tried to guess your weight all day.”

Groupon has had a bad few months. It delayed its IPO, ran into trouble with the SEC for a self-congratulatory “internal memo” and for its accounting metrics, and lost its new COO back to Google (NSDQ: GOOG) after just five months. It is also facing two class action lawsuits. According to recent reports, though, it’s planning to go public late this month or early next month.