You might think that Groupon’s "Deal Counter" display would exist to show exactly how many customers had purchased a particular deal on offer from the site, but apparently, you’d be wrong.
In a blog post this weekend, Groupon revealed that it is purposefully fudging the numbers in order to prevent people from making "consistently incorrect" estimates of the company’s sales. Because, you know, that’s much easier than just removing the Deal Counter altogether.
"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," the blog revealed, adding that the site is also "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 new counter is there to confound those who used the old counter to estimate Groupon sales, which the company didn’t like "for the same reason you probably wouldn’t like if people tried to guess your weight all day." I know that I hate it when people underestimate my weight by millions of dollars, so I guess I can concede that point.
"This change is meant to continue to reflect deal popularity while making it clearly impossible to predict our sales," the blog explained, adding that the company was "blogging about it to be transparent about our lack of transparency." Except, of course, now that we know that the results are purposefully untrue, why should anyone assume that the Deal Counter is only ever altered downwards? This is really a case of honesty about dishonesty not really being the best policy after all.
Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.