Two small Halifax area companies say they were left struggling to pay their bills after a messy situation with a group coupon selling company.

Teambuy is an online company whose business model is based on group purchases to get deals at local retailers.

In June, the company advertised a bargain price for a manicure and pedicure at Glamorous Nails in Hammonds Plains.

"My book is always full and it’s always full of Teambuy clients, which was supposed to be a good thing," said Tenesha Stillman, owner of Glamorous Nails.

Under the agreement, Teambuy keeps a percentage of the money and sends the rest to the company it has partnered with in the deal.

But when pay day came, Stillman said the money didn't arrive.

"‘Oh we're going to sell your tickets, so you initially don't pay for marketing upfront,’" Stillman said she was told. "But then if they don't pay me, I'm doing clients for free."

This wasn't just about being paid to do a service, Stillman needs $600 a month to pay for supplies. She also couldn't cover rent.

"If I didn't have the family and friends, my dad and my husband to bail me out for these bills, yes, I would've lost my business four weeks ago," she said.

Better Business Bureau complaints

Teambuy is in the middle of a merger with another site, Dealfind.

A message to CBC from the company's CEO said the problem is because of the integration of the two companies.

But Glamorous Nails isn't the only business in Halifax with concerns.

"The representative he call me and tell me don't worry, in 15 days your money will be there. [I haven't received any money from Teambuy]," said Abdul Kadersadieh, owner of Chef Abod Cafe and Catering in Halifax.

Kadersadieh was hoping to increase his customer base through exposure from the online deal.

But he said he hasn't seen a cent from Teambuy — which sold coupons for his food two months ago.

Kadersadieh, like Stillman, was forced to turn away customers with coupons because he couldn't afford to keep feeding people for free.

"The customer, they are frustrated and they are not happy at all," he said.

On Friday, Stillman received closure. A representative from Teambuy called her and said the money has been sent.

Stillman hopes other small businesses take note of her situation and ask lots of questions before signing up for a similar deal.

These problems come as no surprise to the Better Business Bureau.

Group coupon buying was one of their top ten scams last year. The BBB has received more than 100 complaints about Teambuy alone.

"There's a lot of concern by consumers that they're not getting what they paid for or they're having a hard time getting in touch with the companies. or they're not being able to get the service that was promised and so on. So it's become a bit of a concern," said Don MacKinnon, with BBB Atlantic.  

BBB recommends checking its website to see if there are any concerns about other group coupon companies.