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Fine Print

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After returning from a fabulously indulgent all-inclusive vacation in Mexico last month, I can’t stop fantasizing about what’s next.  Of course my inbox is no help.  Every day there’s some new promotion- hot summer sale, 24-hour madness,  $99 deals!  While I haven’t taken the time to do the smart thing and unsubscribe, I have clicked on some of the promos out of sheer curiosity and a penchant for daydreaming.

There was one promo in particular that I couldn’t get over, a six night all-inclusive with airfare for less than $700 per person.  Sound too good to be true?  Well, it is.  In the fine print of the resorts’ website is a tiny notice about the ongoing construction on site.  Imagine arriving at your beach oasis ready to relax and listening to drilling all day- woof.

As tedious as it is to do the extra research and comb through the fine print, those details can totally change what you think you’re getting into.

Check Exclusions and Expiration’s

Exclusions and expiration’s contribute to the 20% of Groupons that go unused.  Don’t waste your money by buying a deal whose fine print makes it unusable for your circumstances.  For example, if you’re traveling the country, savvily using Groupon to find deals at local restaurants, you may be shit out of luck if you wind up purchasing a deal that’s only good Monday – Friday and you’re only in town for the weekend.

Make Note of Add-ons

Before committing to anything, be it an all-inclusive vacation or a bank account, make note of what’s not included.  For instance, with the bank account, you’d think getting your paper statements would come standard, but many institutions now charge for this seemingly basic service.  Airlines are also add on masters- from baggage, to early boarding, to an extra inch of legroom, know what “luxuries” will cost you extra.  It may make the difference in the flight you choose in the first place.

Mark Your Calendar

Promotions are temporary, whether it’s a free trial or an introductory interest rate, it won’t last forever.  Read the fine print to know what happens once the promotional period is over.  Will you be automatically renewed and charged?  Will you get hit with massive interest rates on anything you haven’t paid off?  By knowing what to expect and planning for it, you won’t be caught off guard by an unexpected charge on your credit card statement.

Check For Punctuation

An asterisk is almost never a good sign.  If you see some unbelievable deal being advertised in big bold letters and tiny, practically unreadable text underneath, make it a point to get up close and personal to see what it says.    Check out this fun article from ABC news to see if you can spot the fine print in the various ad examples.

Know When to Read It

While I am totally guilty of scrolling down to the bottom of the iTunes agreement and clicking accept without reading a word, I would not advocate for such carelessness when approaching important contracts like credit cards, insurance, and major loans.  In some cases, it might even pay to hire a lawyer to double check the fine print for you.

Has glazing over the fine print ever bit you in the rear?