“These sites provide the opportunity to try new businesses at a discounted price,” says LSU AgCenter family economist Jeanette Tucker. “However, shoppers need to be sure they read the fine print on their deals and understand the sites’ terms of service agreements to avoid complications when they redeem their deal vouchers.”
The family economist says the following tips from www.USA.gov will help consumers better understand the daily deal sites so they can shop safely and enjoy the deals they purchase:
—Check the expiration and black-out dates. Most daily deals have expiration dates. Plan accordingly so you use your voucher before the deal expires. Make sure you check for blackout dates, too. Some of the popular vacation deals can only be redeemed during certain times of the year.
—Do your research. Spend five or 10 minutes reading reviews of the product or service you’re thinking about purchasing. If the company has a lot of bad reviews, you may want to skip the purchase, no matter how great the deal seems to be.
—Understand how you can use the deal. Some deals you can use more than once until the entire amount of the deal is gone, but other coupons you have to use all at once. In general, you can’t combine a daily deal with another coupon or promotion.
—Read the conditions of your specific deal before you buy. If you’ve read the fine print but still don’t understand everything, ask questions before you buy. Many of the daily deal sites have a frequently asked questions section or an area of the site where they handle questions about specific deals.
—Verify which locations accept your voucher. Some deals for chains are only valid at certain stores. Check to make sure the location closest to you is one of the participating stores; otherwise, you may have to go out of your way to use the deal.
—Know when your credit card will be charged. Some sites won’t charge you until after a certain number of deals have been purchased; other sites will charge you immediately or at the close of a business day. After you purchase a deal, keep an eye on your credit card statement to make sure you are charged correctly.
—Check the site’s refund policy. Some sites will refund your money if you are disappointed in a deal. Others will refund your money if a merchant goes out of business before your deal’s expiration date. Some won’t refund your money at all. Make sure you understand and are comfortable with a site’s refund rules before you make a purchase.
—Know whom to contact with problems. In most cases, the daily deal sites can’t help you solve problems with the company you bought the deal from. You will need to work with the company directly. If you have an issue, stay calm and state exactly what happened and how you would like the situation to be resolved.
For additional information on online shopping and daily deal sites, visit http://onguardonline.gov, the federal government’s website to help you be safe, secure and responsible online.