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To avoid regret, be sure to read the terms of any voucher deal BEFORE you buy

Posted by Mitch Lipka  November 7, 2011 09:49 PM

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Q. I purchased a voucher from Travelzoo for a spa treatment for my wife at a hotel in California. She planned to use it during our visit to LA in June 16-23. She called on June 16 and was told that the earliest she could use the voucher was July 1. Unfortunately, we were departing from LA before that date so we could not use it. Travelzoo informed us that they would not issue a refund because it was outside the seven-day refund policy. Our feeling is that Travelzoo has reneged in that did not state in their offer that we had to be subjected to the spa’s availability.
Jefferson Breen, Sutton

A. I really wanted to help here. I take a lot of pleasure and helping consumers get refunds. But this was a longshot.

“Unfortunately, it seems Mr. Breen had a limited window to use the deal,” Travelzoo Marketing Director Christie McConnell said. “Travelzoo clearly explains all policies in each deal – including the refund policy and that deals are subject to availability and/or selling out quickly.”

And, there you have it, shot down by policy.

The fact is that many of us tune out these policies and disclaimers. If the spa was here in Massachusetts, you would have had flexibility to take the availability that was offered. But fitting something into a tight window was pretty risky – as is now apparent.

To get a deal like that, there are going to be conditions. The idea is you pay a fraction of the regular price upfront and then have a period of time to use the voucher. You actually have to use it to make it a good deal. I still have on my bulletin board that I swear I’ll use any day now.

One thing to keep in mind with the vouchers is that, for the most part, they retain the original value of what you paid. So, if you paid $10 for $20 worth of whatever, it should still be worth $10, even if you allowed the deal to expire. The bottom line, though, is to know the risks of the deal upfront. And, if you absolutely can’t use your voucher, there is a secondary market that could help you recoup your investment.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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About the author

Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs TheConsumerChronicle.com. He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at ConsumerNews@Aol.com

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