Too good to be true?

Daily-deal websites offer great prices, but always read the fine print

Nothing is more disappointing to a bargain hunter than getting burned by a so-called deal, and with recent legal woes (Groupon settled 17 class-action lawsuits in April) an experienced bargainsita can’t help but wonder if daily offerings from companies such as AmazonLocal and LivingSocial are truly a steal or just a waste of money. Not only does one chance misleading expiration dates, but also takes a risk on a participating merchant who may not be able to handle the influx of new customers. If you’re thinking twice before clicking “buy,” here are a few things to consider before purchasing a daily-discount coupon:

• Know the refund policy before you purchase. Some companies allow you to cancel your order within a certain time frame, while others will give you credit toward the purchase of another voucher if you’re unsatisfied with your initial purchase.

• Note the expiration date, especially when it comes to vacation packages. Groupon states a purchase-by expiration date plus a stay-by expiration date. LivingSocial, however, has been known to list only one date, so contact the company.

• Sweat the small stuff. Blackout dates and other exclusions often apply to the voucher.

• If all else fails, rely on the Better Business Bureau (BBB). A calm attempt to resolve your issues with the customer-service department is always best, but if that doesn’t work, file a complaint. It’s amazing how quickly a daily-deal company will satisfy your concerns to keep your complaint under wraps.