Don’t Buy the Deal if You Can’t ‘Eat’ the Meal…

I just read an article in the Boston Business Journal about a lawsuit against online shopping site RueLaLa. The plaintiff claims that the online deals offered, which have expiration dates, violate the same laws that govern gift certificates, which means they either should not expire or they should have expiration dates far into the future. This is based on legal action that was previously taken against Groupon and some others.I am not a lawyer (although we do represent some very excellent attorneys, and I am married to an attorney, and I do understand why and how these lawsuits happen). But while I am no attorney, I am an avid RueLaLa customer, and have been since its earliest days. I love the user-friendly site, online deals and the convenience of choosing to purchase quality brands I know and like, at a discount. And it is made very clear, and thus I understand, that there are limits both on the length of time products are available (and even within that time frame, they may sell out) and on the experiential items’ (trips, dining, spa services) parameters.It’s simple to click on the details and see that a trip might have blackout dates or have to be completed by a certain time. OK, if I purchase that trip (and my husband once bought us a great Dominican Republic vacation on RueLaLa), it is clear to me that I must abide by the rules on the details page.  Is that any different than buying a non-refundable airline ticket through another seller? If I buy a restaurant promotion, I need to abide by those rules too, which may mean it is for a limited time.  Is that any different than knowing I can only walk in to my local restaurant and order the early bird special if it is before prime dining hours (for the record, I am still far too young to go for the early bird special). Furthermore, if I buy a bathing suit that is deemed final sale at a brick and mortar (or even online shopping) store, and then find it doesn’t fit because I ate too much ice cream (I am kind of worried I have been eating too much ice cream lately), that’s my problem. I knew the rules and took a chance that it would work out. To me, that’s no different than accepting the rules on the experiential offerings.Sometimes in life, things don’t work out. Despite that, sometimes you gamble that they will, and you lose. And sometimes you give a little to get a little…knowing there are no free lunches.  So if a deal is incredible, maybe the trade-off is there are parameters around when and how you can use that “too good to pass up” deal.  If you can’t live by those parameters, pass it up, for crying out loud.  Don’t blame RueLaLa.It’s simple.  Before you click “purchase,” ask yourself two questions: 1)Am I really going to be able to use this within the parameters that exist, and 2)If I cannot use it after I’ve purchased it, can I deal with just “taking it as a loss?”  If your answer to either of those questions is no, and no one is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to purchase, then just don’t buy the item.  Easy as pie. (I may have been eating a little too much pie lately, too.)And if you haven’t guessed, yes, I think people need to take personal responsibility for decisions like these that are common sense. No one forces you to buy a restaurant promotion, or a non-refundable airline ticket.  And by the way, that cup of coffee from McDonalds? I strongly believe that you shouldn’t need a printed warning on the cup to remind you that the hot coffee you just chose to order is indeed hot.Ruelala

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