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Due diligence, day in and day out

There are many sales techniques that are (at least in general) not fraudulent, but they are (by design) a way to squeeze more money. The result is always the same: when you go to the cash register to settle up your service/purchase bill, the amount is more than you expected.

Example One: My daughter, Kimberly, (she’s grown up with a mother who rants and raves about “fraud this, fraud that,”) tends to be more aware than most young adults.

Last week she drove into a local franchise of a national oil change business and brought in her coupon for a $25 oil change. After the service was complete, the charge was $63. Why?

They’d told her she needed special “blended oil” (a bump up), then failed to credit her for the regular oil they did not use, threw in the cost of rags used and a few more useless add-ons, and in effect upped their advertised price by 250 percent.

Example Two: Some restaurants do NOT offer assumed free drink refills.If the menu does not specifically SAY they are free, they may not be. It’s a hot day and iced tea is a great cooler-downer.

You and your partner each get two refills and are surprised when the drink portion of your bill is $15 rather than $5.

Watch out for these phrases because they always cost you money: “You want fries with that?” “Want to super-size that?” “Would you like us to deliver this new refrigerator and remove your old one?” (Double whammy. Delivery charge may apply and removal charge may also apply.)

Example Three: Credit card come-ons. “Never a late fee,” “Low introductory interest rate,” “No first year annual fee,” “Zero interest for six months.” The same type of warning — study before you order — can apply to those terrific new car ads you see. “2014 Chevy, Dodge, Nissan, Kia, (whatever) for $109 a month.”

Bottom line, READ THE SMALL PRINT. On anything and everything you purchase, before you sign on the dotted line. Know exactly what you are buying and exactly how much your final bill will be.

Example Four: Oh oh. Casino Promotions. These are great fun until a problem arises. When that happens, one must obey the small print. “The Casino has the final word. The Casino can change the rules at any time etc.”

There are some fun activities out there, but read the rules and ask the questions before the fact. A friend of mine won a $25,000 new car OR $15,000 cash. That car was shiny red and alluring, but in the end she was far better off with the cash.

Example Five: The very words “Guarantee” or “Warranty” are red flags. Know what they include/exclude. An after the fact, “but I thought that …” is going to get you nowhere fast. Read before you buy. If you need a magnifying glass to make out the words, that’s all the more reason to read every single tiny letter.

It’s not Sunday. I don’t mean to preach.

My messages here are a reflection of world we live in — everybody is out to make a buck and sometimes honesty, fairness and straight dealing get lost in the process. It boils down to that same old TANSTAAFL.

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

Drop by the Pahrump Valley Times offices, 2160 E. Calvada Blvd., for a copy of Leslie Kim’s latest book “123 Main Street … the Scamming of America.” Only $19.95 while supplies last.

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