Squaremouth in the News

Washington Post, July 3 2019 – Read the fine print before you travel

Washington Post, July 3 2019 – Read the fine print before you travel

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For some travel companies, the fine print is part of the business model. As they teach you in consumer advocacy school, the large print giveth and the small print taketh away. (Tom Waits sang about it, too.) Simply put, travel companies make more money when they slip a term into the fine print that makes your airfare nonrefundable or add a mandatory tip to your cruise ticket.

But some travel businesses — the ones caught between the consumers and the companies — are tired of the confusion. So earlier this year, the travel insurance website Squaremouth.com decided to do something about it. The company inserted a notification at the end of its contracts, giving $10,000 to the first person to read to the end.

Squaremouth estimates that fewer than 1 percent of travelers who buy travel insurance read all of their policy information. “We’re working to change that,” Squaremouth CEO Chris Harvey told me.

Harvey expected the contest to last a year. But Donna Andrews, a high school teacher from Thomaston, Ga., discovered the contest in less than 24 hours and won. I asked her why, and she said it was a habit. A self-described “nerd” who keeps a file with all of her contracts, she says she’s done that since studying consumer economics at the University of Georgia.

“I always fully read contracts before signing to ensure I know what is covered and what is not,” she adds.

Maybe there’s a lesson in there for the rest of us. “Gotchas” infest virtually all travel contracts. If you don’t want to get ripped off, you have to follow Andrews’ example. Make a habit of reading the entire contract — unless you like surprises.

Read the full Washington Post article online here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/read-the-fine-print-before-you-travel/2019/07/03/102a0342-977b-11e9-8d0a-5edd7e2025b1_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.bd266ee66055