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A friend of mine bought something on Groupon, and received a mail about how to use the voucher.

It says:

  1. Open the pdf file attachment
  2. Print voucher
  3. Take note of the fine print
  4. Redeem your voucher

The 1 and 2 are obvious, and 4 seems obvious as well, but what does the 3 mean?

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2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

It means look out for any conditions, restrictions, limitations etc.

"Fine print" refers to any kind of legalese that may be part of a contract or offer, usually written at the bottom in small letters (in hopes that the consumer will overlook it).

Example for a coupon:

Must be redeemed by 3/10/2011. Minimum purchase $50. Not valid for beverages. Cannot be combined with other offers.

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So for ordinary users, just print and use? –  user3812 Feb 28 '11 at 13:17
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Yes, but keep in mind, the voucher may have limitations such as an expiration date or minimum purchase. –  The English Chicken Feb 28 '11 at 13:22
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@Dante: the fine print is there for all users, ordinary or not. It can be perilous to ignore it in general, and even more so if the instructions clearly state that you should be taking note. –  RegDwigнt Feb 28 '11 at 13:31
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It's probably useful to note that fine in this sense does not mean "of superior quality, skill, or appearance". Instead it welds two other meanings together:

2 Very small in size, weight, or thickness

and, in my opinion,

6 Exhibiting careful and delicate artistry

In the main "fine print" refers to the smallness of the type used, but whether by coincidence or sardonic intent the "careful and delicate artistry" certainly applies, as a great deal of careful and delicate lawyerly craft goes into it. Note that I'm not necessarily equating "lawyerly" with "duplicitous" or "evil" here, but many people would. Lawyers have to draw very "fine" distinctions in every contract they write, and the terms of a contract are what you are agreeing to in the example you cite.

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Or, as they say, 95% of lawyers give all lawyers a bad name... –  SWeko Feb 28 '11 at 14:00
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@SWeko: And then there's the old joke: "Q. How can you tell a lawyer is lying? A. You can see his lips moving." Please note for the record that I am just reporting what I've heard, not making a statement of my own about the fine legal profession itself, which is exceeded only by politics in probity and moral righteousness. –  Robusto Feb 28 '11 at 14:11
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