Ads, Contracts and Fine Print

Small, hard to read print with many confusing words and details are popular marketing strategies in advertising, agreements and contracts. Hiding important information from a prospective buyer can complete a sale where there would not be one, and it can save a company money when consumer dissatisfaction arises later. In short, this sly business practice is to increase profits, and in a nasty way.

Notice: Important buyer information lies lurking
"Accepts no responsibility... Terms are for one year after which... Use of this product is entirely...
"Warranty does not include... Valid only with the activation of... Company reserves the right..."

Usually camouflaged in befuddling text there will be strict details explaining what you need to know, and if it was easier to read and understand you might likely walk away from the transaction.

That is why it is disguised and made fuzzy.

Ignoring these areas of a contract or promotion can be a regrettable and costly experience for the shopper when the new purchase is not at all as expected, or the warranty is void. Yet we so regularly do neglect reading those little words because it is just too difficult and time consuming.

This is yet another unfriendly and mean manner in which much of business is treating today's consumers. Fine print is appearing everywhere and is even standard practice in certain industries. Scammy marketing and foul treatment of customers is no longer a rarity. The dear valued customer has become the dear valuable scapegoat.

Again our governments are letting us down to the corporate advantage. So Consumer Beware!

Fine print is in print advertising, TV commercials, food package labels, information lists, customer contracts, and wherever there may be vital negative information to conceal. We should expect that if we do not read all or do not comprehend the transaction conditions, we will be helping the merchandiser to sell us a regrettable purchase, to increase markup, or save refund money after the sale is completed and complaints arise.

We have come to expect this business trickery in our everyday shopping and particularly with costlier transactions, but unfortunately we have become somewhat complacent when it comes to complaining. It is common for many consumers to accept and regret it, perhaps even feeling a bit embarrassed about getting trapped.

Or we might be furious when we get stung as we have with so many other shady retail transactions. But business does not seem too concerned about this reaction anymore, the use of deception in marketing is quite common and apparently acceptable.

So get out your magnifying glass and read the fine print slowly and watch for deceptive expressions; if you can it will be worthwhile.

Regrettably most of us won't take the trouble - it's just too annoying.

Fine print is sometimes so small that it simply cannot be read. The little text might also be in grey, the opposite of bold, and fuzzy to read, like the conditions on the back of my credit card statement. The words, "IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR ACCOUNT" are quite prominent. The gross account agreement is lengthy and takes up two sides of legal size pages and is printed in grey.

How obvious are their intentions?

Service contracts, credit agreements, insurance plans and 'too good to be true' ads need to be carefully scrutinized. If these promotions and documents are not easily understood consider an alternative. Like a credit union instead of a bank.

Some telecommunication advertisements have conditions at the bottom that are printed so small that it appears to be a joke. But nobody is laughing. The consumer would need to very carefully ask the right questions when dealing and hope to discover the traps before buying.

As long as business needs to sell to compete, and there are no strict guidelines to stop this type of marketing, expect that treatment of consumers will only worsen. When we get stung with inferior purchases or unexpected costs we simply lick our wounds, and do not complain. Because we do not complain fine print is common in business today and will likely be around for some time.

Perhaps our governments will get concerned. However if, as here in BC,
the marketing for their gambling revenue uses fine print
- Know your limit, Play within it - what should you really expect?

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