676 The Fine Print
Those of us accused of having too much time on our hands have found yet a new way to use it, reading the fine print. It can be instructive, though often its purpose is de-struction. Some examples yanked more or less randomly from the torrent of ads and mail that pours upon us:
How about that Jitterbug cell phone for oldies. Cheap rates, no contracts and "operators who greet you by name" when you call them. The fine print: You pay for the operator-called minutes, and they charge you for another five minutes beyond the length of the call. They never say the service is free. But neither do they make a big production out of telling you that it costs.
Thinking about buying gold? You'll find dozens of beautiful websites inviting you to get rich, and dozens of endorsements, mostly from right wing talk show hosts. If you look really really close, you will find a link to their disclaimer, which no one can understand, but which covers their backsides thoroughly in case you find out that buying gold is not always as remunerative as the main page leads you to believe. (See Wessay #661 for a review of Jim Kingsland's book on the subject.)
Then there are the identity theft protectors. The fine print there is so fine that one of those outfits got busted and fined for scare tactics and inflated promises.
And there are the guys who tell you you can back up all your computer files so that when your hard drive crashes, you'll have the stuff available. They don't mention how long the initial backup takes and they remind you in the fine print that they save only "your" files, not those you've licensed from, say Apple or Microsoft or anyone else.
The cold "remedies" and "preventives?" Their claims are so vague you really don't know what they say.
Auto warranties? The fine print and exclusions and exceptions go on forever.
Have you read your homeowner's or auto insurance policies? Maybe some day the Rosetta Stone language folks will come up with a program to translate. But you can be sure the adjuster knows what the policies say. Just try making a claim.
Seen the newly mandated credit card statements? In a burst of clarity, they tell you how long it'll take you to pay off the debt. But they don't remind you that that figure will change every time you use the card. It might be there somewhere. But that print's so fine, no one of an age to use a Jitterbug phone has the eyes to read it.
I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you're welcome to them.®