My wife and I have been getting all of our affairs in order, laying out a budget and what-not with the move and the new apartment. It’s been a lot to keep track with, considering we’ve never had utility bills and my new job’s benefits require a lot of initial bookkeeping. Despite the fact that we’ve had two months to get it all done, we’re by no means finished getting everything straightened out.
It was during the course of straightening out our finances that I’ve come to loath fine print thievery. It’s not a term in popular use, at least not to my knowledge, but I’m sure the meaning is pretty clear. Retailers and businesses are well aware that most consumers, my wife and myself included, rarely read through the fine print. I’m convinced that they make it as long, complicated, and full of legalese as possible in order to reinforce that. It’s a fact that, more often than not, they can exploit to their advantage.
We had two incidents of fine print thievery happen to us in the same day. The first originated from my former employers, who just can’t seem to cease being a headache. My wife had joined the company gym several months back. The contract was supposed to be for a brief period of time. Logically, one would expect that, after the time elapsed, we would need to renew for her membership to continue. The contract, however, stipulated that written notification was required to terminate membership.
Of course, I admit that I should have been more cognizant of the conditions of the contract and of my credit card statements. As you might have guessed, they’ve been billing us for membership at a gym that we haven’t used in months. I can’t begin to describe how deeply I hate this sort of thing. Fine print and legal trickery is all a business has to do to perform what I would essentially describe as theft. It comes as no surprise to me, of course, that my former employers engage in this sort of thing, as it would be only one item in a long list of questionable business practices.
The second incident we encountered was a matter of blatant misrepresentation in advertising. My wife purchased a new cell phone, which was advertised and expected to come with a decent amount of free air time. When it arrived, the air time card was nowhere to be found. On further inspection, my wife discovered how she had been duped, all thanks to a line of fine print stating the additional requirements for the free air time. Nevermind that she bought the phone directly from the advertisement.
I could go on ad nauseum about how infuriated we’ve been over things like this. Like most negative life events, there’s little to do but salvage what you can and try to learn from the mistake. It’s a shame that consumers live in a predatory market environment like this, and that we must be paranoid and scrutinize even the finest detail to figure out what we’re actually buying. I, for one, have learned a valuable if tragic lesson. Never trust salesmen, as they’re more often than not out to exploit you.