August 19, 2006

Admirers of Fine Print

If there’s one thing I learned here in the US, it’s to read the fine print… on everything.

If you want what’s good for you, you should read the tiniest printed words not just on contracts, agreements, and disclaimers, but also on discount coupons, sales flyers, special offers, product labels, bills, notices, as well as posters, cards, and all your mail.

The main reason you must read the fine print (and that’s after you’ve checked the “Best Before,” “Valid,” and “Expires” dates) is to make sure your expectations are correct, especially when something looks too good to be true. You know what they say, “If it looks too good to be true, there’s a catch.”

For example, a credit card offer will put “No annual fee!” in bold letters, but the fine print will say that on top of the high interest rate, there’s a sign-up fee and a sell-your-soul list of other fees and charges.

Notice how car commercials on TV scream “THE BEST DEAL IN TOWN!” but in very small print, which flashes on the screen on the millisecond that you decide to blink, will effectively say, “Restrictions apply,” which, for all intents and purposes, actually means “none of you will qualify.”

Just a few days ago, I came across these too-good-to-be-true eye catchers:

with the purchase of a family meal
(Poster at Boston Market)

wrapping everyday
(Sign at Bealls)

2nd Pizza of Equal or Lesser Value
(Domino’s Gift Certificate)

Since I started on a mission to read all the fine print on anything I buy, use, consume, or even consider taking into my scheme of things, I’ve become familiar with these:

“Void where prohibited by law.”
“Subscription will be renewed automatically unless you cancel.”
“Limited time offer.”
“Consumers with food allergies, please read the ingredient statement carefully.”
“Heating times are approximate.”
“Consuming raw or uncooked meats may increase your risk of foodborne illness.”
“Only at participating locations. Not valid with other offers. Delivery areas and charges may vary. One coupon per order. No double toppings.”
“These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
“Any other use constitutes fraud.”

And the most popular clincher: “Individual results may vary.”

To cap this off, here’s what I found when I signed up with a Feedburner email subscription:

"For admirers of fine print, we also offer the following details:
The publisher of the site you have subscribed to uses FeedBurner to deliver email subscriptions. FeedBurner's Terms of Service govern this subscription service. This subscription is a relationship between the publisher and you, the subscriber; the publisher will have access to their complete mailing list should they decide to stop using FeedBurner and move to another service. FeedBurner provides email delivery service to the publisher; it will never sell email addresses, share email addresses or send any other email to the email address. FeedBurner never liked that, and never will. Nice FeedBurner."

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