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Uh Oh. I Didn't Read the Small Print

“Terms and Conditions”—There’s a 21st Century phrase for you. Some online agreements won’t let you sign up until you scroll through pages of “Terms and Conditions.” Who can read all that verbage?

Like most of you, I usually just give a cursory read-through before my eyes glaze over at the legal gibberish. But recently I was glad I took time to read the “Terms and Conditions.”

Yes, I watched a buying channel on TV (I was just waiting for the news to come on, that’s my excuse.) Being “of a certain age,” this particular miracle wrinkle cream was of interest to me, and the spokeswomen were credible. Plus, I could try the product for only $29.95. Plus, if I called in the next thirty minutes I would get free shipping. Well, it sounded too good to be true, but what did I have to lose? They were practically giving this stuff away.

So I dug out my credit card and went online to make a purchase. But the buy could not be completed without the dreaded “Terms and Conditions.” So I scrolled through them. And, to my surprise, I saw this was just the first month of miracle cream. I was signing up for a subscription service and would receive future shipments every month “at the low price of $59.95” each month.

How do they get away with these shenanigans? “Cancel at any time.” I’ll just bet they make that easy. Thankfully, I read the small print and the news came on, so I was no longer tempted. Of course, now everywhere I go on the computer I am stalked by come-ons for this cream. Once you’ve shown an interest, they’ve got you, no matter how many cookies you delete.

During the commercial break, another enticing ad appeared. One hundred people were needed to try out the latest and greatest hearing aid. And, because I am “of a certain age,” I know my hearing isn’t what it used to be. The ad used the magic words, “Free trial!” Could it be? Was this really a legitimate opportunity to test a hearing aid at no cost to me?

I watched the entire ad and it was tempting. Even more so as the ad aired again three or four times in the following two hours. Luckily, however, each time the persuasive gentleman appeared I read more of the small print at the bottom of the ad. And finally, I saw the catch.

“Restocking fees will apply.” You know what that means. If you decide not to buy from this particular company, they will charge you to put the hearing aids back on their shelves. And, they don’t tell you what the fee is. One hundred dollars? Two hundred dollars?

Reading the small print is like putting money back into your own pocket.

How about you? Have you been scammed when you didn’t read the small print? Or did reading carefully save you a pretty penny?

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