Beware of the Fine Print

Too many consumers don’t follow that old adage: “If it seems too good to be true, it usually isn’t.” Add to that that slogan “There’s a sucker born every minute” and you can realize how much profit the advertisers on radio and TV make. People forget that there really is nothing totally “free.” In fact, every time I see or hear that word “Free” the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

One ever-growing problem is the fine print of some TV ads, especially for mortgages and payday loans. Federal regulations insist on posting the full disclosure information in their ads. But have you ever tried to read that fine print? Even if you stop the TV picture, you’d need special magnifying glasses to read the hundreds of minuscule words printed there. Yes, the advertiser is following rules and regulations, but the consumer isn’t really able to make informed decisions about the offer because it flits by so quickly and in such small type, it is impossible to read and decipher.

Pharmaceutical ads now require disclaimers, but once you’ve seen some smiling newly-healthy actor on the screen, you tend to forget the potential side effects, even some serious enough to cause death. But all the while you see some inhaler or swallower of pills looking as if they never ever had a sick day in their lives.

Of course, the word “free” crops up often on TV and other media. But nothing is really free. For instance, that nationwide carpet seller who tells you in TV ads that if you buy carpets for two rooms, the rest of the rooms in your house get carpet free. Not so fast! The fine print tells you (if you could read it) you have to pay for padding and labor for ALL the rooms. And the offer is good only on so-called “selected carpeting.” In the long run, you may be paying as much a if you’d just paid for every room.

Then there are the household items and automobile appliances and other tchochkes. You’ll see one item extolled and then the price. Only $10 plus shipping and handling. “But wait!” If you order now, we’ll send a second tchachke absolutely FREE. Only pay for shipping and handling. Look at the fine print. S & H is 7.95! Yes, $7.95 for a ten dollar item. So you’re paying $17.95, PLUS another $7.95 for the “Free” addition: It’s almost Twenty-six dollars for a ten dollar advertised item plus a “free” one. Is it worth it? Obviously enough suckers are born to pay that exorbitant shipping and handling price. You can probably get something better made and longer-lasting in your local retail store.

See some actresses and so-called “chefs” produce all those wonde3rful foods on innovative cookware? Tempting, right? But those are trained professionals who tape their “results” until they come out picture perfect. Chances are whatever price you pay (plus shipping and handling) and you’ll never get the same luscious results. Furniture, cleaning products, clothing, food, medicines, jewelry, kitchen products, rugs and carpeting, used and new cars, insuranceâÂ?¦ name it, there’s a gimmick involved to get suckers to think they’re getting special bargains, or even, stuff “free.”

Read the fine print. Be skeptical. Don’t be “born again” as a consumer sucker. These marketers spend tens of thousands of dollars to make a profit from “free” stuff and shipping and handling additional costs. So, again, remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

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