Who hasn't been duped by the fine print on a credit card ad or car commercial? The fact of the matter is that most of us don't have the time or eyesight required to read that tiny type. But the words generally convey a message that is required by law—including information on extra fees and clarification of misleading statements. Jean talks to Edgar Dworsky, founder of consumerworld.org, about why consumers need to take heed of fine print.
Here's a list of Edgar's major offenders and what he says consumers can do to keep informed:
- Toilet paper doesn't often drum up a "buyer beware" mentality. But Edgar says that the Scott brand, which boasts 1,000 sheets per role, achieved that mark by actually shortening the sheets, then adding texture so the rolls look bulky. So while the company boasts a long roll, it's actually shorter than before—by 300 inches, in fact.
- Packaged foods often cut the amount included, but keep the same size packaging—consumers who don't look carefully will never know the difference. Edgar says that both major mayonnaise brands recently downsized from 32oz to 30oz, but kept the same quart jars.
- Texting offers shown on TV almost always have fine print at the end. Unfortunately, it's up for only a second, which is not nearly enough time to read through it all. You're generally safe to assume that it is outlining additional charges, though. Edgar says this goes for both commercials and reality television shows that invite viewers to vote for their favorite competitor.
- Television ads rarely give you enough time to read the print, so be wary of all deals advertised. Edgar says that before taking the time to, say, go to the car dealer and take them up on that offer, call up or go online to do a little research.
In all cases, Edgar urges consumers to do their homework to find out if they're really getting the deal they think they are. If you don't have time to read the small print, you definitely don't have time to go all the way to the store or car lot—especially to find out that you were mislead.