How many of us actually read the ‘small print’ when signing documents? We are constantly warned that we should read the small print and perhaps many of us say that we do read it but the truth is most of us don’t read the small print! For the many people in debt and applying for loans it is important for them to take notice of the warning to be careful when signing for credit.
“Terms and Conditions Apply”
How many times have you heard the phrase “terms and conditions apply” only to have simply dismissed it? When did you last stop and take time to study the terms and conditions when signing up for something, usually something important?
The experiment to see how many people signed
A group of financial experts put their heads together and decided to conduct an interesting experiment in a shopping mall in the UK. They created a fake credit card number and made up all the advertising to go with it and then set up shop in a large shopping mall to see how easy it was to get people to sign up. They wanted to see how people reacted to the “small print” and to the “terms and conditions” The advertisements they created promoted all the perks in large, bold lettering on all the leaflets that they gave to the passersby. All the small print was conveniently printed at the bottom of the display posters and display stands as well as on the back of the pamphlets.
When something sounds “too good to be true” it just might be untrue
The fake credit cards offered and advertised an amazing deal: unbelievably low-interest rates of 0% on purchases and balance transfers, as well as the added bonus of offering cash-back.
What did the small print actually say? This is where it gets interesting. Our fake credit card offered an annual percentage interest rate or APR that is realistically competitive with other credit cards and actually rather a good deal at only 11.9%. However, if the participants had read the small print they would probably have discovered that they may not have been eligible to get the advertised rate, especially if their credit rating had any blemishes. In this case they would have found themselves paying a higher interest rate. In addition the “small print” would also have explained that the incredible interest rate didn’t apply across the board. It may have applied to purchasing, but when it came to balance transfers, cash withdrawals etcetera the supposed bargain of an interest rate suddenly jumped to a huge 34.9%.
The “small print” on the fake credit cards went on to state that even though the credit card enticed with interest free offers like an initial 9 months of balance transfers and a whole 13 months of spending without a pound spent on interest this wasn’t the whole story. By scrutinizing the back of the pamphlet participants would have seen that to be able to qualify for any of the advertised perks they would have to make all transfers within 20 days or otherwise pay 34.9% interest. Secondly, to be able to qualify for the 0% spending spree they would have to spend 2000 pounds in the first three months and finally to get their hands on that evocative 5% cash-back on everything they bought, they would have to buy at least 8000 pounds of merchandise each year.
While trying to sell the fake credit card to passing shoppers only a very few looked at the fine print. Many people said that they didn’t have the time to read through the long-winded small print and some said that they found ‘terms and conditions’ hard to comprehend. Needless to say most people signed up for the amazing “fake” deal.