December 4, 2013 | Volume 100 / Number 49

Just Say It Like It Is

As I lay napping in my recliner the other evening with the TV on, I was rudely awakened by this loud obnoxious announcer guy trying to make me believe – in a raucous voice better suited to be announcing the Friday Night cage fights – that "Sellum, Bilkum and Cheetum" was the only auto dealer in the world from which (whom?) to buy a new car.

He promised “thousands of dollars in instant cash rebates, no financing charges for the next millennium”, and I thought I heard mention of a free glow-in-the-dark Hula Hoop with every pickup purchase. But maybe I just imagined that part ... or did I?

Seems these days, companies will promise anything in their advertisements to get you to buy their product. Buy one get one free gimmicks, mail in rebates – which go in my file of all time un-favorites – cash incentives, glorious weekend getaway vacations, a free puppy and whooda thunk it, a free pop-up toaster.

What about the guy who talks a mile a minute with a disclaimer that tells the real story, but who can understand him? And what's with all that unreadable gibberish at the bottom of the page or on TV? Who reads that stuff? Who CAN read it? And what does it all mean?

I'll tell you what it means.

It says, in lawyer-ese, that all you have read in the large print or heard with your very own "hears" is pure Double D Bull! It says “Ya gotta read the fine print, Sonny, to get the real Rest of the Story. And in most cases the fine print is the killer.

That's where you find all the “therefores,” “where-ofs,” therebys” and “whatnots” that almost completely negate the feel good, warm-fuzzy commercial you just read or heard.

It's the harsh reality friends and you had best get out your Genuine Dick Tracy Spy Glass and Decoder Ring and peruse the fine print before you sign on the dotted line.

And have you ever REALLY read all the fine print in the “You have been Pre-Approved” credit card applications every one of us gets in the mail? Yikes! Nightmare on Credit Street!

I sent a credit card pre-approved application back to the company with the words “You gotta be Kidding! Have YOU read the Fine Print? Would YOU agree to this?” written in large Magic Marker.

I haven't received another application from that particular company for at least two years.

I tried Free Credit Report.com ( “Get your Free credit report Free”) only to find that the word “Free” does not actually apply.

See, here's how that particular scam works. After you have punched in all the required info including your hat size and the number of dead house plants in your home, and have hit the “continue” button, up comes this screen that reads, “Your account will be charged a returnable fee of one dollar if you wish to continue.”

(In a fit of total mental collapse I typed in my debit card number. I guess you could say I'm related to that famous writer of “The Count of Monte Cristo,”,Alexander Dumass. Pronounced Dewmaw, according to Alex Trebek, but in my case he could be wrong).

The dollar fee enabled me to “be eligible” to read my full credit report and score, all I had to do was give them another (non-refundable) $17.85.

At this point I declined and escaped from their web page.

A few days later I had occasion to check my bank account and found that not only had they absconded with the refundable' dollar, but they had also stolen the non-refundable $17.85 that I had not authorized.

After 45 minutes on the phone trying to understand what foreign accent I was trying to understand, I finally got them to credit my account with both the $1 AND the non-refundable $17.85.

I guess that old adage “the squeaky wheel gets the worm” really works.

That's it for now folks. Thanks for listening.

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