Are you planning to take out a loan?
Have you signed a credit card application?
Bought an investment product such as a mutual fund, stocks or bonds?
Signed up for a new service?
Or even purchased a software product?
Each of the above products or services requires you to agree to a specific set of terms and conditions which governs the rules and regulation of the contract between you and the seller or the company.
It usually comes in the form of a “fine print”.
Most of the times it happens that you tend to overlook the “fine print” or never care to read even a single line of it.
Well, the truth is that you are at a great disadvantage when you do not go through the fine prints of your contract with your seller.
In fact, the fine print or the disclosures specifies the boundaries and do’s and don’ts of a contract that you have signed with a company. The fine print or the contract terms and conditions can be given to you in the form of papers or it can be even in a digitized format. It can be a loan agreement document, investment document, an account opening application, insurance contract, or even when you make an online purchase of software, application or product.
Let us take some simple examples to illustrate the role played by the fine prints.
Suppose, for example, you have purchased a mutual fund. Not satisfied by its returns, you decided to close down your mutual fund, but when you got your back your invested amount, you saw that a substantial amount was deducted.
What’s the reason behind this?
Well, it was actually explicitly mentioned in the agreement (was written in fine prints) that a closure charge will be applicable if you close your mutual fund within the first year of operation. As you had not read this statement when you signed up for the mutual fund, you were taken up by a surprise.
Another very common example relates to credit cards application. Whenever you sign up for a credit card, you should always read its terms and conditions that come in fine print. However, when you get your credit card bill you are surprised to see the heavy charges and interest levied on your credit card usage. That’s because you have not read the terms and conditions of usage. The fine print had explicitly mentioned the interest rates and charges applicable on your credit card.
Here, I would like to give you one more example showing you the role played by the fine prints. Suppose, you have booked a hotel room and while checking out find that you have been billed for one extra day. When you ask the clarifications for this, the hotel manager simply says that you are billed for one extra day because you checked out two hours after the usual and specified checking out time. The fine print already specified the checking out time and stated that if you vacated your room after the set checking out time you would be also billed for one more day. You paid this price simply because you did not happen to read the fine print.
Now, there can be numerous such occasions when you were at a disadvantageous situation because you didn’t read the fine print. This itself brings out the importance of reading the fine print.
So, before taking up the importance of reading the fine print, it becomes significant that why most of us do not read the fine print. Well, the biggest reason for this is the fact that most fine prints are too lengthy and run into several pages. There are so many points that you simply do not take the pain of reading them.
Secondly, the fine prints are ambiguously worded too complicated to be comprehended. You are confused and do not get clarity of what is written in the fine prints.
Thirdly, most of us are in such a haste of buying the product or service, and we just cannot look beyond this. You think, “I like the product, I know its features so what’s the need of going through the fine print”. You never go in the details and ignore to read the fine print.
By now you would have understood what fine prints are and what the implications of not reading the fine prints. I now highlight the importance of reading the fine print to you.
Fine Prints cover every detail of the contract: The fine prints specify the boundaries of your contract with the seller. In fact, it covers each and every detail of the contract. So, if the company has not listed in the fine prints, it will simply not do the thing for you. So if the fine print says that the insurance covers you for a period of five years, it will provide the insurance cover for a period of five years and not more than that.
The Hidden points get discovered: This is particularly for the investments products as well as for credit cards. In such instruments, there are various hidden charges which can only be discovered if you read the fine prints. The fine prints disclose all the hidden charges that are associated with a product or service such as investment instruments or credit cards. So, if you want clarity on the hidden charges always make a point to read the fine prints. Moreover, you should acquaint yourself with all the hidden charges applicable on your investment product before signing the agreement.
Terms and Conditions get clarified: There are various terms and conditions of which you do not get clarity while speaking to a sales person or on seeing an advertisement. The best things to do is to read the terms and conditions specified in the fine prints or disclosure. Once you read the fine prints and seek clarification based on it, all the doubts and confusion get vanished from your mind. You can then decide whether to buy that product or another one instead.
You get to know what sort of after sales service you would get: Reading the fine print is important for getting after sales service. It is important to know what sort of after sales service you would get once you have purchased a product. The fine print details the points related to after sales service, and so if you read it you get to know what after sales service you can expect from the seller. If you are not satisfied with the level of after sales services as promised by the seller, helps you in deciding whether to file suit against contractor or firm.
Cancellation or Refund Terms and Conditions: Sometimes it may happen that you do not like the product or service you purchased. In such conditions, you need to be aware of the cancellation or refund terms and conditions. These are explicitly stated in the fine prints or disclosures. Reading the fine print you get to know whether the company honors cancellation or refund.
You know your rights: The fine prints disclose your rights as a buyer. So make sure you read the terms and conditions written in fine prints.
So you see reading the fine print is very much important for you as a buyer. So you should never skip reading the fine print. It is for your own benefit. You should not merely sign an agreement. Rather make sure that you have read the fine prints before signing on the terms and conditions. It may take some minutes, but it will ultimately be for your own good. You would not end up in a messy situation once you have read the terms and conditions listed in fine prints.