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  • Writer's pictureAngela Shupe

Did You Read The Small Print?

Stop for a moment and consider the last advertisement you read. What were the guidelines for that promotion they offered? Or, do you only remember the offer itself?

Small print in advertising is everywhere.

I recently had a scuffle with the customer service side of a company that used their small print to pull out of their agreement for a $250 credit on choosing their service. I did everything required to acquire the credit. Then I upgraded my service because I liked the company.

The ad said I would get a $250 credit. The small print, as I later found, said it would be at increments of $10 a month. I decided since I would be with them a while, I would upgrade. It meant locking me in with them, but I liked the service. Once I was locked in, they pulled the credit because I upgraded.

This company saved themselves $220 in promised credits to my account, despite my meeting the requirements, by using small print that was not overly obvious.

Small print in advertising is legal. It is why we get the tiniest printed warnings in drug ads or the astrick next to a deal in an online graphic promoting a free phone. We know there is more to read, without knowing what it is supposed to be. It allows the hook to grab us with the guise of, "But we did say... this is your fault, not ours."

I hate small print. I believe it ruins the credibility of a company as a whole. It tells your customer base you don't care about them, just your bottom line. If you can hook them with overused language to sell your product, you make money while they unknowingly lose out on the offer if they dare add to the agreement later. Salesmanship through entrapment.

In my experience, clear language is the way to go. I love being upfront in business. I am an honest person. I believe my honesty will generate credibility in business and eventually success. Small print may make it easier to draw in more sales, but customers will not be as happy when they find out you just hooked them for a quick sale, not for long-term customer-business relationships.

Credibility matters. Word of mouth matters. Not just sales.

My hope is that your takeaway from this is to offer clarity in your business.

I will continue to offer clarity in mine.

Angela, Owner of Angela J Shupe Freelance Services LLC

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