Friday, December 17, 2004

Fine Prints

There are many things in life that we take for granted because we assume that it is an expected norm. In the real world however there is always the fine print in every norm which we may have overlooked. To assume things is dangerous, because although it may not cost us our lives, it can cost our lifelihood and hurt our pockets!

In advertisements and contracts, we often see the fine print that state "conditions apply" or sometimes, terms that may not be prominently defined. We don't usually pay attention to them, but we often go ahead with the use of whatever the product or service is offered, and before long (sometimes, too long), we realise our bills have accumulated a substantial sum.

Many of us pay the price for assuming. We assume the things that should be bundled with a service or a product, but the providers presume we know that the extras are not included. We assume extras in a service or product are not included, but we later discover premium services we do not ask for come included without our knowledge. A typical example of included extras is the subscription of a mobile phone. By default, voice mail, international line facilities, and other services are included unless we deactivate it from our account. This is called an opt-out service. Unless we opt-out of a service, we are in by default.

Ethical marketing strategy in the selling of a product or service is seldom without fine prints, although there are some exceptions. A responsible marketer should not include services the customers did not request, unless they choose to opt-in. A good example is the chatroom function at This function is NOT automatically activated because it cost money to chat, so users will have to activate their chat account themselves in order to use the service, before billing commence.

Let us take a look at another example to understand the dangers of assumption and its consequence. When I became a user of, I was aware that chatting in moblog via SMS using the mobile phone is NOT free. However, I assumed incorrectly that chatting via web on the other hand is free. With this assumption, I frequently send messages to multiple members of my group blogs and sometimes to all members in the group.
It was yesterday that I soon learnt from moblog's moderator that messages sent online via web cost as much as sending SMS via the phone. This means if my group makes up of 20 members, sending a message to 'all' will cost me 20 SMS messages, and in reality, I have more than these numbers of members in different groups! This is the consequence of missing the fine print.

As can be seen from the described scenario, assumptions in our daily lives are dangerous. While I assumed that chatting web online is free, the service provider presumes I am aware chatting online is not free.
Learn therefore what I have learnt. Read the fine print (if there is any) before you use any service or product, and do not risk your pockets getting burnt.

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