When I was a kid, comic books and Mad Magazines had ads in the last couple of pages. They were black and white drawings, as I recall, advertising all kinds of goodies you could “send away” for. (Isn’t that quaint? You had to send an envelope and a *gasp* check!)

I remember ordering two things. It was almost three, though. I was sorely tempted to buy Mr. Atlas’s Muscle Man booklet. The ad was a sweet illustration on three panels. In the first one, this big dude with a bubble-busted bimbo on his arm kicked sand in the face of a scrawny dude lying on the beach, who just took it. In the second panel, the scrawny dude had become a muscle-bound He Man. So when the other guy kicked sand in his face, the former loser got up and got all in his face and told him off. In the third panel, busty bimbo was with the former loser. And it was all because of Mr. Atlas’s body building program, which I would have owned had I had the $7 to stick in the envelope.

It’s a good thing money was scarce during those days. The lack kept me from a lot of stupidity. I did manage to order two things: a plastic Frankenstein monster and a skeleton key. The Frankenstein was $2. It was supposed to be made of “durable polyethylene” and was six feet tall! I pictured a solid, three-dimensional statue that would stand in the corner of my room, so when he arrived in an 8×10 envelope, all folded up into a square the size of a sheet of notebook paper, I was disappointed.

The skeleton key was a scam, too. The ad said that spies used them and that they would open any locked door, including, I imagined, the one to my sister’s bedroom. I had great plans for her! Needless to say, I was disappointed when the cheap plastic key, with a head shaped like a skull, would not open a single lock.

I had been scammed again.

Read the Terms and Conditions

If I had read the ads closely enough, or the fine print (assming there was some), I probably would have ordered them anyway. Who was it that said, “They only see what they are prepared to believe?” I don’t know, but she was a wise woman. The ad could have said, “This is a lame picture of a green Frankenstein pasted on a garbage bag,” and I would have seen, “Scare your friends with this lifelike 3-D statue that walks on its own!”

Of course, I was just a kid. What excuse do adults have?

How much financial heartache could be avoided if people just read the Terms and Conditions? My friend who lost nearly $200 to a teeth whitening “membership” program need not have closed her account and canceled her cards. That’s probably true for thousands of people, maybe many of our readers, who now know better.

So by all means, take some risk as you learn how to make money online. But if you’re going to make one New Year’s resolution, let it be this: I will read the Terms and Conditions before buying anything.

The I’ve Tried That Skeleton Key to Terms and Conditions

Yes, I know, I know. They’re a pain in the butt to read. They’re looooong and boring and hard to understand. You’ll get no argument from me.

But because I love you and want you to succeed, I’m going to give you a skeleton key. This key unlocks the secrets hidden in the legal gobbledegook of every scammy T&C on the Internet today. This key is not meant to be a substitute for you reading the real T&C. It is meant to warn you about what lurks in that T&C you don’t want to read so that you will be motivated to read it.

Drum roll, please…

1. This T&C document is meant to protect me, not you.
2. When you try to sue me for scamming you, all I have to show is that you accepted these T&C.
3. It’s going to be really hard to cancel your “free” membership.
4. It’s going to easier to pick the nose of a crocodile than to get your money back.
5. When your “free” trial is over in 5/15/30/ days, I’m going to take $45/$89/$97 from your account every month until you succeed in canceling. (See number 3.)
5.(a). I might also sign you up for other “memberships,” each of which will also dip into your account. (See number 2.)
6. I will sell your email address and other information to as many people as I can, for as much as I can.
7. I don’t guarantee that whatever you think you’re buying will work like I said it works. A copywriter wrote what I said. Individual results vary. Spokespeople are paid actors. Testimonials are faked.

That’s what they say, I kid you not. I’ve read too many of them to be less than bold about this. Yeah, yeah, someone’s going to burst a vessel and type a furious comment about how their T&C doesn’t say that. To that person: sit down before you hurt yourself. I said “scammy” T&C. If your T&C does not say that, then just maybe you’ve found yourself a reputable program.

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Join the Discussion

  • Eddy Salomon
    Eddy Salomon

    I think so Joe. They need to bring back the R.I.F. (Reading is Fundamental) commercials from the 80’s. Maybe creating a you tube video about T&C may be the way to go. But how sad is that we need to create a video to tell people to read. lol

  • Eddy Salomon
    Eddy Salomon

    Amen brother. It’s time we take responsibility for our own actions and do our due diligence. Depending on others to do it for you and for companies to actually be honest is recipe for disaster. Sadly, reading seems to be a huge chore for people and that’s just our society in general. But now you literally pay for it if you don’t read. There are great resources like this site that help people. But it does little good if folks don’t take the time to read.

    In any event, this was another great article. Hopefully folks will actually READ it and take it to heart. Keep up the good work as usual!

    • Joe

      Thanks, Eddy. Are we witnessing the death of literacy? Maybe we should create a YouTube vid about T&C.

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