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DON'T SQUINT AT THE SMALL PRINT

DON'T SQUINT AT THE SMALL PRINT

Small print is a big problem! Ask 29,000 borrowers at the Skipton Building Society, which used an 'exceptional circumstances' clause tucked away in its small print to justify increasing its mortgages by an average of £100 per month despite an apparent guarantee that it would not do so. This is by no means the first time consumers have been lulled into signing for finance, insurance or subscriptions, only to be advised later of a hostile clause in the small print.

Hence it is encouraging to hear that the Office of Fair Trading will conduct an investigation to see if consumers are being misled by small print and jargon in contracts. This is something Magnifico has supported for some time. In 2008 we were invited to the Houses of Parliament by the Plain English Campaign to support the launch of a private member's bill by Labour MP, Nick Palmer, calling for small print in contracts to be made bigger to make it easier to read for elderly people. The bill ran out of time before it could become law but it's good to see this issue now apparently back on the agenda. Meanwhile we cannot argue with the Daily Telegraph, which recommends its readers to 'raise your magnifying glasses and get reading'.

On the subject of finance-related small print we find a certain irony in the number of customers who want to order from us over the phone but find it very difficult to read the 3-digit security number on the back of their credit card!