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  August 31, 2012
Buyer Beware...


There was an advertisement for an appliance store in today’s newspaper that read, "The biggest sale of the year...35% off on EVERYTHING*!!"

Now I’m not sure if you noticed, but there is a small asterisk after the word "everything" and the two exclamation points (it’s actually much smaller in the newspaper).


If you take the time to flip to the back of the ad, you’re find, in near microscopic fine print, a disclaimer that tells the astute reader that not everything is really on sale... and in fact... after reading the entire legal disclosure, it is very apparent that only a small amount of product is actually discounted.  Additionally, there seem to be requirements to purchase other goods and services in order to get the full advertised discounts.

Now it just happens that I am looking to purchase a new washer and dryer for my home (one of the reasons that this ad caught my attention in the first place I suppose).

After reading the full text of their ad, there is a higher probability that it will snow in Phoenix in August, than that I will purchase my new laundry equipment from this store.  It isn’t a matter of a misunderstanding between us.  No, they were willingly try to deceive me from the onset. 
I only do business with those people and companies that I trust.  I don’t like being lied to.  I don’t appreciate them trying to get me into their store under false pretense to try and sell me something else at a higher price or something I don’t want or need.

They had an opportunity to recruit me as a potential loyal customer, but they blew it by trying to be devious.

In this particular instance, I happened to see the small asterisk, but there are many other times, when I simply don’t have the time to read all of the legal fine print of a wordy contract. 

In these instances, I end up paying for the add-on parts, the early-termination charges, the required delivery costs, and/or mandatory resort fees assessed to each hotel patron regardless of whether or not one uses any of the hotel’s facilities.

I then vow never to do business with these companies and/or individuals again, but at this point it’s too late and I’ve been had. 

Even if I pledge never to do business with them again, it’s to no avail, as one person decision to end a relationship means very little to these companies who profit on deceit.  They’ll just recruit a new sheep to fleece through their mis-leading advertisements, over-promising sales people, and lengthy legal contracts.

All I want is for the company I’m doing business with to tell me the truth, provide me with quality goods and services, and stand behind their promises.  I want them to be dependable... not when things are going good... but when things go sideways.  I expect any business to make a profit but if they deliver value to me, then I don’t really care.

I want to know that if I have a problem with my new washer or dryer, will the company send a service person within a reasonable time to fix my problem... (i.e. do they stand behind what they sell regardless of what the law says that they can get away with?)

I want to know, in advance, if there will be several additional parts that are required (at a significant cost) in order to hook up my new washer and dryer.  Is there a delivery and set-up charge?  Do I need to set up a charge account with the store in order to get the advertised price?

I want to know if the picture in the advertisement is really of the model I’m looking to buy or a much more expensive model that I can’t afford.

I want to be able to trust the people and companies I do business with.

At our company, we do accept credit cards for payment, although most of our customers are on terms.  Our credit card customers are generally small and/or are new, therefore we end-up only processing a very few credit card payments each month and consequently we haven’t felt that we had the need to analyze our credit card processing fees.  

Recently I reviewed our most recent credit card processing statements and found that our processing company has been charging us an effective rate of nearly 15% (giving us only $0.85 for every $1.00 processed through this processing company).  Needless to say, I thought that this was a bit excessive and I called to inquire about the charges.

I was politely told that all of the various monthly service charges were in our modified service agreement (not the one we signed when we started the service but an agreement that was later amended to include new charges and fees). 

These new charges now included a "customer service fee" of $20 per month that allowed me the privilege to speak with a customer service representative should I ever question anything wrong with my bill.  I was also told that I was being assessed another charge because I didn’t sign a long-term agreement with the company and still another fee because I didn’t rent an expensive terminal from the company but rather used my own computer to process the credit card payments.

They managed to change the rules mid-game hoping that no one noticed.

So within a few hours I managed to find a new processing company and called the original company to close my account.  The following day I saw where my bank account had been debited $50 by my former processing company... account closure fee was the item description... they just had to stick it to me one more time before they could move on to another mark.

I’m sure that my little stories of deceit, deception, and greed are not unique and in fact are quickly becoming the rule rather than the exception.  We all have been plagued at one time or another by charlatans, scammers, and/or dishonest corporations, political leaders, and swindlers.

We feel used and abused, stupid for allowing some one to take advantage of the trust we placed upon them, and angry at them and ourselves for doing such a thing.

It’s impossible to always read the fine print of products and services that we purchase.  In this more complicated world, we need to be able to trust that we are not being taken advantage of but it’s getting harder and harder.

There are still plenty of people and companies who display professional integrity and high moral fiber.  More than ever, we need to give our business to those we trust to do the right thing... all the time... without exception. 

We need to find a way to reward those people and companies who deal in truth and honesty and punish those who live by the adage of Caveat Emptor...

Buyer Beware...    

Thank you very much for your support of OptiFuse where our number one core value is to provide the highest integrity to our customers, suppliers, and team members.


Jim Kalb

www.optifuse.blogspot.com (blog archive)

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