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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Johnston: Fine Print: How Big Companies Use 'Plain English' to Rob You Blind

The Fine PrintDavid Cay Johnston, The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use "Plain English" to Rob You Blind (Portfolio Hardcover, Sept. 18, 2012):

"No other modern country gives corporations the unfettered power found in America to gouge cus­tomers, shortchange workers, and erect barriers to fair play. A big reason is that so little of the news ... addresses the private, government-approved mechanisms by which price gouging is employed to redistribute income upward."

You are being systematically exploited by powerful corporations every day. These companies squeeze their trusting customers for every last cent, risk their retirement funds, and endanger their lives. And they do it all legally. How? It’s all in the fine print.

David Cay Johnston, the bestselling author of Per­fectly Legal and Free Lunch, is famous for exposing the perfidies of our biggest institutions. Now he turns his attention to the ways huge corporations hide sneaky stipulations in just about every contract, often with government permission. ...

Johnston shares solutions you can use to fight back against the hundreds of obscure fees and taxes that line the pockets of big corporations, and to help end these devious practices once and for all.

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2012/09/johnston--2.html

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Comments

You are being systematically exploited by powerful corporations every day. These companies squeeze their trusting customers for every last cent, risk their retirement funds, and endanger their lives. And they do it all legally.

Oh, wait. It said "corporations." The description looked so much like one for the government.

Posted by: Woody | Sep 20, 2012 12:18:21 PM

Thank goodness our government doesn't do this!!

Posted by: AMTbuff | Sep 20, 2012 2:18:58 PM

Question: When is a contract not worth the paper it's printed on?

Answer: When it contains weasel words so broad in scope that one party is free to change whatever it wants, whenever it wants.

Janet Bandur and her husband, Darrell, discovered this after Wells Fargo contacted them recently to say that their home equity line of credit was being closed because "it is no longer compatible with today's systems."

The Bandurs were told they had one year to pay off the roughly $87,000 they had outstanding on the account....

Los Angeles Times: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/sep/13/business/la-fi-lazarus-20120914

Posted by: Bob | Sep 20, 2012 7:55:05 PM

David Cay Johnston has perfected the art of making money from "social justice."

Posted by: michael livingston | Sep 21, 2012 3:18:22 AM

If he is right, what is wrong with that?

Posted by: JMH | Sep 21, 2012 5:51:18 AM

It took a federal law to force 401(k) providers to tell the truth to the own "customers."

And business wonders why we get more regulations. Duh.

Posted by: save_the_rustbelt | Sep 21, 2012 6:18:01 AM

So, save-the-rustbelt, what you're saying is that all the federal regulations on businesses by unelected bureaucrats were put there because of abuses by businesses and, by extension, that those regulations ended those abuses forever. There's no telling how many lives have been saved with the required split toilet seat.

Posted by: Woody | Sep 21, 2012 3:31:44 PM

@Woody,

most regulations are put there at the request of business.

That is what The Fine Print is about, how businesses get regulations put in place (and statutes) to thwart competition, insulate themselves from the rigors of market competition and extract unearned income from customers, especially captive customers.

Posted by: David Cay Johnston | Sep 22, 2012 6:36:58 AM