It's official. My readers are the best, and not bad-looking, either. Not only are you loyal, but you've also made mail time the high point of my days. Your letters and tips are great, and when you send in advertisements, credit offers, and consumer rip-offs, it tells me you're paying attention. It appears you are getting very good at it, too.
Realizing it is the season for awards shows, I thought today I'd hand out a few awards of my own:
To Richard and Olive of Ohio goes our coveted Most Conveniently Missing Information Award for their entry of a double-sized postcard received from Peoples Savings Bank. Judges were amazed by this entry's brevity (62 words total) and the complete absence of fine print. The message: "Your Overdraft Privilege on your checking account is available when you need it. With your Overdraft Privilege, you can overdraw your account up to the pre-approved limit, and we'll pay your checks. Then, simply bring your account back to a positive balance within 30 days and you'll only be charged our usual NSF fee for each overdrawn check. It's just that easy!"
So, you may be asking, what's missing? Well, just about everything. There's no mention of what this "usual NSF fee" might be (some banks charge as much as $30 per bounced check these days) or what the interest rate is on this overdraft privilege, should reimbursement not be forthcoming (it's gotta be high double-digits). Just how high can one bounce one's account at Peoples Savings, and just how long can a check-bouncer get away with this before Peoples slams the account closed and slaps the customer with a lawsuit? There have got to be some limits here, but you'd never know it by looking at this invitation to spend all you've got plus all Peoples Savings has, too.
Our next award, the Most Confusing Use of Fine Print Award, goes to Carl and Bobbie Jo of Kentucky, who entered Fifth Third Equity Flexline's full-page newspaper ad (not dated, so I must disclose that this could be quite old, given the condition of the specimen). Picture, if you will, just 43 very large words filling about seven-eighths of the page with the last one-eighth devoted to fine print.
Now, I've read some fine print in my day, but this really beats all. What I can tell you for sure is the first sentence says the annual percentage rate on their home equity loan's "lo, lo, lo, looooow payment" is based on an APR of 4 percent. Six lines later, in an amazing turn that nearly gave me a whiplash, "The maximum APR will not exceed 25 percent or the state usury ceiling, whichever is less." Oh, it goes on and on with headache-inducing terms and data I could relate to you here, but I won't.
And finally, the Most Clever Way of Hiding the Truth Award goes to Arvetta of Tennessee for finding a $24 rebate check in the mail and figuring this was a trick. Sure enough, after slogging through four long and arduous pages of text, on the very last page, she discovered that once she cashed this rebate, she'd be accepting a lifetime membership in the Handyman Club of America and agreeing to pay $325 for lifetime dues. Good for you, Arvetta!
OK, folks, make my day. Keep those letters and great consumer rip-offs coming. We'll schedule another awards ceremony soon.