How often do you read the fine print when you sign up for a new membership, open an account, or subscribe to a newsletter?
Unless there’s a credit card involved, I don’t even skim the fine print. And if there’s a lot of fine print, I cancel out.
But what do you do if you can’t even find the fine print?
With No Fine Print, I “Signed Up” For Amazon Prime
Just this morning, I discovered I signed up for Amazone Prime.
This isn’t the first time I’ve unintentionally signed up. It happened a few years ago and I didn’t know about it until I saw a $100 charge on my bank account. I couldn’t figure out how to cancel online so I called Amazon and got a refund.
The second time it happened, I had received a lot of Amazon emails but I thought they were simply marketing to me. I didn’t realize they were telling me about all my great benefits until the emails started asking why I wasn’t watching Amazon Prime TV. Didn’t I know what I was missing? After watching a few episodes of Sneaky Pete, I was hooked and kept the membership for a year until I received a renewal request and canceled.
I suppose Prime would make sense if I was a constant Amazon customer but I’m not. I prefer to buy from local stores, even if they’re chains because most are independently owned. Plus, as a freelancer, it’s healthy for me to get outside the office once in a while and interact with real live people.
This morning I checked my emails and saw updates from an order I placed last night. My boyfriend gets a fair amount of Amazon gift cards where he works, and he generously gives them to me when he needs to order something. My fee: I order stuff I need or want. So last night, we used up almost all of the remaining balance from the current card to get:
- Dog food for his two dogs and
- A beauty product and pickleball racquet for me
And there was a second email congratulating me on my Prime membership!
Amazon Tricked Me!
I know I didn’t sign up for Prime during this last purchase. I think the problem is we ordered using my tablet, which is old and a bit slow. Maybe I missed the box to uncheck for Amazon Prime and signed up by default for a free 30-day trial. I noticed that whenever I added items to my cart the shipping changed to two-day shipping with a fee from my earlier request for free shipping. I always use free shipping because there’s a major Amazon warehouse in Phoenix and my stuff almost arrives within a couple of days anyway.
In this case, there wasn’t fine print but a default action to sign me up for a service I don’t want or need. Technical fine print, if you will.
Lesson learned: If you see an email from a source you know wants your money, open it. This time, I figured out how to cancel my Prime membership online and yes, I now have a confirmation email.
The Phoenix Suns and the Fine Print About Brooks
My boyfriend gave me the idea to write about fine print after we placed our Amazon orders. He had been talking about how the Phoenix Suns nearly traded for the wrong player last week.
For those who don’t follow sports, the Phoenix Suns are our disillusioned local NBA franchise. (That’s basketball.) I say this because they never recovered from losing Steve Nash to the hated LA Lakers, where an injury promptly ended his impressive career. The Suns have never won a championship. They reached the NBA Finals twice and lost, first to the Boston Celtics and later to the Chicago Bulls.
Their record is surprisingly similar to the Phoenix Cardinals, who lost their single Super Bowl appearance to the New England Team That Shall Not Be Named.
Anyway, it seems that the Suns were prepared to do a three-way trade with the Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies. Don’t ask me to explain three-way trades. What I do understand is that the Suns wanted Memphis’ Dillon Brooks but Memphis thought they wanted MarShon Brooks, and somehow, Washington’s Austin Rivers was left hanging between the two other cities.
At the time of the deal, Dillon was injured and not even playing so that would disqualify him from a trade. You’d think that these highly valuable professional franchises have attorneys and spokespeople would know this and be able to distinguish between two players with the same last name.
Friday Night Tweets
Over several hours on a Friday night as the NBA trade deadlines approached, reporters from all three cities–Phoenix, Washington, and Memphis–and the national media repeated different stories about what Brooks was going to Arizona and which city was claiming Washington’s Austin Rivers. Arizona’s sports radio station provided a helpful Twitter timeline for all this from no less than seven sportswriters reporting divergent stories from the three teams. It’s a pretty entertaining read:
- “A [Memphis] Grizzlies source confirms it’s MarShon Brooks in the deal.”
- “It’s Dillon Brooks coming to the [Phoenix] Suns. Reports of it being MarShon are wrong.”
- “Two sources told me it was MarShon, not Dillon, after initial Dillon Brooks report, but then I was told deal was not complete.”
- “Memphis ‘never’ discussed Dillon Brooks.”
- Washington believes it was told Dillon Brooks in conversations with Memphis. The Grizzlies insist they told Washington it was MarShon. One rival GM texted me and said: ‘Maybe Washington can put Scott Brooks in if there has to be a Brooks in the deal.'”
My personal favorite: “Austin Rivers consistently repeated: ‘I don’t know where the hell I’m going right now.'”
According to the Twitter feed, Washington was supposed to be brokering the deal but hey, it’s Washington. Perhaps Javanka were involved with this. They get a lot of things confused.
As of this writing, Washington sent Austin Rivers and Kelly Oubre Jr. to Phoenix for Trevor Ariza who I’m not sure was part of the original deal. The “Brooks Brothers” remain in Memphis. Most importantly, my boyfriend seems pleased with the deal.
Lesson learned: get an independent broker for any business transaction involving more than two parties. And speak slowly so people can understand what you’re saying.
Should You Read the Fine Print?
There are a couple of takeaways I see from these two episodes.
- If you’re personally invested in a financial sense and you don’t see fine print to skim, look for it in places like email and Twitter.
- If your reputation is invested, get a skilled team to double-check everything, everywhere!