Small print should be big print. Fact.

As regular readers of this very blog will know, I was (and am) obsessed with a Zara dress that Frankie Sandford (the fit, but possibly evil one from The Saturdays) was photographed wearing.  My Lovely Parents bought me the dress, and I used to hang it up on my wardrobe door, just to admire its beautifulness.  But this week, I had somewhere to wear it – hurrah!  One of the girls from the office had her leaving drinks on Thursday (to be clear, I’m gutted that she’s gone, and not just because she sometimes reads my blog.  She’s hilarious, and I love her face.  Moving on…), which I thought was an ideal occasion to wear the dress, so that others could share in the beautifulness.

As the dress has been hanging around in my bedroom for a while, some of the pleats in the skirt had started to fall.  No problem, I (naively) thought, I’ll just iron the creases back in.  So, the iron was plugged in, there was a brief, but fierce struggle with the ironing board (and a briefer battle between the steam setting on the iron and my wrist – the steam won), and away we went.  Approximately 4 seconds after I started ironing the dress, a strange, burny smell reached my nostrils.  And not a nice burny smell (bonfire, barbeque, ex-boyfriend’s belongings), but a bad one (thousands of pounds of electrical equipment, hair, new Zara dress).  Turns out that the label quite clearly states (in a variety of languages, but in very small letters), Do Not Wash.  Do NOT Iron.  For the LOVE OF GOD, DO NOT IRON!  So…um…well.  Turns out that ironing was a bad idea, and the pleats look just fine in their current, dropped configuration.  (Lovely Mum, or Lovely Stepdad, if you’re reading this, the dress is fine.  You’d never notice the melted pleat.)  (Honestly though, it is ok.  Promise.)

So, in conclusion, small print should be large.  Preferably with flashing neon signs and a honking noise, to illustrate how important the information is.  Small print is sneaky, and I don’t care for it.

Once, a long time ago (about 2007), I was offered a New Look store card (I wasn’t going to name and shame them, I was going to say something witty along the lines of ‘I won’t mention the name of the shop, let’s just say that it’s a high street chain, the name of which rhymes with Blue Book.  But then I decided sod it, they deserve to be shamed), and on the basis that I’d receive a 10% discount on whatever I purchased on the day, and a choice of card colours (yes, I’m easily influenced, a marketer’s dream, etc., etc. – I’m told this often.  I also doubt whether ANYONE who has taken out a New Look store card has chosen the orange or green versions), I thought that I’d apply.  Sadly, I was accepted, and the stupid, bright pink card has been the bane of my life ever since.

I have no problem with the monthly payments.  I’ve bought the items, it’s only fair that I pay the money back.  I also understand that if I miss a payment, or go over the limit, I deserve to receive a fee.  But let me give you a couple of examples of the ridiculous crapness of this card;

1.  I was in-store, and mentioned that I wasn’t sure that I had enough money on the card to pay for whatever I was buying (I fear that it was shoes).  The card was swiped, I was told that everything was fine and that it had gone through, then (prepare your suprised face), when my monthly statement arrived, I was told that I had gone over my limit, so that would be £12.00 more this month please. 

2.  My credit limit has been increased twice without my asking for it.  Firstly, I’m not shopping, I don’t need more money.  Secondly, even when I was shopping, I’m (finally) at the stage where I don’t WANT to saddle myself with more debt – stop encouraging me to spend!

3.  I keep getting sent offers that sound amazing (free beauty treatments, 20% discount) just because I own a New Look card.  Then the SMALL PRINT lets me know that I’ll have to spend £35.00 on my card to receive any of the amazing things.  I may as well pay for my own £15.00 manicure, rather than accrue more items that I don’t need, and a ridiculous amount of interest (did you know that the interest rate is about 30% on store cards?  I used to tut when I heard things like that, without actually understand what it means – I’m sure that you’re all much more clued up than I am, but just in case – that means that if I spend £100, and don’t pay it all off before the end of the month, I’ll end up having to pay another £30, for nothing.  Do you know how many Primark bags that would buy me?!)

4.  The biggest problem that I have with this card?  Well, back in December, you may remember that there was a rather large amount of snow, which caused massive issues for the postal system, what with closed roads, blocked depots, people living in the middle of nowhere and still expecting the postie to arrive, even though (and I quote) ‘I can’t get to the depot.  The weather’s too bad, I can’t even get to the end of the road!’  Well, this meant that my card statement didn’t arrive (and still hasn’t, but I digress).  So, I decided to assume (mistake) that the minimum payment would be £5.00, as it had been for several months previously (I tend to pay off more than the minimum amount each month, but on this occasion, with it being January and a 5 week month, pay-day wise, I went for the least amount that I could pay).  I popped into my local store, handed over a rumpled fiver, and promptly forgot all about it.  Until I received my statement at the end of January (actually, if I’m honest, it was more like the middle of February), and discovered that I’d been charged a late payment fee, of £12.00.  I rang the customer service helpline.  I say ‘helpline’, I’m not sure that this is an accurate description.  The conversation went a little like this;

Me: (Quite chirpily at this point) ‘ Hi, I can see that I’ve had a late payment charge, but I actually paid in cash instore on 3rd January.’

Generic Customer Service Chap:  ‘Oh.  Ok, let me just look at your account…..’  5 minute pause, where all I can hear is his fingers tapping over the keyboard, and all he can hear is my fingers starting to drum impatiently on the windowsill  ‘….yeah, I can see that a payment went through, but it wasn’t enough to cover the minimum payment.’

Me:   ‘Riiiight.  How much was the minimum payment?’

GCSC: ‘£5.86.’

Yep, that’s right, I was charged £12.00, for 86p.  That sounds fair.  So, even when I can shop again, it’s safe to say that store cards can expect no more business from me.  Because they’re rubbish.  They do not offer value for money, they give you a small incentive to get you hooked in, and then send more offers through to encourage you to get into more debt.  The fees that they are able to charge are horrendous, and whenever I’ve spoken to someone in the Customer Service department in relation to my card, I’ve discovered that I’d get better answers if I’d asked the card itself.  I never thought I’d say this, but credit is not always a good thing.  If you must get a store card, then for the love of God (and skirts), please read the small print.  Twice.

In other news, I went to a family wedding last night, which was just lovely.  As I was getting ready for bed, I pulled my pyjama bottoms on underneath my dress, pulled the dress over my head, and then noticed The Boy looking at my waist in an odd fashion.  Turns out that I’d forgotten that I was wearing my very special, very giant Spanx pants.  I don’t think that he likes me quite as much anymore….

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: When did the customer stop being right? « My name's Carrie-Ann, and I'm a Shopaholic.

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