Always Read the “Fine Print” … and Ask Questions

A lot of the things I buy these days, I buy online. You probably do too. That’s why it’s so important to read the fine print. I didn’t yesterday…

craigslist-postcardsThe Craigslist ad subject line was “15 Antique Black & White Photo Postcards (Unused) – $15″. They were really cool postcards of a local observatory and had some moon and star images. I thought “Wow, these are great. And only $15!”

I contacted the seller and he sent me his phone number and I called him. He no longer lived locally, but was willing to mail the cards to me and I would mail him a check. So far, so good. Then I confirmed the price…”That’s $15, right?”

“Well, no that’s $15 each. $225 total.”

GULP! I apologized for not reading the ad more carefully (and missing the fine print) and said I’d have to pass on this.  I realized I was mislead by the subject line which could have been avoided if he had added the word “each” after “$15.” Or better yet put the total cost in the subject line as he was selling them as a set.

Thankfully our transaction didn’t go any further than this phone call. Can you imagine his face when he got a $15 check for the whole set?!!

But sometimes people don’t read the fine print in my Etsy store listings either. I sold a sterling silver spoon to a man, and though the listing included the length of the spoon and its weight in grams, he left feedback rating me only four out of five stars because “the spoon was small”!!

Sometimes I do take photos of items next to rulers or use props to help give potential buyers more sense of the size. I don’t want people to be surprised. For example, I bought a HUGE vintage ashtray over the weekend and even though I included its dimensions in the listing, I also took a photo with some coins in it to give it perspective. (Now this is a party-size ashtray!)


But apparently I’ve also mislead potential buyers with the use of props! In a listing for a vintage Dobbs hat I used some prop books in one photo. The listing describes only the hat, but someone contacted me and asked if the books were included. (Sadly no. I use these books.) Usually people understand the use of props, but now I add “Props not included” to listings as part of the fine print.


And let’s face it, sometimes online sellers are woefully negligent about including an item’s details or condition. They don’t include the fine print!! When I’m interested in an item and the fine print is missing, I jot off an email and ask, “Any holes, stains, pilling, etc?” or “Could you send me the garment measurements?” You’d be surprised at how many times I’ve received rude responses back, such as “If the item had any condition problems I would have listed them.” But even those responses are helpful as they tell me this is NOT a person I want to do business with.

Bottom line, and a reminder to myself, always read the fine print and don’t be afraid to ask questions.


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