Size matters in contracts: this is how they deceive you with the fine print

The so-called "small print" of the contracts is in many cases the one that contains, precisely, the most important information.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
25 May 2023 Thursday 04:25
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Size matters in contracts: this is how they deceive you with the fine print

The so-called "small print" of the contracts is in many cases the one that contains, precisely, the most important information.

Insurance, purchases in installments, credit cards, financing... In this type of contract, the conditions, clauses, interest rates, obligations and even how you can claim can go unnoticed because the links that are accepted with the signing of the document appear in a lowercase letter and on the back.

"Except for personal data, which normally appears on the first page or front, it is on the back where this clause appears in very small print, all the interesting or really important information for a consumer is in the small print", explains Estel Romero, a lawyer for Sanahuja Miranda and an expert in revolving credits, where it is usually a workhorse.

The main implication of the fine print is that consumers do not fully read or understand it. This leads to situations where they are not informed about the details of the contract, which could lead to cheating, unpleasant surprises, disadvantages in case of disputes and the loss of rights and protections.

The most common examples occur in people who sign service contracts -such as telephony- without reading the fine print and do not realize the additional charges for spending more data or premium services. They use the services without control, accumulating considerable debt and, once they realize what they have signed, they run into financial difficulties and realize the consequences of not having read the contract.

“The consumer should never sign what they don't understand. It is the legislation that protects consumers and that should oblige credit institutions to inform clients in a clear and transparent way with wording that is easy to understand and with clear examples”, explains Lluís Ferrer de Nin, lawyer at Ferrer Advocats. .

Problems are regularly seen with revolving cards, which allow you to finance purchases. With these credits, consumers have a credit limit that is repaid periodically and is automatically renewed at its monthly maturity. Thus, they are trapped in a debt that is difficult to cancel. "This is a product that is especially in demand in times like the present, where the rise in the Euribor and inflation significantly reduce the purchasing power of families," says the lawyer.

However, what constituted a "trap" for the consumer has turned against the companies or companies that use this method to formalize their contracts. Article 80 of the General Law for the Defense of Consumers and Users regulates this practice. "This article has already undergone several modifications, since initially it did not indicate any type of size, later a minimum size of 1.5 millimeters was established and recently the appropriate size of the letter in contracts has been established at 2.5 millimeters," says Romero Nor can the space between lines be less than 1.15 millimeters or with "insufficient contrast with the background that would make reading difficult," reads the standard.

The size of the letter in the contracts is therefore a new way of claiming that is gaining weight among those affected by contracts or revolving cards. "Those who feel deceived or harmed can take advantage of the size of the letter of the clauses to declare the nullity of the contract due to abusiveness," explains the lawyer.

The first thing is to put yourself in the hands of a lawyer and claim out of court against the financial institution itself, seeking an agreement. If this first extrajudicial claim has not worked, it is advisable to go to court. “This judicial claim can be for various reasons, either because the interest is disproportionate, which is the path of the Usury Law, or because the clauses that regulate the cost of credit are not clear, nor have they been sufficiently explained to the client which is the so-called route of transparency and which is gaining prominence in recent months”, says Ferrer de Nin.

"If a consumer succeeds in proving that the letter of the contract is too small or that the revolving system of his card was not clearly explained to him in a legal proceeding, he can cancel the credit card contract and get the bank or credit institution to return all the interest that the client had paid and the commissions will also be returned to him ”, indicates Ferrer de Nin.

It should be noted that there is no specific period to claim. Even if the debt is already settled, it is possible to start the procedures to recover the money that was paid in excess.

To avoid future problems of this nature as far as possible, it is best to make sure you have understood the content of the contract before signing it and have control of all purchases and use the card in specific cases and above all.