I hope 2014 is a good year for consumers. That’s what I always say in my first column of the year, of course.
I always hope that more businesses will treat their customers with respect and fairness and that the regulators – the Consumer Commission, Ombudsman offices, National Credit Regulator – will do their utmost to handle the complaints of the victims of illegal or unethical treatment quickly, fairly and impartially.
If I was asked to sum up the one most important things I’ve learnt in 15 years of consumer journalism I’d quote that lovely line from an old Tom Waits song: “The large print giveth and the small print taketh away.”
Reading every word of the small print is a real schlep. It takes time and it makes you look petty and pedantic. “It’s just usual stuff,” I’ve been told by hospital admission clerks and employees of “adventure” companies who apparently believe they can kill or injure me through their gross negligence and not be held accountable, if I just sign on the dotted line.