The Devil is in the Details…

2 Jun

Have you noticed lately the “plethora” of offers in your inbox for everything from free seminars (all self-professed experts in social media marketing) to consumer items – and they all start to look the same?

One thing I’ve learned is that you have to be absolutely conscious about the fine print and details – whether it’s a product, a service, a message, etc.  There’s so much competition (especially since the recession) with so many competing for meagre dollars that it seems that copycatting is the new norm.  Established brands compete with knockoffs of their own products and hawkers of all shapes and colors emerge on the scene daily. The internet is the great leveler where price shopping prevails and low quality products can allure even the most savvy shopper.

Here’s a few examples of what I mean:Authentic

Listings on eBay of products that “seem” to be authentic but are not. While a giveaway clue to a fraudulent listing can be a Hong Kong or China source and a way-too-low price, this is not always the case. Even U.S. based listings claim “Authentic” in the title and then often include small print at the bottom to tell the truth.  The fine print governs even when the listing title includes the word authentic so be aware that the item could be a knockoff nonetheless.

Craig’s list – the world’s largest yard sale. No refunds, no guarantees, no protection against unethical or fraudulent listings. It’s buyer beware even if the seller appears legitimate in person (I got ripped off by a security guard in uniform who sold me a blackberry that worked for – get this – one day!  How can you make a blackberry work perfectly for a single day and then it is non-functional?)

Packaged computer software that supposedly comes with particular features that were actually eliminated in their earlier version but they forgot to update the packaging and user manual.

Seemingly identical products offered in grocery or other retail ads (watch the fine print!) at differing prices. Sometimes the items look identical in the images but the small type text below the ad gives the exact specifications (size, weight, model number). It can be an event in mental gymnastics to figure out the differences between items!

“Free” seminars by self-appointed experts who don’t know what they are talking about. Yes, you get what you pay for (there’s no such thing as a free lunch!) – but often the time you invest to attend is ill-spent when you consider the value. While there is the rare person who offers truly free seminars as a way to get you to buy follow-on seminars, I’ve seen more than my share of offerings by people who attended last month’s expert seminar and now hang out their own shingle.

It’s true – the devil really is in the details!  In these times of hurry up, move ahead, go forward, don’t hesitate, it can be tempting to buy the first “looks good” bargain that comes along.

At the same time the proverb “Haste makes waste” couldn’t be more true!  Look out for the details – purchase wisely after reading the small and smaller print!


Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at or or visit for details.

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