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American Express Clear: No Fees of Any Kind*

American Express Clear

American Express has a new credit card called “Clear.” The primary benefit of the card is that there are “absolutely no fees of any kind.”

*MOUSE PRINT: Buried in the terms and conditions is the additional 2% fee they tack onto transactions made in foreign currencies: “Transactions in Foreign Currencies: Transactions made in foreign currencies are subject to a conversion rate. Foreign currency conversion rate is base rate plus 2%, as described in the Cardmember Agreement.”  [AMEX website, April 13, 2006]

To their credit the list of fees they do NOT charge is impressive: late fees, annual fees, over-the-limit fees, balance transfer fees, cash advance fees, dishonored check fees, wire transfer fees, stop payment order fees, and statement copy fees.

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News: Sprint Settles Deceptive Ad Case with NYC

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs announced yesterday that it settled a lawsuit it had filed against Sprint and Nextel over misleading advertising of cellphone plans. Consumer Affairs alleged that Sprint used fine print footnotes to change the meaning of the primary claims being made by the advertisement.  In particular, while Sprint boldly advertised “All incoming calls are free”, the mouse print indicated there was either a 10 cent per minute charge or a monthly fee associated with the service.  With respect to another claim, “Nationwide long distance included. Every minute, every day,” the fine print indicated certain circumstances when a 25 cent per minute long distance charge would apply.

Sprint Nextel will pay the city $295,000 to settle the case.  In its press release, Sprint denied breaking any NYC advertising laws and said, “DCA never contested the truthfulness of the Sprint or Nextel advertisements…”

Hmm.  It looks like Sprint’s press release may have been missing an asterisk and footnote about how it defines the word “truthfulness”.

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Microsoft: Fingerprint Reader Replaces Passwords*

Fingerprint reader smallMicrosoft has a fingerprint reader that will let you enter password protected sites or accomplish logins without the need for entering your username and password.  Just touch your finger to the device, and you’re in.  It is a time saver, and presumably offers extra security protection.  Or does it?

*MOUSE PRINT: “The fingerprint reader is not a security feature and is intended to be used for convenience only.” [Online “Getting Started” manual,, April 10, 2006]

The actual disclaimer adds more cautions:

Fingerprint disclaimer

Who would have expected that a fingerprint reader should not be used for security purposes?  At least the warning was disclosed.