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To: Matmail@aol.com

Subject: gyms

I recently terminated my membership at the [name omitted] gym and was outraged that they are charging me for two months of fees beyond my cancellation date. They say they are entitled to that because they put it in the fine print in the contract, but I am certain no one ever mentioned that to me. Is this legal? I never went after the day I canceled, so I did not utilize services that they are charging me for. I am appalled at this business practice.

-- Unsigned, in Faxland

No one bothered to read the fine print to you? Well, of course not. That's what fine print is for -- to be unread. If they let you know all that cancellation-policy stuff up front, there'd be no reason to print it in such tiny type in the palest gray ink on translucent pink paper through which you can also see what's printed on the other side, further obscuring all the facts. Do you think they went to all the trouble of designing the contract that way just to ruin it by telling you what it says? There is an order to the business universe, and if the gym upsets it by highlighting all the contract terms before you sign, they'll set off a world of repercussions. The car-lease business would be dead in a month. We're relying on your cooperation to keep the economy humming.

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