I recently was shopping at Sears for a new lawnmower (gasoline-powered, not like the one shown). Sears always listed them by horsepower, printing the number in large letters on the top of each mower, something like the “5.5 horsepower!” still prominent on my old mower.
When I was looking now, I saw “7.25” on the model similar to the one I had before. “Oh boy!” I thought. Still about the same price and more horsepower than my old 5.5.
No, look again. In small letters, it said “gross torque,” not horsepower. What the heck is that? Even the clerk did not know, just that all of their mowers were now rated in gross torque. I suspect 7.25 gross torque is about the same as 5.5 horsepower, but the number is bigger, and in sales, bigger is better. If I find it is underpowered, I can return it within 30 days, the clerk assured me.
That said, the new lawnmower does work much better than the old one. It has an automatic choke (Lordy! What will the young-uns think of next?) and, best of all, I no longer have to change the oil at the end of each season. That was a job more distasteful than you would think. I had to turn the lawnmower upside-down to drain the old oil out of the dipstick hole, half of it always went on the driveway, and then I had to take the old oil back to Pep Boys for recycling.
Then, I was haggling with the Wall Street Journal over my subscription that almost doubled in price to $360 per year, more than I was willing to pay. They mail me offers about once a week to renew my subscription at $200, about what I was paying before and what I would be willing to pay again. But on the back, in fine print, it explained this rate was only for “new” subscribers, ones who had not subscribed for 6 months. If I did not qualify, my money would be applied to a subscription at the usual rate.
I called to complain. I pointed out the front said the offer was “Valid for Roger Walck” and they printed my account number so they know my subscription history. What they giveth on the front in big print, they taketh away on the back in fine print. Shame on you, WSJ.
Of course, like all subscriptions, they make it very easy to renew by credit card. I never give them my credit card number, because they all say my subscription will then be automatically renewed eternally at whatever rate they decide until specifically stopped by me (or my heirs). That is a charge easily overlooked, and they know it. I only pay subscriptions by check.
I do not blame the WSJ editorial staff for this subterfuge. It all comes from the owners, News Corp, under Rupert Murdock. Disingenuous is the new American way, I kid you not, and we all have to be constantly on guard, and be sure to read the fine print.