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Study: Major Companies with the Most Confusing Fine Print

Companies often include lengthy and complex fine print when customers sign up for services, purchase products, or download apps. While important to read, these terms and conditions, privacy policies, and other legal documentation can be difficult to understand, which is why most people don't read them and simply check "I accept."

General terms and conditions image by Viarami
Source: Pixabay

This study analyzed the fine print of 100 major companies to uncover which have the longest and most confusing documentation for customers.

Methodology

The fine print was gathered in August 2023 from 100 well-known companies across categories like tech, retail, and travel. The word count for each company's documentation was calculated to determine the reading time based on the average adult reading speed of 200 words per minute. The Flesch Reading Ease formula was then applied to each company's fine print to produce a score from 0 to 100 indicating a level of difficulty. Higher scores represent easier readability.

Speedometer, Kilometre, Mileage display image by LoggaWiggler
Source: Pixabay

Key Findings

Longest Fine Print

The companies found to have the longest fine print include AT&T, Venmo, and Cash App. Their documentation ranges from 30,000 to 56,000 words, requiring between 2 hours 30 minutes and 4 hours 40 minutes to read fully. On average, fine print word counts were 10,385 words taking 54 minutes to read.

Most Difficult Fine Print

TripAdvisor, Twitch, and TaskRabbit were rated as having the most difficult fine print to understand based on reading ease scores. Booking.com was the only company with "fairly easy" fine print.

Booking.com terms and conditions
Source: Booking.com

Fine Print by Industry

Across industries, dating companies had the longest fine print at over 15,000 words on average. Health and fitness companies had the shortest at approximately 6,500 words. TaskRabbit, Grindr, Venmo, MyFitnessPal, HBO Max, AT&T, Target, Snapchat, Indeed, and Airbnb had the longest fine print in their respective categories.

Wrapping Things Up

While tedious, reading the fine print can help customers understand important details about privacy, data usage, and terms and conditions. Difficulty in interpreting fine print can lead to misunderstandings and disputes. Companies should aim to simplify their documentation to improve transparency for customers.

References

Secure Data Recovery Services. 2023. Study: Major Companies with the Most Confusing Fine Print. [online] Available at: https://www.securedatarecovery.com/resources/study-confusing-fine-print  [Accessed October 2023].

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