Sunday, August 24, 2008

I opened my latest bank statement and found enclosed the leaflet that usually tags along. It was a four page thing, some kind of marketing/mail order thing by the looks of it. I turned to the last page and read the Terms and Conditions. What I read stumped me. Not the terms nor the conditions, but the language used. There were about 20 points in all, each point as bewildering as the next. The first point went thus:

The facility (hereinafter referred to as “Facility”) is open to all residents of India holding a valid and existing *** Bank (hereinafter referred to as “Bank”) Credit Card (hereinafter referred to as “Card”) in good standing (hereinafter referred to as “Customer”)………

After five minutes I advanced to the second point:

The facility offers the customer the opportunity to purchase products offered solely by so-and-so-scheme (hereinafter referred to as “Products” and “So-and-so-scheme” respectively) listed in the Website (hereinafter referred to as “Website) annexed herewith for a price as set-out therein and the customer shall be required to make payments from their respective Card for the Products in the manner as provided therein.

Ten minutes and two points later:

Under the Facility, the Customer may place and order for any number of Products (hereinafter “Order”) from the Website. The payments by the Customer would be charged on their respective Card(s).

A quarter of an hour later:

In case of replacement of the Product, all the cost of the courier or any other charges in relation, thereto, would be borne by the Customer.

Hours later:

Octroi charges (as applicable)…..

I didn’t know what Octroi meant, so I looked it up and was informed “it is a local tax collected on various articles brought into a district for consumption.” And I had thought it had something to do with the number eight.

Much later:

The Facility shall be subject to usual force majeure events and on occurrence of any such event….

Majeure? I looked it up again.

"Force majeure (French for "greater force") is a common clause in contracts which essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties, such as war, strike, riot, crime, act of God (e.g., flooding, earthquake) prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract."

What I understood from it all was, I could go to a certain website and buy the products listed there with my credit card at discounted prices (which I have no intention of doing so). Local taxes extra.

Well, my point is, why do banks and other financial institutions enjoy confusing us so much? Life is hard enough as it is without having our brains muddled by such mumbo-jumbo. The average man on the street will never understand that kind of flowery language. Give me clean simple language I can read and immediately understand, language that doesn’t require having to put an unnecessary strain on the gray cells.

I hereinafter rest my case.


  1. Lol. They seem to love confusing and mystifying ordinary folks (hereafter called "Folks")? like us. Or, they just don't know how to write clear, simple language.

  2. Jargon, terminology, technospeak, legalese...maybe they think it sounds more official and businesslike that way. I've also noticed that this kind of twaddle is specially prevalent in India. Hangover of the British Raj, I guess.

  3. you will enjoy this:

    Say What You Mean

    They should just tell to write my name and sign at the back of the chequeu

  4. mesjay: Banks spend half of their time composing incomprehensible literature so they can avoid using clear, simple language. Confusing and mystifying people ranks very high in their aim & objectives!!

    J: Totally agree with you, Indian banks use the most complex teminology as compared with other countries' banks.

    Benjamin: At least you learned something new, such as what "Payee endorsement" means!

    Tetea: I too hate going to banks, and avoid them as much as I can.

  5. Haha!!! What a jargonic post! :-D

    Reading through your post reminds me of a movie I saw a long time ago, "The man who sued God" regarding the "Act of God" you mentioned in your post about one of the Bank's clauses.

  6. Kim: That's what banks specialise in, jargonism!!