TM&Th blog
Jean-luc Doumont
Making sure You won't read any of it

Being a recently enrolled member of the Hertz #1 Club Gold,
I have just received their Programme rental terms & conditions
in printed version by postal mail. Why do I have the impression
that they are doing everything to make me not want to read it?

Hertz #1 Club Gold

First, of course, is the shear amount of information presented:
the booklet runs 72 pages—admittedly rather small pages (A5),
but all of them except the cover packed with solid walls of text.
Am I really supposed to read this? All of it? I wished there was
an executive summary—or at least some way to help me decide
what is worth reading and what is unimportant or irrelevant.

Second is the complicated writing style so typical of legal copy
(see Entry 9). The first page of text comprises eight sentences
for a total of 567 words: yes, that's an average sentence length
of 71 words. The shortest sentence runs 11 words; the longest
runs 118. Just to give you an idea, here is a 98-word sentence:

If You have submitted a manually signed enrolment agreement or enrolment agreement supplement to enrol to use the Programme in any or all of the countries covered by these Rental Terms, then the Hertz company identified on that agreement or supplement is called the “Enrolling Company”, and that agreement or supplement (together with any terms and conditions in incorporates by reference), as it has been accepted by the Enrolling Company, revised or supplemented in accordance with its terms and modified to reflect any changes You have made in Your elections thereunder, is called Your “Enrolment” for those countries.

Third is the page layout, on several counts. The capitalization
of defined terms, such as Enrolling Company or Rental Terms,
is common practice in legal texts, I know, but it does not mean
that such practice is mandatory… or that it is reader-friendly.
(Particularly bothersome to me are the capitalized You / Your.
Since these terms are used only as defined on the first page,
why attempt to distinguish them from other use?) Also weird
is the page numbering, with odd numbers for the left pages.
Worst of all, however, is the use, not just of capitalized words,
but of passages set in all capitals (sometimes in boldface, too)
for no reason that I could figure out, but with obvious impact
on the text's readability. I let you be the judge of the result:

All-caps text

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