October 25, 2011

Ever feel guilty for not reading the multiple pages of fine print that are given to you upon the purchase of a new cell phone plan? Well, you no longer have to – thanks to the recently launched Transparency Labs and their creation of the National Fine Print Repository (NFPR). Employees at Transparency Labs are tirelessly reading through dull, jargon-filled contracts – everything from cell phones to retirement accounts – so you don’t have to.

The launch of the company and the NFPR were recently announced at Finovate Fall 2011 – a financial-technology event held in New York City. Transparency Labs is the brainchild of Internet entrepreneur David Hirsch. The goal of the NFPR is to provide a resource for people to get clear explanations on various types of contracts so technical language that is difficult to understand doesn’t fool them. Hirsch refers to the current mess of misleading, misunderstood contracts as the $250 billion “fine print economy” and believes the creation of the NFPR offers a solution to this massive problem. During the presentation at Finovate Fall 2011, Hirsch explained, “The mission is very straightforward: to decode, demystify, and deconstruct all of the fine print – to make it transparent, clear, and simple to all consumers.”

Finally. A Company That Reads The Fine Print So You Don’t Have To

The NFPR will become available to consumers in early 2012 and will provide those curious about their contracts with an easy-to-navigate, easy-to-understand database putting contracts into layman’s terms. Users of the site will no longer have to worry about wording that allows companies to change terms of use, charge hidden fees or forbid consumers from filling a lawsuit. Simply use the NFPR to search by the company you’re doing business with, and a boiled down write-up of key contract components will be at your fingertips.

While the database has not yet been made available for public use, it already contains summaries of 2,000 contracts – primarily cell phones, credit cards, bank and retirement accounts. However, Hirsch plans to expand the scope of the NFPR to include mortgage, insurance, travel and software contracts.

As readers may know – we here at Reset San Francisco are big fans of providing people with transparent information – whether it is in the form of public transportation data or previously unreleased government documents.

The goal of the NFPR – taking complicated contracts and making them simple – seems to fit the bill.