Some fictitious examples below to explain the type of wording I'm seeking.

  1. Suppose I'm paying my landlord the full monthly rent. But to use the room I have to ask permission, which he/she gives only occasionally, e.g. I could use the room only on Fridays from 9am-5pm. Note that I'm only allowed to use the room if I pay the full monthly rent.
  2. Suppose I pay a yearly subscription to some online service, e.g. Xbox Game Pass. But I can only play games when some moderator/gatekeeper feels like it, which is once a month for 1-2 hours.
  3. Suppose I got a loan from the bank to buy a car. I paid for the car in full, but now I'm paying off the loan with monthly payments. However, I am told by a third party that I cannot use the car till I have paid off the loan.

Essentially, these scenarios are about something I've paid for but cannot fully use.

  • 1
    The last one looks a little different from the first two. In that scenario, it seems like you haven't actually leased the car -- you need to buy it before you can use it. But I'll have a think about whether there's a suitable word here. It's an interesting question.
    – Dan Bron
    Oct 11 '18 at 15:57
  • I'm not sure I fully understand the question. Your subject says "but cannot use," while the examples you give are of something you CAN use, but only at certain times. You have a subscription and one of the clauses of the subscription is that you can only use it at a certain time (that happens to be determined by whomever you're renting from/ subscribing (from?)). Perhaps edit your subject or the examples you provided.
    – Remi
    Oct 11 '18 at 16:48
  • 1
    Also, I agree with Dan that your third example is different. It also doesn't make sense and isn't a real life scenario. The whole purpose of a lease/mortgage is that you're able to use whatever you're being leased throughout the whole lease period.
    – Remi
    Oct 11 '18 at 16:48
  • Yes, slightly different.
    – user22542
    Oct 11 '18 at 16:54
  • 2
    These sound like things for which you have limited rights
    – Jim
    Oct 11 '18 at 17:38

There are products known as intangibles. It's something that you pay for that you do not physically possess, and therefore cannot "use" in the traditional sense of the word. Examples of intangibles are insurance, shipping, consulting, banking/brokerage/accounting.

All of your examples include a physical product and being blocked by another party from using the product, so after reading your post a few times through, I'm not sure this is exactly what you are looking for, but perhaps it will get you closer to the word you are seeking.



Another idiom that fits well is "pig in a poke". I provided definitions for you. Too bad that second and third parties are taking advantage and making the deals bad.

Those three things I bought, what bad decisions. Each one turned out to be a real big pig in a poke. I should have done more research before I dropped a dime on them.




In such cases, an idiom is often used. It is an example of a "white elephant". This means a purchase or gift which is of little/no use when compared to the its expense and/or the cost to maintain.

Yeah, I paid for it - never use it though - it's my latest white elephant gift to myself.


  • 4
    This is way off the mark, sorry. The guy wants to use the products -- they're not useless, and he paid money because he wants them -- he's being blocked by third parties.
    – Dan Bron
    Oct 11 '18 at 16:22
  • No, Dan, you are way off the mark. Although those "high purchaser expectations" may have been true, they still turned out to be "white elephant" purchases (due to uncontrollable third party causes). ca·ve·at emp·tor to be sure. But, I'm thinking of another idiom.
    – user22542
    Oct 11 '18 at 16:47

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