13 June 2012

Sharp Practices involving terms and conditions and small print

In this modern age we are often presented with lengthy terms and conditions that we first have to agree with so that we can proceed with a transaction or contract.
As most of us do not have instant access to a lawyer, or the time to sit and study a complicated set of terms and conditions, we invariably just click on agree!  Unfortunately by agreeing to whatever the document says can wave our rights to a fair deal!
Fortunately most companies will not use this opportunity to exploit their newly found customers.  Sadly though some will include various clauses that remove valuable rights in the future should you be dis-satisfied with the service.  For example, you will be clearly made aware of the length of the term you are signing up for (ie. 12 months), but contained in the small print may also include extra charges.  There may also be minimum cancellation periods.
A good example of this can be found with our franking machine supplier.  When the Royal Mail postal prices change in April each year, the franking machine company will charge you a significant amount of money to update their machine with the new rates.  This charge is not made clear to you unless you read the small print; I call it a hidden charge! In addition every time you add credit to the machine you pay an administration charge, and the machine has to dial up atleast once a month; otherwise it will stop working. These added charges and inconvenience detract from the benefit of the service.
I prefer to deal with honest companies who do not use what I call 'sharp practices' to make their margin.  Only deal with a company who provides clear charges and simple billing that you can understand!

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