The Oddest Place You Will Find Terms and Conditions
By Molly Cronin
We all know terms and conditions and contracts are beginning to crop up everywhere, we’re living in an increasingly litigious world. They are necessary to be able to sue people against and get your own way. If you’re agreeing to anything and not questioning if there are any terms in place, or if you are not making sure that yours apply then you could be landing yourself in hot water.
So where is the oddest place you will find terms and conditions?…
The oddest one for me is when you are parking – believe it or not! You see those signs that tell you how to pay and display, or how long you can park for… there will be some small print on there…“by parking here you accept these terms and conditions for parking” is a typical one. The small print might be written there, or might just direct you to somewhere else, whether it’s a web page or available on request, they only have to make you aware of it, not necessarily tell you everything. This is another reason why ignorance is not necessarily bliss, you can’t use ‘I didn’t read it’ as a defence, you have still entered into the contract.
There is also often terms and conditions on purchase orders and delivery notes – the kind that manages to get you back on their terms even if you had issued yours. At such a late stage it can be unusual or unexpected but often the person with the last word wins. The law is changing and this isn’t always the case, but is more often than not deemed to be the way things work. It can be particularly odd if you are performing niche work or services and their terms are standard for all their purchasing, it may be based around things like stationery and make no sense to the things you are doing. It will be particularly hard to make these things work for you and protect against the specifics that happen in your industry. At this point in the transaction, it might be the last thing you expect but check what you are signing carefully and ensure every piece sent over by your client is read thoroughly for small print!
Competitions can be another odd one. You think you have entered this raffle, or answered these questions to win £1000 or a holiday abroad which sounds simple right? Not always. There are often terms and conditions involved, which might say anything, making it near-impossible to actually win the prize! You might have won the prize but have to jump through hoops or possibly even pay extra to be given the prize. It is rare that there are no terms and conditions involved in these cases as they need to make sure that they are up to date with competition law, and ensure that they only have to fork out for the prize once, that they only have to give to one person that is duly deserving of it!
Advertising is a fun one. Not only are terms and conditions something they have to think about, but also advertising standards and making sure they are not breaching the laws on this. Often there is tiny writing at the bottom of the screen on TV ads, it may scroll through quickly or is faint and clearly placed so as to be hidden, however is definitely there. This also links to the competitions. Reality TV shows often have competitions running before ad breaks, they always have T’s and C’s – and lots of them!
It doesn’t necessarily have to be written T’s and C’s either, like the above examples, radio ads do them too. There are very strict rules on how noticeable they need to be, hence why you will actually hear and notice these. You will often hear “terms and conditions apply, selected stores and subject to availability” it will be very sped up and not list all of the terms or exclusions as that would be unrealistic, not something you want to listen to, and not commercially viable as you pay per second on the radio! As long as you are made aware of it, you are bound by it if you enter into it.
Where is the strangest place you have come across terms and conditions and have you been caught out before?
If you don’t want to get tied into terms and conditions in your business, you may prefer to consult with a professional who can protect your business interests and save you money. We offer a contract review and support service. Full details are available on our website: www.bebconsultancy.co.uk