Warning! Don’t commit to contracts over the telephone! – make sure you know what is offered and your liabilities

We have all received calls both at home and work with offers of goods and services often made under pressure to “sign up now and receive a huge discount!”
 
However, it is very difficult to take in all the implications for what may seem a very good offer – initially.  Remember the saying, ‘If it appears too good to be true then it probably is.’
 
The telephone has its limitations but be aware that emails can also be a trap. Where you are asked to ‘e-sign’ a contract, you may be pulled into a commitment where often vast and complex terms and conditions (the ‘Small Print’) that you have no time (or possibly no inclination) to read can be turned into a one way street of misery, very quickly locking you tightly into the deal you did not understand or wish to agree.
 
It seems that businesses offering internet directories or other internet services use this method of business.  We have had many reports of so-called underhand practices, where certain companies rely on the receiver’s failure to look at the small print to trap them into paying sometimes staggering demands for very little return.
 
Unless you take the time to read the ‘small print’ and, of course you should, you may lock yourself into an automatic renewal if you don’t cancel within a narrow notice period.  This means you need to set a diary reminder to ensure you aren’t automatically rolled over for the following year, which may well be at a much higher price than the initial sign up fee. If you cancel in good time, you must send at least three letters, one by email, one by standard post and one by recorded delivery, as they will often claim never to have received the cancellation in time.
 
There are several businesses which use the telephone/e-signing system. You will recognise them when next they call you!
 
Our advice is:-

1.    Do not e-sign any contract before you have read and thoroughly understood the small print. (This applies to ALL contracts)

2.    Be very careful in what you say and never say “yes” if you do not know to what you are agreeing!

3.    Always ask for a clear statement of the cancellation terms and insist they put it in an email before you sign. (If they will not do that then you know you are dealing with tricksters!)

4.    Ask what the renewal rate will be and make them again put it in an email.

5.    Do not “click” on any box they offer you until you know what it is for!

Published: 08 Nov 2013

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To ensure you are a real person signing up and to prevent automated signups (spamming) could we ask you to copy the letters and numbers shown below into the box.

(cAse SeNSItivE!)

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