Warning! Don’t commit to contracts over the telephone!

legal_updates

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.

Author: Dennis Chapman
Published:
Reading time: 3 minutes

This article is 8 years old.

Read our disclaimer keyboard_arrow_down

This website content is intended as a general guide to law as it applies to the motor trade. Lawgistics has taken every effort to ensure that the contents are as accurate and up to date as at the date of first publication.

The laws and opinions expressed within this website may be varied as the law develops. As such we cannot accept liability for or the consequence of, any change of law, or official guidelines since publication or any misuse of the information provided.

The opinions in this website are based upon the experience of the authors and it must be recognised that only the courts and recognised tribunals can interpret the law with authority.

Examples given within the website are based on the experience of the authors and centre upon issues that commonly give rise to disputes. Each situation in practice will be different and may comprise several points commented upon.

If you have any doubt about the correct legal position you should seek further legal advice from Lawgistics or a suitably qualified solicitor. We cannot accept liability for your failure to take professional advice where it should reasonably be sought by a prudent person.

All characters are fictitious and should not be taken as referring to any person living or dead.

Use of this website shall be considered acceptance of the terms of the disclaimer presented above.

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!

Dennis Chapman

In remembrance of Dennis Chapman 1951 -2015

Read more by this author

Getting in touch

You can contact us via the form or you can call us on 01480 455500.