“I have read the terms & conditions” … Tick! It’s the one lie we are all guilty of. The little box is unassuming, yet essential for everyone who purchases anything online or signs up for a mailing list. This pesky little box gets in the way of buying that new phone you’ve had your eye on for weeks now. Many online retailers won’t let you progress to the next page until you have checked this box.
Many people progress straight to the next page without taking the time to read the often lengthy document. Most of the time, Terms and Conditions don’t leave you wondering why they’re not being read.
A recent review of the terms and conditions for the Amazon Kindle found it took over nine hours to read them. That’s enough time to fly to Bali, order a mojito and lay in your beach-side cabana (just in case you wanted to do some light reading on the plane ride over). The review found that the contract contained approximately 73,198 words!
Blindly accepting these Terms and Conditions takes a short second. This split-second decision, however, can leave you open to exploitation for unreasonable terms and/or conditions associated with your purchase. Something as simple as purchasing an app on the App Store may not be too much of an issue. It’s when you’re purchasing a phone plan, insurance policy or an online subscription, that not reading the terms and conditions could leave you open to issues that you’re not even aware of.
“One particularly concerning clause in the Amazon contract locks consumers into an arbitration process in the US if they have an unresolved problem with their Kindle.” — Tom Godfrey, Choice Media Spokesperson
This kind of clause leaves many consumers confused about their legal rights. In Australia, defective products or faults are covered under Australian Consumer Law where a buyer has the right to be directly compensated by the manufacturer.
Having a nine-hour long terms and conditions section means that consumers forego reading what they’re accepting, and subject themselves to clauses and confusions like the one above.
In a recent move, Telstra has made a switch to a one-page summary of their terms and conditions to avoid this confusion, but this summary could have consequences of its own. Other businesses have made similar moves.
If you believe you have been subject to unfair terms & conditions, would like to have your terms & conditions reviewed, or if you would like to obtain legal advice before you agreed to any terms & conditions, please feel free to contact us on 02 8917 8700.