We’ve all done it – signed an agreement without fully realising what we were signed up for or gone onto a website without knowing what the terms and conditions are that we supposedly read. However, there are some reasons why you need to be aware of what you are signing up for.

The problem

Recent statistics have shown that only 7% of people have said they have fully read the terms and conditions before signing something while by contrast a fifth of people said they have suffered because they failed to properly read the things they were signing.

A few problems that can occur include:

• Being in a longer contract than you might realise
• Losing out on money due to not being able to cancel or amend bookings
• May have to pay to return unwanted goods
• In one extreme version on April Fools’ Day 2010, Gamestation even managed to get people to agree to sell their soul!

While the last one may be a bit silly it does prove a point – a lot of people are in such a rush to get things done they don’t always realise what they are doing.

Fixed doesn’t always mean fixed

One good example of this are “fixed term contracts.” What is confusing is that just because a contract says it is fixed doesn’t mean prices remain fixed. For example, with a broadband contract companies may have differing views on “fair usage” and this could result in extra charges you don’t see coming.

Another element is what’s known as “exclusions”. Be wary of suspiciously low priced insurance policies – always check to make sure that what you are covered for is in fact covered!

Have you opted out?

Another trick is a free trial that runs out – this is common with TV channel subscriptions. You have to put your card details in to them in order to get the free trial. What you may not know is that if you don’t say you want to cancel it the contract will automatically renew and you will be charged for it.

If in doubt, ask

If a contract is unclear you should ask. The law for contracts say that they should be in clear language. Unfortunately when writing a contract inevitably it will be worded in the favour of the seller. Don’t be embarrassed however – you need to make sure you know what it is you have signed up for.

Alternatively, you can also talk to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau who can clarify any issues you may not be aware of. They are there to give you an idea of what your rights are and can offer help.

If you still feel that your consumer rights have been breached and want to know more about your legal rights please contact us today and we’d be happy to discuss this with you. We believe in being big enough to specialise but small enough to care.

What this means is we have the resources and specialist knowledge to help you but equally we want to talk with you and help guide you through your options. Talk to one of our specialists today and we’ll be happy to discuss your case in more detail.