How many of us have ‘signed on the dotted line’ or consented to the Terms and Conditions without reallyknowing what we have agreed to? Contracts can carry a great deal of risk for consumers, especially as they are often formed at a distance (i.e. when ordering a product online). This method of contract denies you – the consumer – an opportunity to ask the supplier questions or have the ‘Terms and Conditions’ fully explained to you.
Many companies offer attractive sign-up deals, including generous discounts or a free gift; however this can disguise the true nature of the contract. For example, you might find that you have now consented to pay a monthly subscription fee to their website or signed up to a lengthy contract without understanding the cancellation terms. It is therefore very important to read the ‘Terms and Conditions’, and if you do not understand, do not sign-up. A client recently had major difficulties with a company over its terms and conditions and she stated that the “situation made me extremely stressed”.
Face-to-face consumer contracts also carry risks. Being present gives the supplier the advantage of persistence, and owing to politeness, it can often be difficult to say no. Therefore, if you feel that you are being pressured and you do not fully understand, ask for more time. Take their details, seek help if necessary, and contact them again if you still wish to proceed.
You can get further advice from Citizens Advice Cotswold District which is open Monday-Thursday, 10am-3pm for drop-in sessions, and 10am-4pm for phone calls. To contact Citizens Advice Cotswold District, call: 0808 800 0511. Alternatively, visit our website for information or to find your local office: http://www.citizensadvice-stroudandcotswold.org.uk/stroud-cab-online-advice.php The Citizens Advice Consumer Service is also available to give advice on: 03454 04 05 06 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm).