Mind your T’s and C’s
You’re doing a spot of online shopping and are about to hit the ‘buy’ button to get your new purchase when up pops “Please accept the terms and conditions.” Be honest - do you read them? Or do you just click on “I agree” without even giving them a second thought?
Why bother reading the terms and conditions?
Every time you agree to buy something you are entering into a contract. Even if the agreement is verbal, it is still a contract. The terms and conditions are as much a part of the contract as what you are buying and how much you have to pay. So, if you don’t know what the terms and conditions are, you don’t really know what you are agreeing to.
The terms and conditions need to be decided before you agree to make the purchase. So before you agree to buy, read them and decide if you accept them or would like to change or add some. After you agree to the purchase it is still possible to ask to change the contract – but the seller may refuse your request.
What should I look out for?
Watch out for any terms or conditions that are deal breakers. You might be signing up for future purchases, you might be cancelling any previous conditions that you thought were there, or you might be agreeing to extra cost that you weren’t alerted to.
If there is something dodgy in the contract then get it taken out if you can. Check the exceptions, especially for insurance and warranties. The terms and conditions might exclude certain types of damage, or there might be requirements to get the product checked regularly – like getting a car serviced, getting jewellery settings checked, or getting a health check-up.
When looking at T’s & C’s some important things to check are:
- what you have to do
- any exceptions
- things that cancel the contract
- anything different from what you agreed on
- anything that stops you from using the product how you want to.
DIY terms and conditions
You can make your own terms and conditions but it is up to the trader to agree to them. You can make terms about when purchase needs to arrive by, you can add conditions around what will happen if in a few days if you don’t like it.
You can put conditions on any type of purchase you make. This includes private sales which are not covered by the Consumers Guarantee Act or the Fair Trading Act. So if you are buying things from a private person on the internet or a garage sale, you can put in your contract that if the product doesn’t work, you can return it and get your money back.
Get any agreements that protect or benefit you in writing. This makes it much easier to prove if there is a problem later. If you entered into contract through a misrepresentation, you may be able to use the Contractual Remedies Act to get your money back.
Hidden terms and conditions
If something important about the agreement is hidden in ten pages of very small print in the terms and conditions then you might be able to argue that the trader was misleading under the Fair Trading Act.