Saturday, June 30, 2012

Working Smarter: Do You Read Terms of Service?

Feedback suggests that most people do not read terms of service. When they download something from the Internet, sign up for a social media site, buy Internet hosting plans or do just about anything else.

Most people, and I'm no different, simply do a quick scan and click the "I agree" button. While most often nothing bad happens as a result, you are signing a contract that is enforceable at law and if your relationship goes bad, could lead to dire consquences.

A young employee recently asked me for advice regarding a pay-for-service television contract he had entered. He wanted to discontinue the service, but had been told that to break the contract would cost him $250. He said he thought that was unfair and couldn't afford it.

When  I asked him to show me the contract he had signed, it clearly stated that to break the contract would incur a fee of $250. He had not read the contract and was not therefore aware of it. We worked out how many monthly payments he had to go before the contract expired and compared it with the $250. I turned out that if he kept the service until the contract expired, it would be cheaper than paying $250 to disconnect.

So, he kept the contract going, didn't renew it when it expired and hopefully learnt something from his experience.

Unfortunately, terms of service tend to be long winded, which puts us off reading them. However, for our own protection we should read every line and decide whether we really want to agree with them. Sometimes there are opportunities to negotiate different terms, but one would need to contact the firm concerned to see if that is possible.

Do you read terms of service? Have you had a bad experience because you didn't read them? Why not let us know.



  1. Bernie7:35 AM

    Terms of service etc are purposely written with so much jargon and content that people won't read them.

  2. They do tend to be too long winded and full of legalese, but it's important to read them or at least to scan the content and focus on stuff of interest.

    Thanks for posting Bernie.


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