At the end of this blog I’m going to list my top ten tips for things to check for regarding telecom related contracts and supplies.
I’m interested in your good and bad experiences with contracts, terms and conditions. Spread the word and see if we can help to get companies to behave fairly.
If there are any greasy sales person types who like to tie people into long contracts at exorbitant rates or generally exploit people reading this go watch the football or something, this is not for you and you won’t like it, the rest of you, please read on.
I am prompted to write this because of an announcement from a generally trustworthy supplier as follows:
“Ofcom have announced a recent regulatory update regarding automatically renewing contracts in relation to small business customers of 10 employees or less. From 31st December 2011 NEW customers (with 10 employees or less) cannot be signed into an automatically renewing contract unless the customer has opted in to the auto renew. From 31st December 2012 the auto renewal cannot be enforced for EXISTING customers unless the customer opts in.”
This in my humble opinion is a good thing. Don’t get me wrong, we need contracts because we cannot trust ourselves or at least we don’t know that we can. Contracts as I am sure you all know can be used or abused and the abuse of them is something I really do not like.
“It’s in the small print.” An old chestnut … if it’s in the small print and a piece of paper has been waved in front of you or you have been pointed to an obscure area of a web site where the T’s and C’s reside you must have read them, understood everything and memorised them so that you can remember every detail for the next 2 years along with the other 20 sets of T’s and C’s that you may have been presented with so far this year. This of course is not what usually happens, most of us do not read the small print and if we do it is seldom that we really understand the implications of it. We usually trust our supplier not to dupe us but of course they sometimes do. The T’s and C’s attached to contracts is a prime place to sucker your mark. It’s a kind of deceitful but legal confidence trick. Sometimes it is what they don’t say that catches you out.
If contracts are fair the chances are that you will not be unpleasantly surprised later on down the road if an issue arises even if it is not quite as you would like it. The pertinent points of a fair contract are usually few, simple and generally already what people are used to.
Contracts are there to protect both parties and in my opinion are best rolling monthly or on a 12 month basis with no restrictive notice window at the end of the initial contract. Yes, if there is a special deal in it and a longer term is needed to cover that deal and make an honest profit. Yes we need things defined so we have a point of reference should there be issues. Auto-renewal is ok as long as you retain your notice of termination anytime beyond the initial contract term.
Here’s one of my favourite extracts:
“The Agreement shall take effect from the date You sign the Agreement or verbally accept. The Agreement shall continue unless terminated in accordance with its terms or by either party giving to the other not less than THIRTY-SIX MONTHS’ prior written notice (in order to be valid, such notice must not expire before the end of the Initial Period set out in the Form). If You give thirty-six months’ notice to terminate You must switch the Telecom Services to another provider at the end of such notice period. If You have not transferred the Telecom Services to another provider within 30 days following the end of the notice period, You will be deemed to have withdrawn Your notice of termination and the Agreement shall continue in accordance with its terms.
If You purport to terminate the Agreement by giving less than THIRTY-SIX MONTHS’ prior written notice, You will be regarded as having committed a material breach which is incapable of remedy, for the purposes of clause 10.1.2, and We may choose to terminate the Agreement in accordance with that clause and claim damages from You pursuant to clause 10.4.”
Yes, you read that correctly. A small company signed into a 36 month contract with a 36 month notice period and should they manage to get the 36 months’ notice in at the start of a term they have 30 days to move to another provider or are back in term. Scandalous! I am really tempted to name them but that would probably be bad form on my part although I’m not sure it would take much convincing to get me to do so.
And so to my top 10 things to watch out for in telecom related contracts and supplies, this includes lines, calls, broadband etc. There are some fantastic suppliers out there that will sell you goods and services at fair prices and look after you to the best of their ability post sales and of course there are bad suppliers (often with very good sales teams). They will sell to you and then ignore you whenever anything goes wrong. They will only be interested in you when there is more money on the table for them. Short sited in my opinion but there you go. Again I could site examples but I will resist the temptation.
My top 10 things to watch out for:
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