Reading the terms and conditions of a contract has been named as one of the ten things that people can least be bothered to do – but if small businesses were to take such a lackadaisical approach then it could prove troublesome for them.
A BBC article put reading terms and conditions at number two in a top ten list of things consumers simply do not want to do. I suppose we’ve all been there at some time or other. When downloading some music that we’ve bought or when buying that last minute Christmas present online, many of us will have ticked the “I’ve read the terms and conditions” box without ever actually going through them with a fine-toothed comb.
Some T’s and C’s on consumer websites can be very long indeed, so it’s understandable why many consumers skip over them when making online transactions. Reading a supplier’s terms is not just important for consumers to know where they stand; it’s even more important for small businesses who are trading and seeking to be profitable.
Why Businesses Should Read Terms and Conditions
Although the BBC article was written with consumers in mind, the same “do I have to?” attitude to reading terms and conditions can sometimes be heard among small business owners and their suppliers.
T’s and C’s are very important when it comes to small business contracts and there are many benefits to be had from reading them and understanding their impact. Here are just a few:
• Avoid extra fees or charges – if you don’t read terms and conditions properly then you could end up paying extra. In order to avoid fees or charges that take you by surprise, it’s vital that you understand everything before signing on the dotted line.
• Ignorance is no excuse – although legislation exists to protect businesses from unfair contract terms, you won’t be able to challenge a clause that’s clearly written into a contract because you haven’t read it or “didn’t know it was there.”
• Make sure you get paid on time – you’ll want to ensure that payment terms are clearly laid out and that you know exactly when you can expect to be paid.
If you’re a small business owner and have concerns about the terms and conditions of a contract, you should seek expert legal advice. Slater and Gordon’s business services solicitors have many years’ experience in helping businesses in this area and we can help you understand how contractual terms will affect your business before you put pen to paper.
Katherine Niccol is a Business Services Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
For more information or expert legal advice from a business law solicitor, call Slater and Gordon Lawyers on freephone 0800 916 9052 or contact us online.