Terms And Conditions

In the ‘olden days’, customer relations management (CRM) was designed to entice customers to stay with a supplier. Now in the modern era it seems this mantra has almost disappeared.

The rise of the comparison sites fed the inevitable desire to avoid being screwed by your existing supplier. Car, house, travel insurance for example saw the renewal hiked in the knowledge most of us would take it as a given and not bother to review things.

Virtually every contract needed to be scrutinised at the renewal point as virtually every supplier applied the ‘screw you’ algorithm. But there is spark hovering common sense, the emergence of CRM and OK some smokey legislation are outlawing the practice. Suppliers are having a minor rethink – until a new way to screw you has evolved. But as testament to the bad old days the above notice gives potential customers the terms and conditions placed on all customers wanting to buy a new pair of Adidas trainers in Singapore. Wow is all I can say.

Terms & Conditions Bite Shoppers

The joy of shopping with corporate Terms & Conditions.

There is something amiss with large corporations. Nothing to do with corporation taxes this time, which many have skilfully avoided; no today’s beef is terms & conditions (T&C’s) that exclude huge chunks of what we might reasonably expect.

The ‘appen law states the single measure of a company’s size is directly proportional to the length of their T&C’s. A pack of corporate lawyers sit in large offices thinking up new ways the company can absolve themselves from every know eventuality. And a few extra-terrestrial possibilities.

As a consumer the only term worth considering is the “no quibble guarantee” offered by a few operations. Those whose T&C’s extend over 10 pages of A4 more than likely have spent sleepless nights dreaming up new clauses, and yes I know that’s a contradiction of terms but it rather fits the situation. If you are on tube going to work and spot some poor soul having a eureka moment you can bet it’s a corporate lawyer who has just hit on another get-out clause to add to their T&C’s.

The big boys have the upper hand; sign and accept else you can’t go further with that company. At least these guys are explicit rather hiding details up a tree or 10 feet up a wall like the car parks cowboys. But equally there companies who shove their T&C ‘s  in your face in such a way you will establish a frustrated queue if you attempt to to read them. And our prize this week goes to Westfield shopping malls.

The image above shows the T&C’s involved with the use of their car park at their malls. Now I may have got this all wrong, which is a frequent occurrence in my world, but I thought that shopping malls want shoppers. They build vast car parks to make it easier to visit. They build lifts escalators and travelators to whisk you into their cash environment. But they also have legal beagles beavering away ( I know – yet another – a mixed metaphor) who ensure they opt out of anything that may happen to your car whilst giving them cash. Now I will accept there are some shysters mixed with your average honest shopping Joe and Joanne. They park in mums and kids, senior and disabled bays without just cause or reason. They are also the evil knobs who stage crash for cash or whiplash claims on insurance companies that we all eventually pay for in increased premiums. But the other 98 per cent of us are quite law abiding, potentially.

Back to our friends at Westfield. They have placed their extensive T&C’s right where you can read them. In your face as you pick up the car park entry ticket. Now I reckon it will take you five minutes to read, five minutes to re-read the clever clauses, and five minutes to analyse the potential risk in each term before and  proceed. You can’t get out without a huge negotiation exercise to convince the 10 car queue behind to reverse. So you proceed. Westfield et al. have won; they are excluded whilst you have committed to all manner of risks at your peril, and the corporate games committee grab the prize.

Next week we look at introducing a new division to the Oscars, the best set of T&C’s in the world, including those illegible sub titles exclusions that are squashed across the bottom of your TV screen whilst the ‘voice over’ offers you a wonderful deal which actually then made virtually worthless.