Signing on the dotted line is an every day occurrence for us whether it’s deliveries, bills or banking, so it’s no surprise that every now and then we’re all guilty of not reading the documents thoroughly, or even worse, not being confident enough to challenge something you don’t understand.
It’s no different to outside of work where hand on heart, how many can say they always read the terms and conditions before clicking accept?
The difference is, consumer agreements are standardised, they are tried and tested with an audience of millions, and when things do go wrong there’s Citizens Advice, there’s the Financial Conduct Authority and there’s the Financial Ombudsman Service. Depending on the size and set-up of your business, none of these organisations may be able to help you in a dispute.
Business contracts on the other hand are often specific and have to fit in with the many cogs that make your business run. In short, the room for error or for misunderstanding is larger and the stakes are higher. Several years ago, I signed a contract to have a cash machine service added to my store, it was only after I saw bills for not meeting minimum usage fees coming through in the following months that I realised I’d made a mistake. Exiting the contract early was expensive and disruptive, and it all could have been avoided if I’d spotted the clause in the first instance.
The same goes for phone calls, we get them for everything – utilities, suppliers, business rates appeals and services. Sometimes it might even be something you’ve been looking for anyway, calling at an opportune time with the right offer, but before saying yes, make sure you ask the right questions, and get them to email you with the terms.
Some companies take a verbal agreement over the phone as contractually binding, so treat the word yes with the same consideration you’d give to your signature.
– Bay Bashir is a retailer from Middlesbrough