Many consumers nowadays choose to enter into service contracts online, as opposed to over the phone or physically going to the premises of a service provider. For example, some mobile phone providers, internet providers and many cable television providers allow consumers to enter into contracts for such services at the click of a mouse.
Given the ease at which consumers may enter into such contracts, there are very strict consumer protection laws in place. This article will outline the important factors which a consumer should take into account prior to entering into a service contract online.
The consumer should ensure he/she is provided with the following information prior to entering into a contract online:
– Clear details of all costs ,charges, taxes and fees
– “Opt in/opt out” boxes should not be “pre-ticked”
– Name and address of the supplier
– Information on cancellation rights
– Duration of the contract
– Terms and conditions in relation to termination of the contract
– How payment is to be made
Conditions of Cancellation
The cancellation or “cooling off” period is 14 days from the commencement date of the contract. A consumer can cancel the contract without having to give a reason.
It is important to bear in mind that some services are not covered by this “cooling-off”period, for example, hotel bookings, car rental and travel tickets.
Prior to entering into a contract for services online, a consumer should bear in mind the following:
– Do some research into the company you propose doing business with. For example, it may be a good idea to check online reviews/forums and ask family or friends if they have previously done business with the company
– Read the terms and conditions carefully, taking note in particular of cancellation and termination policies
– Take “screenshots” during the purchase process in order to keep records of all steps that have been taken
If things go wrong…
If a consumer is not satisfied with the service which has been purchased, it is important to make a complaint directly to the providing company as soon as the cause for complaint arises. Failing to allow the providing company the opportunity to put matters right, and/or failing to complain as soon as difficulties arise, could weaken a potential future legal action.
If the problem still has not be resolved in a satisfactory manner by the providing company, the consumer has no alternative but to seek legal advice. Again, it is essential that legal advice issought as quickly as possible.
Please contact us should you require further advice