On-line agreements: do you know what you have agreed to?
How often do you read the terms and conditions of your agreements when you sign for or buy services and goods on-line? Have you read all the privacy conditions on your newly purchased smart phone, TV, or wearable device? Do you fully understand your contractual agreement with your bank, internet provider, or your car loan?
The Consumer Council of Canada has claimed that both Canadian businesses and consumers face risk from poorly understood terms and conditions statements. They have outlined the following key facts:
A large number of consumers do not read or understand the terms and conditions statements that they agree to. Consumers cite the complexity and length of these statements as core to their decision to ignore them. Statements often have one-sided wording, leaving consumers with little choice but to accept.
- Most consumers are at risk due to misunderstanding online terms and conditions statements and the liabilities they assume, including privacy risks. Misunderstood agreements could find their legal standing challenged by consumers.
- Complex terms and conditions statements may undermine the trust between consumers and businesses and consumers report feeling that companies with complex terms and conditions do not have their best interests in mind. The report cautions that businesses are undermining their relationships with their customers and that rights-consciousness among consumers is growing.
To this end, the Consumers Council of Canada has made 12 key recommendations, from including plain language summaries, to allowing consumers to print, email and save agreements, to writing headlines and tables of contents in the “consumer voice” to facilitate understanding. You can visit the their Website and access the full report at the following link: