Look out for Auto-Renewing Contracts

Read your Contracts

We are an impatient generation of result seekers and next clickers. EULA? Terms and Conditions? No, thank you. This isn’t really meant for me to read, is it? Because it’s written in a foreign tongue. Your legal team has no doubt spent hours wording and rewording whatever makes up this fine print, but show me the check box; let me start on your captcha; tell me where to sign; give me my service. After all, do we have any choice in the matter? I’ll read fiction, maybe some news, rumors and product descriptions, but if there’s a next button – that takes priority. If I were you, however, I’d read the rest of this post.

As consumers, we are now acclimated to do whatever we need to do to receive services for monies paid. There is progress in clicking the next button – satisfaction in getting something done. We enjoy it, do we not? Installing software requires you to accept whatever language the EULA asks; signing up for any type of service, free or otherwise, provided by a corporation has terms and conditions that we are required to acknowledge. Door number two, perhaps? The one labeled Back or Decline, well that’s not a valid option – that action halts my progress bar. In fact, now I need to start all over. Every FAQ, online guide, technical manual, customer rep, sales agent, and even your favorite tech relative has told you to take door number one without a single hint of the fine print when you turn that knob. More like Terms and Conditioning.

One of the most devious fine print terms invented by the corporate legal team is the where your one-time initial acknowledgment auto renews at the end of the term for another full term with the existing conditions originally agreed upon. This could be for hosting a website, getting internet access, or as simple as a gardening service. Your website might be obsolete, internet speeds may as well be dial-up, and your garden has shriveled due to a plague outside of contract conditions, but you didn’t read the fine print and you will start paying on the new two year term or elect to break the contract with an outrageous termination fee.

Most of the time, we do not have a choice. There isn’t a yes, no, or maybe option for each term or a negotiation over the conditions of your surrender – if you want the service, sign here. We may not have control in that matter, but we do have choices. We can choose to be smart consumers and shop around for new and updated services. Pay attention to contract terms and keep track of your dates. Cancel your old and outdated services before they auto renew. Renegotiate… albeit by signing under another dotted line, but at least by your choice and on your terms.

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