Do Terms & Conditions make you want to scream?

Terms and conditions are a common theme across consumer complaints

At FairWay we have several services that centre around consumer complaints, including Building and construction disputes, Financial Dispute Resolution Service, iStudent Complaints and Telecommunications Dispute Resolution services.

Our team deal with disputes over terms and conditions daily. We often hear phrase like ‘this makes me want to scream’ or ‘if I had of known this...’ and often those disputes become the most contentious ones.

“You may want to run screaming for the hills when you see lengthy terms and conditions, but it is worth going through them with a fine-tooth comb before you sign. My biggest piece of advice to consumers is always read the terms and conditions.  Particularly as they relate to how much you will be billed and under what circumstances.  Also, it’s critical to understand what options you have to end the contract,” says Jennifer Mahony, Client Director of Telecommunications Dispute Resolution.

“We’ve seen countless complaints that have centred over T&Cs. Once a contract is signed, the terms are binding on both parties. Save yourself any potential distress or misunderstanding by having a good read before signing and asking any questions that you may have,” said Jennifer.

What should you look out for?

“You want to have a good understanding of the service or product that you are purchasing. Depending on the specifics of that service or product, you might want to clarify if there is a termination date, what the expected usage or level of service is and how you can resolve any issues that may occur,” recommends Jennifer.

It is also important to understand the real-world consequences of issues that are most important to you.

“Ask what would happen if your circumstances changed and you can’t keep your obligations. For example, what would happen if you cancelled your contract six months in, or if you want to make changes to your building plans, or your course of study is no longer available—posing scenarios is a great way to understand the real consequences of issues that may be important to you,” says Denise Evans, Client Director for FairWay’s Commercial Services.

Trevor Slater, Client Director for the Financial Dispute Resolution Service agrees.

“At the end of the day, the terms and conditions of your contract also define what kind of relationship you have with your service provider.  Make sure you understand what kind of relationship you have before you sign on the dotted line.”

About FairWay

FairWay is New Zealand’s largest specialist conflict management and dispute resolution organisation. Each year, we handle over 14,000 disputes, reviews and enquiries. For more information visit or contact us on 0800 77 44 22.