CAPE TOWN – Hands up those of you who enjoy reading the dreaded terms and conditions (Ts & Cs). Nobody? Thought as much. But Rami Sassen, chief executive of Teljoy, believes consumers must familiarise themselves with this crucial document or potentially be stuck in a legal quagmire, especially when it comes to credit.

Fundamentally, the Ts & Cs detail the rules that apply to fulfilling a contract, whether that is an agreement, arrangement, or activity. But wading through this essential piece of information is more likely to cure insomnia than provide an understanding of what will happen if any of the terms are not met.

An example of how this has become more of an inconvenience than considered the important legal document it is, can be seen around computer software. According to the Federation Against Software Theft, only 28 percent of people read the Ts & Cs before installing a piece of software. And admit it, we are all guilty of blindly clicking on ‘I Agree’ without even reading the opening sentence.

It is highly likely the same approach applies to other purchases including hire purchase agreements for furniture, taking out credit for that massive flat-screen television set, or even just understanding what is covered under a warranty. Many people often get into trouble because they do not bother to read and understand the Ts & Cs that govern the agreement and the product.

Before signing on the dotted line for anything, you must read and understand everything detailed in the document. Just because you had no idea a clause was there, does not give you legal recourse to challenge it after you agreed to it in the first place. 

This can translate to anything from additional fees or charges around a product, to being responsible for the costs involved in returning a faulty product purchased from, for example, an online store. For its part, even though Teljoy is an online store, it lets the customer upgrade, downgrade, or cancel and return the product at any time without having to pay hefty penalties.

When it comes to credit, the Ts & Cs will provide information on the interest you must pay, your annual fees, a grace period (or cooling off period) when you can return a product, and so on. It can also highlight the steps to be taken if you fail to make a payment and the legal ramifications to you that could result in a negative credit score and even repossession.

Far too often, sales or marketing campaigns for products focus on an ‘amazingly low price point’ or “pay 0 percent interest in the first three months” while providing a subtle link to the phrase “terms and conditions apply”. For example, in the latter instance, the consumer can then potentially pay significantly more interest over the period of the contract to make up for the shortfall created in the first three months.

So, contrary to popular belief, the fine print is one of the most important bits any consumer must read before committing to a purchase, whether that is on credit or through a rent-to-own option.

At Teljoy, we have tried to make the process as simple and user-friendly as possible. By making the Ts & Cs available on our Website, our customers can read through the information at their own pace and query anything they might be unsure of. Furthermore, we have provided useful tabs at the top of the page to easily link to the relevant sections for rental and our Easyfix maintenance plan.

Remember, this document is as much a tool that can be used for your advantage, providing the peace of mind needed that what you see is what you are signing up and paying for.