Terms and conditions, the legal binding agreements between a service provider and an individual who wants to use a service or disclaimers regarding the use of services are often ignored and unread. These documents are used by organisations which provide software or services such as web browsers, web search engines, e-commerce, mobile investment platforms, transport services, cryptocurrency, amongst others. Terms and Conditions make it easy for an organisation to spell out what it expects from consumers, what they are not allowed to do with the organisation’s service or website and how they can handle legal problems or ceasing to do business with your organisation.
The Term and Conditions agreement is not legally required but it helps organisations increase control over their platforms and helps consumers understand rules, requirements and restrictions. The agreement usually includes an introduction, rights, user guidelines, copyright and intellectual property, governing law, warranty disclaimer, limitation of liability, termination of service and contact information. Terms and Conditions usually contain details on payment, shipping policies, return policy, closure of account, laws governing the agreement and whether to share or not share content. The terms and conditions agreement provides a set of rules that govern the use of service platforms for both organisations and consumers.
For consumers, the terms and conditions agreement has many advantages. The agreement lets you know your rights as a consumer and tells you how to opt of a service. It details dispute resolution processes and shows how you can take up misuse of data or your money as a case in court. The terms and conditions makes you aware if you can use content from an organisation’s website and the possible consequences of using such content if it is prohibited. The agreement helps prevent spamming and trolling on sites, by informing consumers that such behaviour will result In deactivation of their accounts.
Most term and conditions agreements are ignored and unread because of the length of text. According to a research conducted on 500 most visited websites in September 2018, 70 percent of Terms and Conditions agreements have average sentence lengths of over 25 words, where 25 or less is required for consumer readability. Also the median Flesch Reading Ease(FRE) score was 34, where over 60 is considered readable by consumers. Most people don’t read terms and conditions because they are lengthy paragraphs filled with legal terms that most people do not understand.
The University of Connecticut did an interesting study that revealed that a whooping 98 percent of people agreed to a false terms and conditions agreement that required them to give up their first born children. The reluctance of many consumers to read terms and conditions before clicking the agree button is dangerous: you could be agreeing to have your data misused, or money deducted from your bank account. I hope that in the nearest future, organisations hire writers that will draft readable terms and conditions for consumers. Until that day comes, always read the terms and conditions agreement before you agree to use a service. Those lengthy paragraphs could save you from a lot of trouble: do not ignore your terms and conditions agreement.