In my (unscientific) straw poll of attendees at a recent webinar on construction contracts, not a single person admitted to always reading every set of terms and conditions, or T&C.
It’s hardly surprising. From the thousands of people who have been in my audience when I asked that question, in person or virtually, none can honestly say they read all the terms they sign up to. Occasionally, someone says they read every set of business T&C, but that’s not the same as the ones for social media platforms, train tickets, or their home electricity supply!
Studies have shown only 1 in a thousand read online T&C!
While I am geeky enough to have read many sets of terms and conditions, love having a nosey into contracts sent by clients for review, and have rewritten the Twitter Terms of Service into just 97 words, even I don’t read them all!
What’s the good news?
At the start of the session nearly 10% of the group said they never read T&C and another 40% said they didn’t really read them, except maybe for business. We discussed some of the simple steps they could take to make contracts work for them, such as:
- starting to read their contracts – not all are complex, wordy and scary
- challenge and delete jargon or terms they don’t understand
- review the scope, trust, aims and risks in the contract
- ensure they get contracts signed before they start work – they are business critical not a dispensable luxury
- use them (especially once they have helped make them simple).
I busted the myth of a watertight contract, helped them see how contracts should work for them, and identified some showstoppers to sidestep. Afterwards, 100% of the audience said they would do all or some of these suggested actions – although perhaps not all at once!
What should you do?
Take control of your contracts. Simples.