Read the fine print when getting cell phone contracts

Read the fine print when getting cell phone contracts

The fine print is a part of life now. It is the reason why we must spend hours combing through every contract in which we participate, and why people with bad eyesight must never read print advertisements. It is legal up to a certain extent to have these on contracts, but this extent is loosely-defined enough that the various lawyers who write up these binding documents can put them around without a problem.

Cell phone contracts are not immune to fine print, and indeed they can dupe consumers into paying far more than they have to, or get them into agreements that they did not fully understand. As a rule, always read everything in a contract, but especially with something that causes you to regularly pay money over a certain period of time, like what postpaid plans require you to.

Without reading fine print, it becomes very easy to miss the fact that, for example, the trial period of a particular plan is 14 days instead of 30 days, with the latter being relatively standard and easy to assume. It also becomes easy to think that changes to a plan automatically extend a phone contract, when the reality is that most carriers do not do this. Rollover minutes, an amenity that should be present in any reasonable postpaid plan, are also mostly absent in many carrier plans – a fact that would easily be understood if the fine print were to be checked.

The things above are all real items written in fine print on certain carrier contracts. They’re easy to miss when entering an agreement, and could amount to a lot of inconvenience and frustration over the course of a contract. But what about the parts of the contract that says what the carrier is allowed to do? The fine print in some carriers says that they reserve the right to modify the terms of the contract with little or no advance notice. They may even do so with no notice at all (though this skirts legal boundaries), and you may one day find yourself with fees that you never knew existed – because they did not exist, in fact, not until a few days ago maybe when the company decided to charge you for breathing.

Other contracts will automatically renew themselves if not cancelled, when the opposite should be true for any reasonable consumer. Companies that do this seem to be assuming that you want them to take your money, and they’ll very quietly inform you on print so small that you can hardly read it even with a magnifying glass. Still others will not inform very clearly about how long the binding time is, and it may range from six months to two years, with pricey cancellation fees ready to greet you if you decide to jump ship early.

In short, there’s a great deal of trouble waiting if you don’t completely understand the terms of your cell phone contract. You could be made to pay extra, or you might think that there are features in the contract that are actually suppressed by a finely-printed retraction.