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Adii Pienaar

Now working on Receiptful. Co-Founder & ex-CEO of WooThemes. Author of Brandiing. New Dad. Ex-Rockstar.

Bullshit Terms

I just cancelled my broadband connection with my ISP, because I'm moving house and I can't use this service in the new area. I've been a customer of the ISP for years (both for home-use and for business-use) and would consider myself a higher-end customer (i.e. I don't use the cheapest packages).

I'm moving house in the middle of this month, so I figured I'd have the service cancel by the end of this month. This still means that I've effectively paid for something that I won't be able to use for 2 weeks of the month. But that's how the cookie crumbles.

I just got an e-mail from the ISP confirming the cancellation, but it also included a reminder. The Terms & Conditions of the service requires a calendar month's notice, which meant (as I sent the cancellation request on 5 December) that my service would be cancelled by 31 January 2014.

So they are making me pay for an additional month of the service, which I can't use. Wow - so much for any kind of customer loyalty or reward.


I'm sure you've been in a similar situation as a customer before: Terms & Conditions are used to disguise an incredibly bad customer experience.

In my example above, there's a couple of reasons why this sucks for me:

  • I never bothered the read the Terms & Conditions. This clause is hidden in fine print anyway and if I had read it and not agreed to it, I couldn't get the service. (I'm sure other providers would have similar clauses.)
  • I missed their "deadline" by 5 days. But hey, it's not like I've been planning a house move; so cancelling a broadband service wasn't top-most consideration.
  • There's no actual cost to them not cancelling my service this month and neither are they losing anything.
  • I'm not cancelling, because I'm trying to be a dick. I'm cancelling, because I have no choice and I can't use the service anymore.
  • I've been a loyal, profitable customer to them and I feel I should be rewarded with a bit of a compromise here.

The thing about (bullshit) Terms & Conditions are that they mostly always result in a really bad experience for your customers.

Yes, I've been on the other side too and have imposed bullshit terms on customers too as a way to a) protect my company; or b) exact the outcome that is most beneficial to me. But therein lies the problem exactly: those terms were mostly just beneficial to the company / me and not the customer.

Fair enough in that Terms & Conditions were designed to benefit the company that imposes it. I get that much. But I have a complete disdain of the (sometimes) reckless application of bullshit terms.

Terms & Conditions are there for worst-case scenarios, of which grey areas (as my situation above) are most probably not. For my ISP to make a compromise on how they decide to apply their terms here, there's no life-threatening consequence lurking around the corner.

In fact, if they were to have compromised and just complied to my (reasonable, IMO) request, they would've had a customer for life.

Instead, they have a really grumpy, former customer who won't be recommending them to any of his friends.


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