Daniel Liddicott
Sept 2023  •  3 min read

The small print

Have you ever signed a contract without reading the small print? If so, you may have missed some important details that could affect your rights and obligations. The small print, also known as the terms and conditions, is the part of a contract that contains the specific and often complex details of an agreement. It may include clauses on fees, penalties, warranties, exclusions, limitations, dispute resolution, and more. Reading the small print can help you avoid unpleasant surprises, protect your interests, and make informed decisions.

Prior to a house move last year, we were encouraged by the estate agents to consider using One Utility Bill, a company who (as their name suggests) amalgamates all of your utility bills into a singular monthly direct debit. Drawn in by the idea of easy setup and management, as well as a call with a convincing salesperson over the phone, we signed up to this service on a 12-month contract. We proceeded to provide meter readings through their online portal.

Our bills were fixed at a relatively high rate though, with the cost-of-living crisis being at the forefront of everyone’s minds, we were happy to know exactly what we were paying for the term, with expected rebates should we overpay against our usage.

Fast forward to the end of the contract, at which point we had decided to go directly to providers instead and had given our required 30 days’ notice. When informing them that we were leaving, we were informed that no refunds for overpayment would be given – something that was not made clear or even mentioned during the sign-up process.

Sure enough, further inspection of the Terms & Conditions showed that this was the case, though they had not been forthcoming with this information during the sales process and the T&C document was sent to us post-sign up. Had we read the small print, even after having just signed up, we would have been able to cancel the contract within the cooling off period.

We had been paying at least £100 more than we should have been each month. An expensive mistake to make.

Reading the small print may seem tedious and time-consuming, but it can save you a lot of trouble and money in the long run. Remember, a contract is a legally binding document that can affect your rights and responsibilities. Therefore, it is important to read it carefully and understand what you are agreeing to. Make sure that you know what you are getting into before you sign on the dotted line!