Friday, March 20, 2009

Unfair contracts

Have you ever noticed how several businesses expect customers to sign one-sided contracts? These contracts leave the customer at the total mercy of the business. A large portion of such contracts is painfully devoted to explaining the rights of the business. The remaining part is dedicated to telling the customer that s/he has no rights whatsoever.

Then, to add insult to injury, the final clause will read something like this (taken from the terms & conditions of a famous tuition centre): "WE reserve the right to vary, modify, add or delete any of the above trems and conditions." Thus not leaving you in any doubt that you don't have any rights in dealing with this business entity.

And, if you point out such ridiculous contract clauses, the stock answer is: "This is our standard contract. Can not change. Company policy lah." What a standard! And some of them will have a look in their eyes which kind of says: "Accept this or get lost."

A contract by a 'reputed' car dealer which I saw vividly mentions penalties for the customer if s/he cancels the order. But, another clause made it clear that the dealer had unlimited rights to cancel the order without any notice and without any liability whatsoever.

A contract by a maid agency endlessly mentions the rights of the agency and the duties of the cutomer. Upon reading the contract, you will have no difficulty in understanding that if anything goes wrong, the agency will bear no responsibility.

The reasons are obvious. These contracts are drafted by lawyers who get paid by the businesses. Unsriprisingly, the lawyers will tend to protect their client while writing the contract rather than protecting the clients' customers. So, who protects the hapless customer then?

If you have come across such unilateral contracts shoved by businesses, please share.

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