Inspec Insights

Does the Fine Print Really Matter?

by Holly Ruark-Laughlin, Office Manager

We’ve all been there.  You want something- a service perhaps. You do your due diligence - research.  Now comes the time to narrow down your options and request a quote.   Quotes from many different vendors all vying for your business.  What matters to you now is the bottom line, right? You have requested the same service to take place from each of the vendors - so the quotes should all be the same....or are they?

What is normally printed in not so easy to read, very small print - at the very bottom of  the document, spanning sometimes 2 or 3 pages, and are just skimmed over by the average consumer are Terms and Conditions.  Terms and conditions spell out what is acceptable to the Seller, what needs to be accepted by the Buyer, the product or service, delivery information, and payment terms.   They protect both parties from entering into a purchase agreement with differing expectations. Terms and conditions can make or break a business transaction. 

At minimum, terms and conditions should cover, 3 main areas: price, payment terms and warranty information.  However, depending on the goods or services these areas may differ.  .  The most obvious is pricing information, this is sometimes the most important factor and holds the most weight when a consumer wants to make a purchase.  Pricing can be deceiving when you factor in the terms and conditions.   Sometimes the cheapest price isn’t necessarily the best deal, the terms and conditions may offer you a lot more...or a lot less than you were expecting.

Payment terms provide a schedule of when monies should be exchanged in relation to the goods or services being delivered.  The terms and conditions should state when a down payment is required, the number of days acceptable that payment in full must be made and any special terms specifically agreed upon between the Buyer and Seller.

Lastly, warranty information should be noted. Many products have manufacturer warranties, but services can have warranties as well.   These are important to know in case a product fails due to no fault of your own or a service didn’t fix the problem it was supposed to.

A well written set of terms and conditions, that cover these topics, offers both parties the peace of mind that an honest deal has been struck.   When both parties feel that the agreement is a win-win, the commerce cycle continues.

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