CHOICE membership

Unfair contract terms

We’re calling time on dodgy practices in the insurance industry.Sign the petition for fairer insurance:

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CHOICE was in Canberra earlier in the week with Consumer Action Law Centre to present the above petition for fair insurance. It’s been signed by over 20,000 people so far, calling on the federal government to close the loophole that allows insurers to deny claims due to dodgy terms and conditions.

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Choice is requesting Community members input in relation to their submission to the Government regarding unfair contract terms.

Hi XXXX,

Have you ever read the terms and conditions of a consumer contract and thought to yourself – this doesn’t sound fair? We want to hear from you.

A few years ago, CHOICE supporters like you helped convince the government to ban unfair contract terms in consumer contracts, like those found in many pet insurance policies. Now the government is considering implementing the final piece of the puzzle by introducing fines for companies that do the wrong thing.

I’m currently writing to the government to ensure that these laws are as strong as possible, but we need to show them powerful examples of unfair contract terms to drive the point home. This is a different kind of email, so read on if you’re up for a challenge.

I’m trying to find the most outrageous examples of unfair contract terms in consumer contracts. These are terms that seem to give all the power to the company, are difficult to understand or are impossible to comply with. We’ve found examples across all kinds of industries, including in electricity contracts, online dating apps and insurance contracts.

Peter, do you remember seeing an unfair contract term recently? For more information and to share an example, fill out this quick form:

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Prefer to email us your example? Simply reply to this email or contact campaigns@choice.com.au

So what makes a contract term unfair?

Unfair contract terms are those that give companies all the power and leave you with none. Some of the examples we have found include:

  • An internet provider that claimed it could “change prices or services at any time without prior notice to customers or the public” as well as “terminate any account at any time with or without cause or reason”
  • An energy company that claimed it could vary the tariffs and charges set out in a contract, or introduce new tariffs and charges, “for any reason”.

You might not have seen them – and that’s ok! Thanks for reading this and I’ll keep you up to date with what happens next regardless. If you do want to get involved, fill out this form or reply to this email to share your example.

\ 100x100 Thanks for your support,

Dean Price
CHOICE

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Thanks for sharing this Fred! I was just about to post a request but you beat me to it.

If you’ve ever read the terms and conditions of a consumer contract and thought to yourself – this doesn’t sound fair then I want to hear from you.
I’ve found examples of unfair contract terms across all kinds of industries, including in electricity contracts, online dating apps and insurance contracts. I think that there are probably hundreds of examples from apps and games for mobiles and tablets.
If you have spotted an unfair contract term in a consumer contract then I’d really appreciate it if you could share your example here: www.choice.com.au/unfaircontractsresearch
Thanks in advance!

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I once had one on a rental contract, that you must keep the home phone connected all the time, I know why back then the reason they wanted it to be, as telstra would move cables to another place, if they were not being used. Even back then it was against the tenancy act of NSW to have such a clause in a lease, it was unlawful

I can attest to the reality that having a phone and ADSL connected never stopped Telstra from ‘borrowing’ active cables. If the records showed the line was not in use, no test needed, they grabbed it. This coupled with (anecdotally from personal experience without evidence) some Telstra techs who were reputed to ‘borrow’ lines from active customers to fix a broken one. Time to repair the broken one looked good :frowning: regardless how it was done.

When you reported your own fault the process could repeat in a whack-a-mole manner until someone finally replaced a faulty cable (or port).

I had multiple instances of that over years with the worst down being 11-days because techs did not always update records of what went where to who.