John Redhead

Every time I order something over the Internet I always make a copy of the terms and conditions, or frequently asked questions (FAQ’s). Why? Because your vendor may just change the goalposts.

Let me explain. A few years ago I was buying a new camera. Nikon was offering a £50 cashback, by completing a printed-off form on their website. I duly did this, copying the terms and conditions as I always do.

I purchased my camera from Pixmania, who had the best offer and I sent the form off and waited for my cheque to arrive. I did receive an envelope 3 weeks later, but the letter inside stated. “Your purchase needed to be made from store located from within the UK, so you do not qualify for the cashback promotion.”

Pixmania do or did have a store in London, but their products were imported from their warehouse located in France.

Now I know I had read the terms and conditions, so I checked them to see. One paragraph had been amended to read pretty much, that the purchase had to be made from within the UK.

I sent an email to Nikon and stated that they had changed their terms and conditions since I had submitted my application for the cashback promotion, and I included the screengrabs that I had taken. I was then sent an apology along with a cheque for £50.

But why am I writing this post 4 years after I purchased this camera?

The same thing has happened today. I purchased a year long subscription to a stock flash file website. The terms as they stood at the time of purchase were that I could use these files:

“…attaining a Regular License that will allow you to use the respective files in any number of custom projects, made for yourself or a client. This covers most typical uses of stock flash files.”

I’ve just been back on to their website and they’ve now got a ‘commercial license’ link next to the regular download link.

On checking the terms they now read:

“Regular License allows you to use the purchased file in 2 custom projects, made for yourself or a client. This covers most typical uses of stock flash files.

Commercial License allows you to use the purchased file in any number of custom projects, made for yourself or a client.

1 Year Membership allows you to use any of the files in 2 custom projects, made for yourself or a client. For more uses, you can either purchase another regular licence to gain 2 more uses or a commercial one for unlimited uses.”

No-one from the company has sent me an email to tell me that I wouldn’t be affected by these new terms and conditions during my current subscription. I was just presented with them over my curiosity of the ‘Commercial License’ link after I logged on.

So the lesson from todays post is always make a copy of the terms and conditions. Use the ‘save page’ button in your favourite browser. If it doesn’t have one, open up one that does and save them. You could even just press ‘CTRL> Prt scr’ and copy the screen grab into a word processing or graphics package of your choice. It’s easier in the long run to have a saved copy on your computer to present to your vendor if things need to be clarified, rather than having to quote from a printed copy.

This goes for absolutely any product or service. In 2005 we bought tickets for the Challenge Cup Rugby League Final between Hull FC and Leeds. We bought our tickets through the RFL ticketing website and I did have concerns with the resulting email stating that the email was a confirmation of our order and not a guarantee of purchase. The email also stated that if the application was unsuccessful we would be contacted within 5 working days.

As we were going on holiday to Devon, we had no option but to try and buy the tickets at the Hull FC box office, which we did, as we would not have been returning home prior to the match.  As we still had not received an email confirming our purchase after buying the tickets at th Hull box office, we rang the RFL box office to cancel our order. We were told that this was not possible as all tickets were non-refundable.

The email that we originally received after our online purchase did not state this, nor were there any terms and conditions on their website. Things were made even worse because neither at that time did they have their address on their website!

I then demanded that they refund our money in accordance with our refund rights set down in the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 (DSRs).

Wow! Tell them what rights you’ve got, that duly did the trick. We were not charged for the tickets and we basked in the glory of Hull FC winning the Challenge Cup 22 – 20.