We like to think that the Weekly Boffin gives off an air of worldly wise class. A whiff of debonair grace envelops almost everything we do. You'd have to get up pretty early to pull the wool over our eyes. Sadly for us an online flight booking site not only got up early enough to do it but they're almost £200 better off for it too.
Having recently purchased flights, the circumstances of our trip changed and we had to cancel. Resigned to losing money, imagine our delight when it turned out we'd been savvy enough to buy cancellation insurance. One irate phone call later plus a few words we can't take back and we were hit with the bombshell "have you read the terms and conditions?".
It turns out that I'm one of the 73% of people who don't bother reading the Ts &Cs. Apparently unless I've had a leg cut off by a mildly inconvenienced lemur wielding a limited edition Malibu Barbie potato ricer I am not eligible to claim for a cancellation. To find this out I had to wade through 15 pages of stipulations. When I bought cancellation cover at the point of purchase I didn't expect to need it but I naively assumed that it was what it claimed to be.
This company isn't alone in burying bad news in the Ts & Cs. All the major social media networks essentially own everything you post and can do what they like with it. When you buy things from iTunes you don't actually posses anything, you're simply paying for the privilege of watching or listening. Did you know that by joining Linked In you have agreed never to add people that you don't know in real life?
Those are day to day examples of terms and conditions that we agree to but rarely scrutinise. However, it has been said that we are living in a terms and conditions age and with so many online purchases taking place how legally binding are these agreements?
Luckily for us the onus is still on the vendor to provide concise terms. James Daley of the company Fairer Finance said this about insurance firms trying to avoid paying out,
"If a company rejects your insurance claim and points to the small print, there's every chance that the Financial Ombudsman Service will take your side if you appeal. By and large, the burden is still on companies to show that they did everything they could to flag the main snags and catches with their product at the time it was bought. Burying traps in the small print is – rightly – not considered by the ombudsman to be treating your customer fairly."
In my case I purchased cancellation cover only to find out that I wasn't really covered. Yes, I agreed to the terms and conditions but the wider feeling now is that it's unreasonable for companies to expect customers to plough through pages and pages of fine print before spending £7 on insurance or similar.
I will be contesting my claim but I do feel like I have a degree of responsibility at the same time so I have begun to pay more attention to Ts & Cs. For example I now know that you're allowed to bring your own food to Cineworld cinemas as long as it isn't hot!
Ultimately it pays to be as well informed as possible but that doesn't mean we should get taken for a ride by expensive legal teams.
Job Of The Week
Must have a degree or higher in an economic discipline or related field.
Previous experience as an economist is essential.
Must have a demonstrable knowledge of macroeconomic indicators and fiscal accounts.
Must have an ability to explain economics to a business audience through both presentations and written work.
If this sounds like you or someone you know please get in touch here!
On This Day
On this day in 1189 Richard the Lionheart was crowned King of England. When he wasn't nipping back to Sherwood forest to give away Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio away in marriage he was overseas on crusades. In fact Richard only spent six months of a ten year reign in England, preferring to live in South West France. Seems reasonable.
Something a little different this week. We've been working on a new Boffin website and it looks fantastic! A huge thanks to Tom and everyone else involved in getting it off the ground. Check out the fruits of our labour here.
Fact Of The Week
Not only is today International Kissing Day it is also Fried Chicken Day. I'd kiss A LOT of people to get my hands on some fried chicken right now.......