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LondonlawyerJ, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 823
Experience:  Solicitor with over 15 years experience.
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I rented a Franking machine for a consumer pressure group to

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I rented a Franking machine for a consumer pressure group to use to post our quarterly newsletter.
The telephone salesman told me that the contract was for one year and that we could terminate it anytime thereafter. I told him that our postage requirement was likely to change and that we were anxious to ensure that we would not be committed for more than a year in the first instance. He assured me that the deal was appropriate to our needs. Unfortunately, the only evidence I have of all that is my memory of the conversation and my own handwritten notes taken at the time.
After we had had the machine for about 10½ months I rang to say that we didn’t wish to continue with the deal beyond the year. They replied to say that the original contract contained a clause saying that the contract automatically renewed for a year unless I gave three months notice. I had ticked the box saying that I had read and accepted the contract, that it is legally binding and so I owe them a years rental. It does say that buried in a page of very dense very small print.
I replied “Never once did he (the salesman) or anyone else mention the punitive condition, buried in the small print that the contract renewed automatically for a whole year unless three months notice was given. In the light of the extensive discussions we had had with him, this was wholly unreasonable. What was clearly a relevant and important piece of information was not provided in a clear, unambiguous, intelligible and timely manner so that we could take an appropriate decision about entering into the contract” and please would they review the decision. They replied “you have signed a legally binding contract to confirm you have read and agree to the contract terms which state the agreement automatically renews. The full contract terms that you have signed into will stand.”
I realise that I have put myself in the wrong by not reading all through the terms and conditions but I feel I have been duped. Is there anything I can reasonably do? If I do nothing and they sue me what would be my chances of winning? Should I just pay up, put it down to experience and be more careful in the future? I’ll be very grateful for your advice.
LondonlawyerJ :

Hello, I am a solicitor with 20 years experience. I will try to answer this.


Thank you I'd appreciate your advice

LondonlawyerJ :

I am afraid that you may not in a strong position in this. A clause requiring 3 months notice if you want to terminate the contract after a year is unlikely to be considered a punitive clause. It does contradict his representations to you but it will be very difficult to prove those representations in the absence of any contemporaneous notes by you or letters to him about those representations.

LondonlawyerJ :

In the absence of any very clear evidence of the misrepresentations any court dealing with the dispute might well decide that the signed contract provides the most reliable guide to what was agreed. I know this is not the answer you were hoping for but I have to give an accurate answer.

LondonlawyerJ and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Many thanks. You're right - it's not the answer I was hoping for but I least I know where I am. I'll just pay up - it was never really about the money but I am cross with myself for being so trusting and, as it turned out, naive.