Contract cancelled without cancellation fee

A small business owner entered into a contract with a lead generation online business. She started with a dollar figure per month and kept increasing the amount per month, not realising this meant that each time she altered the amount per month she was entering into a new 12 month contract.

When she called the business to cancel the contract, which she thought was due to expire (after initially joining up for 12 months), she was told she could cancel but would have to pay out almost $4,000.

Our Assistance Team contacted the online business and we were able to have her contract cancelled without the cancellation fee.

Advertising company waives outstanding invoice

A small business owner had a contract with an advertising company. The company used to contact him yearly to discuss his contract renewal, but this did not happen when the contract was due to roll in 2017. The small business owner felt that he was not provided with the opportunity to cancel the contract.

The most recent contract did not advise that there would be a follow-up call each year. The auto-renewal notice for 2017 was sent to two people; one no longer worked with the business and the other was not involved in the original purchase of the advertising and was likely not aware of the automatic renewal terms.

The advertising company waived the outstanding amount of $737 as a gesture of goodwill.

Business hires lawyer to improve contract

Whilst assisting two small businesses to resolve a contractual dispute, our Assistance Team was able to identify some confusing terms and conditions in the contract of the respondent.

Following suggestions by our Assistance Team, the respondent hired a business lawyer to review their terms and conditions, and is in the process of making some changes to their business processes to be more transparent for users and customers.

Verbal contract resolved

When a small business owner registered an online inquiry, the online entity responded with a phone call. The small business owner was told she had to agree to buy the product she had enquired about on the spot, to avoid the offer being withdrawn.

The small business owner verbally agreed to the contract, for which she received a quote for several hundred dollars per month. On the same day, after discussing it with her business partner, she attempted to terminate the service via telephone conversation and email.

Despite the same day cancellation, the small business owner was told that when signing up to a contract over the phone, there was no ‘cooling off’ period.

Our Assistance Team identified in the terms and conditions of the contract that the purchaser was able terminate the contract by giving the supplier 14 days’ written notice. Given the small business owner cancelled the contract within hours of verbally agreeing to it, the contract was able to be terminated without charge.

The small business owner was thankful for the help saying:

“I’d like to say that I’ve been really impressed by your services and I’m grateful that your company exists to help out the small businesses of Australia.”

Advertising contract refunded

A small business owner was contacted by an advertising company about an advertising opportunity.

During the phone call, the small business owner requested time to consider the advertising cost ($5,500) before agreeing. She was told the offer was only valid during that phone call and she needed to agree on the spot.

The small business owner reluctantly agreed and provided her business logo and pictures as requested. The advertising company guaranteed a draft of the advertisement would be sent for review within four business days.

When the draft wasn’t received by the agreed date, the small business owner requested her contract be cancelled. This request was denied as it fell outside the ‘cooling off period’ offered by the company.

As a result of the delays experienced by the small business owner, and the subsequent breakdown of the relationship between the parties, a full refund of $5,500 was requested.

Our Assistance Team was able to negotiate changes to the advertisement that satisfied both the small business owner and the advertising company. The parties are now working on finalising the advertising.

Both parties expressed their gratitude for the intervention by our Assistance Team.

Advertising and website contract resolved

A small business owner wanted to increase her business’ online presence. She approached a digital agency and admitted she knew nothing about the online world and asked for help.

The agency sold her advertising designed to increase her business’ presence, as well as the building of her business website, but did not provide sufficient explanation of the services.

The small business owner signed a contract for the website build, but became disenchanted with the digital company, particularly once she understood there would be additional website hosting costs and other charges.

The small business owner tried to terminate the contract, but was unable as she had signed the agreement.

Our Assistance Team contacted the digital agency and provided them with a greater understanding of their client’s situation. The agency agreed to either waive the additional hosting charges or terminate the contract with no further costs.

The small business owner chose to terminate the contract with no further costs and the issue was resolved.

Contract terminated without penalty

Following a cold call, a small business owner signed a six month contract with an IT services provider for advertising, search engine optimisation and a new website.

The small business owner was unhappy with the level of service provided as they were writing their own website content and the advertising had only resulted in a marginal increase in business.

The small business owner attempted to resolve the matter directly with the company, but there was no improvement to the service, so they sought to terminate the contract.

The company refused to terminate the contract without early termination fees and a pay-out of the remainder of the contract.

The small business owner then contacted our Assistance Team for help.

Our Assistance Team had previously negotiated with the IT company to have a designated contact officer to deal with disputes. As a result of this arrangement and their enquiries, the contract was terminated without any further fees to pay, saving the small business owner around $5,000.

Termination fee waived

A small business owner engaged the services of an IT provider.

When she realised the IT provider wasn’t able to effectively fulfil the required services, she attempted to cancel her contract, but was told she would be charged the remainder of the contract fees.

This IT service provider has not previously allowed the cancellation of contracts without a termination fee in such circumstances.

This time, after prolonged negotiation, they released the small business owner from her contract without any additional charges, saving her a total of $8,000.

Newspaper advertising overpayment resolved

A small business owner placed an advertisement in a local paper. The initial paperwork was the only form of invoice provided (as noted in the contract). The contract was for an initial period, but in smaller print, the advertiser was required to give four weeks’ notice to stop advertising.

The charge was taken from the business owners’ bank account via a pay system that did not identify the media outlet, but rather the pay system. The small business owner also used this same payment system for her security alarm.

Three years later the small business owner’s accountant suggested she was paying too much money for her security alarm and she started investigations.

She discovered she was still under contract to the local paper, even though she had never received any invoices or contract renewals. She contacted the outlet, but by this stage the business had changed hands. The new business owners had been given a list of all the people under contract, but had made no contact with them either.

Our Assistance Team was able to help the business owner reach a resolution where the local paper paid back a large proportion of the monies paid since the end of the initial advertising period.

Advertising account re-activated

A small business owner reached out to our Assistance Team following the de-activation of an advertising campaign.

The advertising company claimed the client breached the terms and conditions of the contract, but didn’t provide any information.

The small business owner attempted to reach out to the advertising company via their help page online, but received unhelpful automated email responses.

Our Assistance Team contacted the advertising company and the account was re-activated.

The client said she’s ‘very grateful that I can now advertise again and provide career counselling services to those who need it’.

Resolution reached following mediation

A property developer signed an agreement with a telecommunications company to relocate a telecommunications pit (used as a distribution point for phone cabling), at the developer’s own cost.

The property developer signed the contract to avoid delaying the development. The developer later attempted to contact the telecommunications company to understand why he was required to pay for the shift of the pit when it was not necessary for his development, but in discussions was unable to resolve the issue.

The property developer was then invoiced $33,000 for movement of the pit.

Our Assistance Team attempted to help the parties resolve the matter, which resulted in the Ombudsman recommending mediation.

Our Assistance Team was informed that mediation was successful and a commercial resolution was reached.