On 27/10/2011 I had a representative from The Community Network Australia Digital Advertising Network drop in to sell me one of their video ad packages. Basically they create a video ad that appears on screens in places like gymnasiums and doctors’ surgeries throughout the day.
My experience was that in just under 2 years, paying $136/mth I didn’t have any leads or new customers. Apparently I’m not the only one who had that experience.
So I checked the contract and the period was 2 years – from 27/10/2011 to 27/10/2013. I called (sep 2013) and said I wanted to cancel my contract – thinking that I would be cancelling before the contract renewed for another year. The receptionist said I would need to speak to Jodi but she was on a break and a message would be given to her so she could call me. She didn’t call.
I rang again the next day and this time she was ‘on the phone’. I was again told she would be given a message to call me. I said ‘okay – make sure she does though as she didn’t call when I left a message yesterday’. She didn’t call.
The following Monday I called a third time. Same story – you need to talk to Jodi but she’s on the phone. I said if she doesn’t call within an hour I’ll be calling my bank to tell them that Community Network won’t allow me to cancel and I will stop payments. About an hour later I received a call.
Jodi informed me that yes, I could cancel, but the balance owing on my ‘contract’ was $3110.24. She then informed me that I had initialled the clause at the bottom of the contract that says:
“I fully understand that this is an automatically renewable advertising services agreement as per clause 9 of the terms and conditions & not the sale of goods.”
I agreed that I did initial that clause.
I then looked at clause 9 and it says (difficult to read – in very tiny print):
“If the advertiser does not wish for the Services to continue after the expiry of the initial advertising period the advertiser must serve notice in writing by registered mail to that effect to the company no later than 12 months after the date on the agreement failing which this agreement will become a 12 month rolling contract at the same yearly value as overleaf plus artwork/production charge which may only be terminated by either party upon 12 months written notice which must be given to the party in accordance with clause 16 and which must be expressed to expire on either the date 12 months after the last day of the initial advertising period or any anniversary of the date 12 months after the last day of the initial advertising period.”
Clause 16 says:
“No notice to the company will be binding,valid or effective unless sent by registered mail to the company’s registered office…”
First Important Point
I should have been WAY more careful reading the contract before I signed it. I’m sure their representative pointed out that the contact would renew after the initial period. I’m also 100% sure he DID NOT point out that the only way I could cancel was in writing, by registered mail, AT LEAST ONE FULL YEAR before I actually wanted to cancel.
Second Important Point
This contract locks customers into purchasing additional advertising that they do not need or want by imposing a ridiculous cancellation requirement. Think about it – must cancel 12 months before the anniversary – so if I were to cancel in November 2013, Community Network will ‘renew’ the contract for the 2014-2015 period, so the cancellation will not take effect until October 2015.
Overall I found this advertising to be completely ineffective and, due to their contract terms, much more expensive than I ever envisaged. I know I’m not the only person who finds this type of contract grossly unfair to the customer.
After my initial contact with these people I received an email with the outline of what I signed up for and what my obligations are.
Oct 27 2011 – signed for two years until Oct 27 2013 – cost $3500.20. Because I didn’t cancel by Oct 27 2012 (a year before the initial contract ended) my agreement was automatically extended to Oct 27 2014 and an additional $1750.10 was added to my bill.
They also indicated that they would accept my email as a notification that I do not want to renew. How magnanimous!
So now the agreement will end on Oct 27 2014 but in order to pay this out at the current monthly rate I will be paying for a further 21 months.