I know, sometimes it can be a pain to look at contracts and Terms & Conditions. It feels as if lawyers are purposely making it difficult for you to understand the documents, so what you usually do is you just tick on "I Agree to the Terms & Conditions" or sign the contract without reading. Now before you defensively say "Hang on a second…", you ought to know that nearly everybody does this. That doesn't mean it's okay, though. For little things like signing up for a Facebook account, it doesn't seem like such a big deal. But what about the bigger "life things" like leasing a car?
When money is involved, you should always, and I mean ALWAYS, read the Terms & Conditions before signing anything. Yes, most of them are long and a tad boring to read but it's better for you to go through the document to see which terms you can handle (especially from a financial perspective) than to agree to charges and fees that you would have never agreed to had you known about them. So before you sign that contract for your car finance or tick on "I Agree..", here a few things you should watch out for:
How much do you have to pay? What are those charges and how often do they occur? Do they include rego and insurance? Are the rates subject to change (which typically means increase) at anytime? Do they charge administrative fees for things like unpaid tolls, unsettled traffic infringements, and the like?
Speaking of insurance, is this included in the charges? What are included in said insurance? Remember that comprehensive insurance doesn't necessarily mean all encompassing. Check if it includes single and multiple collisions and natural disasters. If not, do they have premiums to have those included?
Of course, you're going to need to give information like your Social Security Number, address, email, mobile and telephone number, your work place, and even your spouse. To get that car finance, that's okay. The question now is how do they protect your information? Do they sell it to 3rd party advertisers?
How do you get out of the contract? If you ever want to cut it short, how is this done? Do you have to pay an early termination fee or are you locked into paying the weekly/monthly/quarterly fees for a period of time?
Should you be unable to make payment on time, how much are the penalties? Is it a percentage of your weekly/monthly/quarterly or is it a per day penalty? Do you have a bit of leeway from your due date before penalties? What happens overtime of non-payment? Do they immobilise the car or do they just take it away? Is there any for you to get it back after that?
If they're sending or you're reading the Terms and Conditions electronically, remember that Ctrl + F or the Find function is very powerful. Although I encourage you to read the entire document, you can always use the Find function to look for your specific concerns. More importantly, never ever be afraid to ask the finance company any questions you may have. Be smart and good luck!