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What is a contract?

If you’re thinking about signing up to a post-paid mobile phone plan, you will need to agree to and sign a mobile phone contract which comes with many responsibilities. Here are some things we think you should know before you sign on the dotted line.

It is important for you to know that you don’t have to actually sign a piece of paper to “sign a contract”.  You can “sign a contract” with the phone company by:

- clicking on something that says you agree to the terms and conditions on the internet;

- saying that you agree to the terms and conditions over the phone.

What is a phone contract?

The mobile phone contract is the official record of your agreement with the phone company that says what you and the phone company agree to do and not do. Phone contracts are ‘standard-form’ contracts. This means  that the contract has been prepared by the phone company, and you can’t negotiate or change any part of it. Therefore, it’s important that you shop around and find the right contract that suits your personal needs.

Our Advice: Don’t rush to sign a contract , and don’t feel pressured to sign up on the spot.  It’s OK to shop around, talk to your parents or another adult before deciding to sign up.

A contract is a legal document and so you should only sign a contract when you fully understand all of the responsibilities, including everything in fine print (info that’s usually in very small letters) in the contract. If you are not sure about any part of it, then don’t sign it. The law says that phone companies must explain their mobile phone plans to you in a way that’s appropriate to your communications needs (for example, if you have a disability or you are young). If you find it difficult to understand the phone plan or need some more information, you can ask the phone company to explain the phone contract to you.

The salesperson might tell you things about the plan, but what you will actually get will be what is actually written in the contract. It’s important to rely on what is in writing, rather than what the salesperson says. Remember their job is to try to sell you a phone.

 Last reviewed June 2013