Companies like legal talk—which is probably why they wrap their services in it. Many VoIP providers and companies surround themselves in legal defenses. While this is typically precautionary, you should really explore your provider’s terms and conditions. We all know how companies reserve the right to change their service terms (with notice to users)—just look at Instagram’s change in policy. However, despite this knowledge people continue to ignore providers' printed parameters. Don’t believe me? When was the last time you sat and read through Apple’s terms and conditions? Did you read the terms and conditions when you last upgraded your mobile phone?

Despite the backlash that typically ensues upon companies changing policy, users rarely investigate service terms and conditions. With VoIP, providers typically outline their services, features, and operability in extensive detail throughout their terms and conditions. I know firsthand that it can be hard to navigate through all the legal jargon and wordiness; however, users should not feel discouraged. Most VoIP providers have customer service options that are available to users and non users alike. It may be a good idea to access a means of support and go over these details with the provider’s staff. This might sound like a lot of work, but it could help you prevent selecting a cut rate service, paying additional fees, or a number of other scenarios.

User knowledge is important. A lot of VoIP providers offer users both contracted and non-contracted options. While contracts typically offer more stability, users should verse themselves in the provider’s policies and practices before signing up. Terms and Conditions often detail provider’s service information, quality assurance, cancellation policies, etc, as well as define users’ rights. Additionally, providers may reserve specific rights, which would be detailed here. For example, if a user enters into a yearlong contract and pays an introductory rate, additional pricing may be stipulated. Also, in the same yearlong contract, users may wish to drop a service, or a provider altogether. Users may be subject to penalties and fees based on the cancellation policies dictated in print.

Inversely, non-contracted VoIP services require scrutiny as well. Terms and conditions will stipulate both user and provider responsibilities—which limits accountability. For example, E911 service typically requires users to register the physical location of where the service will be used. Emergency service deploys based on the address of the E911 service. Providers’ terms and conditions dictate that it is the user’s responsibility to do this. If this isn’t done, emergency services won’t be able to respond because they won’t know your location. Subsequently, in this instance there is no recourse available to you as have agreed to terms without analyzing them.

Reading through VoIP providers’ Terms and Conditions is heavy stuff; however, it is something users should at the very least familiarize themselves with. Yes, it can be daunting and somewhat time consuming; however, you have options. Reach out for provider help and support. Every provider offers different terms and conditions; therefore understanding your role with a VoIP provider is crucial. While this print is typically disregarded, it can be very helpful in providing you with a realistic expectation. Additionally, it’s good to know where both you and your provider’s responsibilities start and end.

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