You shouldn’t have to check this – hidden contract terms

One of the key tasks that SEO folks are involved with is evaluation of tools, both cloud and desktop based, we have a number of requirements that we need and we can often understand better the technical requirements, how data is captured than other folks. But one thing I shouldn’t have to do is to check for hidden terms and conditions in the fine print.

This post is a bit of a rant, based on a recent experience, but it holds true.

At least two cloud based companies have clauses in their contracts stopping you from being able to cancel unless you do it 60 days before the end of the contract. My advice – if this is a clause in the contract do not sign up with them – it is a bad practice.

Vincent van Scherpenseel CEO of content King
Vincent van Scherpenseel CEO of ContentKing

I spoke to Vincent from ContentKing about this, partly because it involved a client of mine not being able to switch to them –

“If a vendor requires long-term commitments (anything longer than a month) or notice periods it usually means they have a churn issue.

Their customers are probably cancelling in high numbers, and instead of improving the product they create horrible lock-in situations to keep you in. Apart from the financial and legal side, seeing something like that in a contract should be a red flag about the product as well. Ask around to hear what other customers (especially former customers!) are saying about it.”



I checked in with Chippy (Steve Paine) from Sistrix, as I keep recommending them to, well everyone – as a powerful suite of tools that is exceptionally good value when compared with other visibility tools in the market, the account autorenews, however you can cancel anytime, and it stops the end of the next month. Perfect.


Pinged Anton to check and he says most clients are a month by month rolling contract and you can cancel anytime, in fact it clearly says this on the signup page!

“…you can downgrade / upgrade your plan at any time, or cancel your subscription at any moment. In case you are not 100% satisfied with the service, there is a 7 day money-back guarantee. …. We do not enforce any contracts for long-term commitments or other contract obligations whatsoever. And there are no hidden charges or fees”


It is good to see that three companies I do recommend don’t have hidden small print.

Before you sign a contract, you should definitely get a lawyer to glance over it – highlight any clauses or elements that shouldn’t be in there, that said small companies should be able to sign up to tools for a year without finding small print ropes them back in.

If it had been upto myself I would have suggested they didn’t renew and suggest that the tool provider takes them to court.

Gerry White Presenting award

My recommendation for any tool provider – if someone wants to leave your tool try to keep them by listening to why they are leaving, chances are in a year they might be back unless you seriously hack them off, in which case they won’t return and they will actively dissuade others from signing up with you. Same with agencies, advertisers, everyone.

Your reputation is worth more than a renewal.

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