My 12year old son has taken to negotiating with me via e-mail. I know right…?
I am secretly delighted with this new arrangement. My name has reverted from “MumCanI” to plain old “Mum” – admittedly the more drawn out “Muuuum” version complete with gut wrenching sighs and eye ball rolling, but a win is a win. It also means I get full sentences rather than the selective deafness or Neanderthal grunts I’m ordinarily subjected to when he is plugged in. But, the most significant advantage has got be that we now have a written contract setting out all the conditions for the decision with no room for the endless debate around what was an wasn’t agreed. Given that I have enough letters behind my name to start a language for a small (but culturally relevant) country which I shall call Mumseria – and that I must be the only person I know who actually reads the 576 pages of terms and conditions for every on-line application before hitting accept – I was smugly confident that this would finally give me the one up I had been looking for.
They’re smarter than us you know. One of the teachers at school swears that the kids of today are more intelligent than we were at the same age. I swear they’re smarter than us now.
So, I took my new-found smugness into a recent debate my son and I were having around the purchase of an on-line game for his Xbox. Even though he was using his own pocket money we have strict house rules around on-line activity. Terms of the contract included:
“I will also not get any new games for two years unless given them for my birthday or Christmas presents I will also not bug you about getting any new toys, games and/or clothes.”
Sweet! I can live with two years – we’ll see who cracks first.
It turns out that the afore-mentioned contract does not cover a whole ream of things which fall under the category of “I Want”. And I have again become “MumCanI”.
My lesson from negotiating with my 12year old son, is to be absolutely clear around what you are signing up for.
In Australia, we are very fortunate as consumers to be protected by law as to how our financial advisers must deal with us. And financial services companies are required in law to provide us with an enormous amount of information. No matter how tempting it is to gloss over those reams of terms and conditions in the product disclosures and statements of advice that seem to go on forever – just don’t do it. Take the time to read what you are entitled to – and what you are not entitled to. And if it is not in there – it is not a part of your negotiated contract.
For now – I’m surrendering the battle for Mumseria and retreating to regroup and rethink my next strategic move.
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