3 Things to Know Before You Sign a Media Monitoring Contract
Comparing media monitoring services is a great way to evaluate if the tools you’re using are well suited to your needs, if you’re overpaying, or if there are other tools you may need to incorporate. The last thing you want to discover after finding the perfect media monitoring platform are nasty loopholes, clauses, and conditions in a contract that can legally bind you to terms you weren’t even aware of.
Follow these tips to make sure you’re not falling into some of the common pitfalls of media monitoring contracts.
1 – Can you get out of it?
Most reputable media monitoring services will at least offer a demonstration of their platform before asking you to sign a contract, but it can also be hard to tell exactly how a service is going to work out until you start using it. What happens if it’s not what you thought it would be? Do you have a way out of a contract?
The answer here can be complicated. Some media monitoring firms will provide a 60 or 90 day “out” clause that will allow you to cancel the contract within a certain time period after you sign on. Take a look to make sure this language is in your contract before you sign. If it isn’t you should request that a clause like this be added. Even if you don’t exercise this option, having the security to do so is worth it and most companies should be willing to include it. If you run into a company or a rep that isn’t willing to put an “out” clause in their paperwork, this should raise some serious red flags.
2 – When can I stop?
This seems like a pretty straightforward question, right? If you sign a contract for a certain period of time, you should know when it ends. This isn’t a simple as you might think.
Many contracts will have some kind of language about options to end or renew a contract. Often times this comes in the form of an automatic renewal clause where the agreement will simply continue for a set period of time. You may not be able to get rid of an auto-renewal clause, but you should be able to set a limit on the period of time it renews for. Some contracts will stipulate that the contract will renew for a whole new term (12-24 months) while others will be a shorter period. If possible you should request that an auto-renewal period be no more than 30 days. You can always sign a new agreement for longer, but you should never put yourself in a situation to be stuck in a long-term contract unknowingly.
In addition to auto-renewal clauses, some contracts will have terms that dictate when you have to notify your provider that you wish to terminate a contract (usually 30 – 90 days before the expiration) even if you plan to use it until the end of the original agreement. These sort of clauses are often used in conjunction with auto-renewals so that if you don’t notify your provider that you wish to stop the contract at the end of the original term, not only will you have no way out of your original agreement, but you may not have a way out of the renewal agreement either.
Termination notifications can also be tough to eliminate, but there’s a few tips to work around them. We recommend that you submit a letter as soon as you sign a contract that puts in writing that you wish to stop the agreement at the end of the original term. You can never notify too early, but it’s easy to find yourself being too late. At a minimum, you should add something to your calendar to remind yourself to handle the notification clauses when they come due.
3 – How much is this going to cost, really?
Terms and Conditions pages are notorious hiding places for additional charges, and media monitoring services are no exception. The ways that you can be nickel-and-dimed for media monitoring are astounding. You’ll want to pay close attention to make sure there’s nothing lurking in the fine print that might come back to bite you. Some of the more common examples are:
Additional charges for additional users
Additional charges for changes or additions to search terms/criteria
Additional charges for exceeding a certain number of results
Additional charges for downloading video/radio clips
On top of all of these, some media monitoring services are known to offer “promotional” or “intro” rates that automatically go up at the end of the contract. These practices are other ways firms try to “lock in” customers who may not know what they’re getting into.
What can I do to be prepared?
The best way to be prepared for any of these situations is simply to ask your potential account representative to address them. If a rep “can’t” make changes or isn’t willing to address or adjust any aspects of a contract you’re not comfortable with, consider looking elsewhere. Signing a contract is your legal liability and you have every right to know what you’re signing and to make reasonable alteration requests.
If all this contract talk has a bad taste in your mouth, consider using Metro Monitor’s contract free media monitoring services. You can read more about the advantages of a no-contract service here or feel free to contact our team or call us at 1-800-861-5255.