*Terms and Conditions apply

So this last weekend, I was walking by a store and saw this sign.



You see that ‘Conditions Apply’? That really gets my goat. What conditions are they talking about, huh? The condition is not that you must come on a full moon night, in a three piece suit, wearing a pink hair clip, chewing some bubble wrap, with 12 people, including a kid, in tow and then you can get 50% off.


if you are the 13th customer on the 13th day of the 13th month (per the Hindu calendar) then you get 50% off.


It is just that some clothes are 50% off, others are not. How complicated is it to say that?

I almost yearn for the days of ‘upto 50% off’, where upto was in 6 points and 50% was in 48 points.

Who decided ‘conditions apply’ was a more enticing consumer line than ‘upto’??

Rather odd if you ask me. Or even if you don’t.

Then some people take it too far.

The other day I heard an ad for a Bluetooth keyboard. It basically said that ‘with this Bluetooth keyboard you can connect to your smartphone and your tablet seamlessly’.

Great, right? Then at the end of the ad it said ‘conditions apply’. I was flummoxed with that. So being the good consumer that I am, I called them to ask what the condition was. After being tossed around, someone finally said ‘your device must be blue tooth enabled’. WHAAAT?? You are selling a bluetooth keyboard. Of course your device must be bluetooth enabled. What kind of person buys a bluetooth keyboard just for the heck of it.  Do they expect a consumer to say ‘MMMM bluetooth..I always loved the colour blue and wondered why all keyboards were always white or black.’ Conditions apply, my foot.

Next we will have Surf saying’ Surf washes whitest. White as new’ Conditions apply. Condition: You must use water while washing.

Or BMW: The Joy of Driving. Conditions apply.                                                                   Condition: Joy limited to person behind the wheel, not back seat drivers.

And ironically the products and services that should have ‘Conditions Apply’ never do.

Eg airtel. They definitely need a ‘conditions apply’ with all their ads.

Condition: You must have your own personal tower that you strap to your back, and ensure everyone around you has their phone on airplane mode.

Or Any property company  in Bangalore that says 10 minutes to work. Conditions apply. Condition: There is a Cauvery bandh, no BBMP digging on the way, no VIP movement, no Uber/Ola driver using his GPS, parking available near the lift which is waiting for you in the basement.

Do these things even work? Does anyone even read them?

Every single software that we use has these terms and conditions, that we blindly agree.

If you use this software you give us the right to make the next three generations of your family our slaves: Agreed.

If you use this software, you will tattoo a duck billed platypus on your arm. Agreed.

If you use this software, your facebook friends will have happier lives than you. Agreed.

Agreed. Agreed. Agreed.

Just look at cigarette communications as a great example.

Once upon a time, cigarette ads were full of people having a great life. Riding horses, going river rafting, hanging out with beautiful members of the opposite sex and so on. In small print was a sign that said; If you smoke cigarettes, you will smell awful, no one will want to kiss you, You will be unable to even climb the horse. PS: it can kill you.

No one cared. They all smoked away.

Now the PS is the headline: Smoking Kills is loud and clear on the pack. And no conditions apply.

I think the Terms & Conditions Apply epidemic is growing out of hand and someone better do something.

Let’s work together and Make Headlines Great Again.



22 Years in marketing communications. Worked in India, China, Singapore, Nairobi and now in Bangalore. Love the job. Deep interest in technology as it relates to brands and customer relationships. Avid reader.

2 thoughts on “*Terms and Conditions apply”

  1. The best are the conditions we see here. For a headache pill – may cause headaches. For a diarrhoea medication – may cause diarrhoea, intestinal bleeding. Every single one of them seem to caution that the medicine will cause the very reason you are thinking of taking it.

    Then you have radio ads, where the conditions are read off at breakneck speed and tv ads where the 6 point font flashes by before you’ve had a chance to capture any of the information in it.


  2. Harish, in case of cigarettes the “Smoking Kills” warning has enabled tobacco owners to sell more of it, with or without T&C! Similarly the signboard ‘Speed thrills but kills’ you find on Indian roads is another ludicrous example of people getting away with anything. The T&Cs have long been a tool in the advertisers bag to hedge risks.


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