The Unread Epidemic: Brits More Likely to Skip T&Cs than Lengthy WhatsApp Messages!

From digital chats to paper contracts, the modern consumer's attention span is shrinking. But at what cost?

2 mins read

Key Takeaways:

  • Tangled in Jargon: Over half of UK residents blame complex language for ignoring details in messages and contracts.
  • Attention Span Crisis: Many lose focus after just 2 minutes and 17 seconds of reading any lengthy document or message.
  • Hidden Costs: A significant number of Brits have faced financial penalties from unread contractual small prints.

The Attention Economy

In an era where every second counts and multitasking is the new norm, recent studies showcase a concerning trend: Brits’ diminishing attention span. With a plethora of digital content, notifications, and endless streams of communication, it seems we’re running on information overload. The latest findings illustrate that Brits are now 29% more inclined to read a lengthy WhatsApp message than the full terms and conditions (T&Cs) of a purchase.

Unraveling the TL;DR Mentality

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) has become a modern mantra. It’s not just about the length; 55% of Brits cite that complicated jargon is their primary deterrent from reading complete information. While most of us get irked by that friend who sends extensive voice notes, it’s alarming to learn that 46% of Brits find themselves overwhelmed by extensive messages, be it T&Cs or even personal chats.

These long-winded texts, more often than not, get sidelined, sometimes leading to predicaments for the person on the receiving end.

The Invisible Traps in Fine Print

Hidden in the labyrinth of words are terms that, when overlooked, can cost dearly. From accidentally signing up for a barrage of unwanted emails (25%) to getting entangled in undesirable contracts (18%), the repercussions of not diligently reading T&Cs are evident. And it doesn’t stop there; a considerable 16% of Brits have been hit with hefty exit fees, all because of oversight.

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The list of most ignored lengthy texts is topped by:

  1. Purchase T&Cs (49%)
  2. Document’s small print (48%)
  3. WhatsApp messages (20%)

Businesses Under the Microscope

While consumers are culprits in not dedicating time to read, the blame isn’t solely on them. An overwhelming 89% believe companies aren’t doing enough to ensure clear comprehension of their T&Cs. Almost half feel that organizations intentionally complicate the fine print. With the looming fear of being swindled by the elusive small print, 35% still proceed with accepting the conditions, often leading to unintended commitments and financial losses.

Experts Weigh In

LSE’s Professor Elizabeth Stokoe, a renowned expert in Psychological and Behavioural Science, sheds light on this prevalent issue. According to her, the interplay of jargon and text length is a potent combination that deters people from reading. “Being bombarded by lengthy jargon-filled text creates frustration and uncertainty,” says Stokoe.

Echoing this sentiment, giffgaff CEO, Ash Schofield, emphasizes the global cry for simplicity. “People are looking for straightforwardness. We don’t have the luxury of time to scour for hidden clauses. It’s time businesses prioritize transparency.”

A Glimmer of Hope

Amidst this backdrop, companies are recognizing the importance of clarity and brevity. Leading the way is giffgaff, which has unveiled its jargon-free ‘Good Contracts’. Aiming to change the narrative, giffgaff promises to deliver value and flexibility without the ambiguity, proving that businesses can indeed champion the cause of transparency.


In an age governed by rapid communication and fleeting attention, both consumers and businesses have roles to play. While Brits need to devote time to understanding commitments, it’s high time businesses step up their game, ensuring clarity, simplicity, and above all, transparency in their communication.

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