BEFORE YOU SIGN | 7 SMART WAYS TO AVOID CONSUMER CONTRACT MISTAKES
Updated: Jun 22
It’s a simple task. Just sign on the line or click “Agree” at the bottom of the window. Tap the check box and continue. But do you really know what you are agreeing to when you sign, click or tap the bottom of a contract or agreement? We are presented with many contracts including:
Home improvement contracts
Liability waivers for children’s events
Buying or selling a home
Appliance purchase, repairs, and installation agreements
Signing a lease for an apartment
Personal care, home, and elderly care contracts
Agreements and disclosures with doctor and dentist offices
Alternate energy utility provider agreements
Car rental agreements
Here are a few things you should know before you agree to those terms.
Read the entire contract before signing.
Considered one of the most important points, it is essential to read through the entire contract before you sign anything. Be sure to take note of any part of any confusing language or any questions that may arise when you are reading through it.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand.
If questions do arise upon reading, be sure you ask them. It is your right to know what you are signing for and the other party has no obligation to interpret it without your questioning. So ask about any part of the contract or agreement you are unsure about.
Don’t sign a contract with blank spaces.
Ensure nothing is left empty before signing the contract; either cross it out or fill in the holes in the document. Make sure anything agreed to verbally is actually documented in the contract and anything you disagree with is crossed out.
Avoid requests for co-signors.
You may be asked for your spouse or another person to sign the agreement. There is no law that requires that both spouses sign any agreement and some laws prohibit requiring co-signors. There are risks for the co-signer. The co-signer is also obligated on the agreement. If you fail to comply with the terms of the agreement, the co-signer will be liable to fulfill your obligations even if the co-signer did not benefit from the agreement. In addition, if you default on the agreement, both your credit and your co-signer’s could be negatively affected.
Be wary of mandatory arbitration.
Arbitration clauses are used to limit the rights of consumers. Arbitration is a private system without a judge, jury, or a right to an appeal. The arbitrator decides the rules, weighs the facts and arguments of both parties, and then decides the dispute. Arbitrators aren’t required to take the law and legal precedent into account in making their decisions. There is no appeal or public review of decisions to ensure the arbitrator got it right. Find out more about the downsides of forced arbitration.
Obtain a final copy of the signed contract and keep it.
Once everything is signed, be sure to request a complete copy of the contract for your own records. Keep it in a safe place in case an issue arises where you would need to refer back to the contract.
Ask for help if you need it.
There are resources available to help you interpret contracts and their jargon before you sign to something you may be unfamiliar with. The knowledgeable lawyers at Fiffik Law Group are ready to assist you in your contract needs. Contact them today with any questions you have or to schedule a meeting to go over your own contracts or agreements.