This week, I have covered 2 of the seven basic concepts in contracting and business deals. Relationship and Relax. The third concept I cover in my book, Advocating for Yourself, is Review. In our everyday life, we’re not likely to take every cell phone agreement, or click through agreement for a $50 piece of software to an attorney for review, so it’s helpful to have a sound method of reviewing these contracts before signing.
Reviewing any contract can be a bit intimidating, and especially when it exceeds 3 pages. The first step in any contract review should be to make sure it actually reflects the deal you are entering into. What are you purchasing? Services? Software? Renting a specific property for your vacation? Make sure what you are purchasing is fully described, including any model numbers, or if doing a vacation rental, the address of the exact property you are renting.
Review the business terms first, skipping over the legal terms. If the business terms accurately reflect any discussions you’ve had, or emails you’ve exchanged, then review the legal terms. Are there terms you don’t understand? If so, researching them online sounds like an easy way to gain better understand. However, it’s best to ask the one who drafted the contract to explain it to you. To get the explanation in writing would be optimal, such as through an email exchange. I also encourage you to seek the advice of an attorney on any legal terms you don’t understand, if there is a significant amount of money, or risk involved. If the amount of money, or risk is low, online research can be helpful. Make sure you are reading from a good source, such as https://www.law.cornell.edu/.
As you review, you will also want to be mindful of what’s not in the contract as well as what is. In my book, I talk about an agreement that my son had me review when he was leasing an apartment. The agreement didn’t reference the precise apartment number. That can be problematic if one has been shown a specific apartment with a beautiful view and on moving day, one is given keys to an apartment facing the dumpsters. In addition, the agreement referenced facility rules that were not in, or attached to the agreement. No way was he going to sign off on a contract that reference rules he hadn’t seen. How could he agree to abide by rules in a document he hadn’t even seen? Fortunately, we reviewed those before signing. There was a rule regarding a process for taking out garbage, so if he hadn’t complied with the process, he would have been charged an additional $10 for each week he didn’t follow the process.
These are just a few of the examples I cover on contracts and business deals in Advocating for Yourself: The Laypersons Guide to Contracts, Scams and Overcharging.
“Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently than everyone else.” -Sara Blakely