Contract Review: For The Public

reviewHave you been presented with a long or confusing document and you’re unsure of what it says?

Fine print exists in our lives for only one reason: It’s bad for you, and the other party doesn’t want you to read it. Think about that for a second – if it benefited you, wouldn’t the other party involved be loud and proud about that fact?

As a competent adult, your signature at the bottom of any contract represents a binding agreement “to the terms and conditions herein.” This can have profound consequences for you and your family for years to come, and you may have not have fully appreciated them at the time. Many times, a salesman will attempt to pressure you into making a deal on the spot and will gloss over the specific terms and condition of the contract or worse, tell you to not worry about them. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and now is the time to take a step back and say “I need to fully understand the terms and conditions of this agreement before I sign it.

Here’s a few ways ordinary people are deceived with fine print:

Cell phone contracts often require the subscriber to pay various fees that are unnoticed. Once discovered, it’s also realized that the subscriber is bound to the contract for a specific period of time (usually two years) and must pay a large termination fee in order to be freed. As an example, Verizon charges up to $350. (It’s about a quarter of the way down the page.)

Credit cards advertising absurdly low interest rates such as zero percent don’t charge that amount forever. Chase’s Freedom card even says they will charge you up to 22.99% once the promotional period has ended.

Car dealerships are notorious for advertising a car’s price that is often below the MSRP. But I’m sure everyone is familiar with the guy at the end of the ad speaking at 300 words per minute detailing all the exclusions and disclaimers. Other times, the advertised price will refer to only one vehicle in the dealer’s inventory.

Insurance is another one. Health insurance is often riddled with exclusions. Life insurance rarely covers suicides. Homeowner’s insurance may not cover arson, and it almost never covers floods.

Other common areas where fine print is used to deceive include warranties, cruise trips, auto repair shops, rebates, and infomercials… and I’m just scratching the surface.

Don’t let a salesman’s high pressure pitch get to you. Take a step back. If necessary, you can hire an attorney to review the terms of the agreement with you in order to make a more informed decision. Trust me, the salesman will probably still be there tomorrow.

As a licensed attorney in Ohio, I am offering my services in this field in order to best serve you. I am able to concisely summarize the terms and conditions of any contract as well as discover potential pitfalls and caveats. If you are in need of such review services, feel free to contact me at any time.