There are many purchases that require you to sign a contract, such as ordering merchandise from a door-to-door salesperson, hiring a contractor for a home improvement project or obtaining a loan. Contracts are legal documents that are designed to protect both the consumer and the business involved. A contract allows the business to define, in specific terms, the extent of its obligation for the delivery of a product or service, while committing the consumer to the price to be paid once specifications are met. It also provides reasonable assurance to the consumer that the product or service will be received for the price and time constraints agreed upon.
Once a contract is signed, it generally cannot be changed or broken unless both parties agree. To protect yourself, BBB suggests you read and thoroughly understand the contract before you sign. The time to change the agreement by adding or removing conditions that you are unwilling to agree to, is prior to signing the contract.
The BBB offers the following tips to consider, before you sign a contract:
- Be wary of vaguely worded provisions, exclusions or limitations that could later pose a problem.
- Request that confusing or ambiguous statements be either deleted or clarified to your satisfaction.
- Don't be pressured into signing a contract before you're ready. Be sure you understand all the terms and conditions. - Keep a copy of the signed contract. Your copy of the contract is the only proof you have of the conditions of the agreement.
- Make sure that all oral promises are included in the contract. Keep in mind that oral promises are not always legally binding.
- All parts of the contract should be completed before you sign. Never sign a blank contract.
- In some cases, have your contract reviewed by a legal counsel before signing.