April 08, 2014

A contract is a legally binding, written agreement signed by two or more parties, which spells out their obligations to each other. Whether it is formal and official looking or handwritten on a plain sheet of paper, once it is in force it generally cannot be changed or broken unless both parties agree. Therefore, before you sign a contract, be sure you really need, want and can afford the product or service for which you are signing. Be sure you understand every word it contains. If you do not, get a lawyer to explain it to you. 

Regardless of what the contract is for, follow these rules: 

Make sure you get a copy. 

Deal with only reputable individuals or companies. If you have any doubts, do not sign. 

Find out if there are any provisions for cancelling the contract, and what the provisions are. 

Be sure you understand exactly what the seller is to do for you, if anything, in terms of guaranteeing the product or service. The term "guaranteed" when used alone, means little or nothing. Be sure the terms and conditions are spelled out clearly. 

Be sure that all promises made by the seller are written into the contract in addition to all the terms and conditions of the sale. These should include the price, type and model number of every item, the quality and condition of the materials to be used, service obligations and the time of delivery or completion, if applicable. 

Be sure that all goods, services, or obligations, which you do not want to sign for, are stricken from all copies of the contract and initialed by both parties. 

Be sure all blank spaces are filled in. 

Be prepared to live up to all provisions in the contract, regardless of what the salesperson says. 

Never let yourself be pressured into signing. Take your time. Above all, make sure to deal only with reputable businesses. If you have not already done so, be sure to check with the Better Business Bureau for a reliability report.