Contracts, and companies that “hold you to them” somewhat rant.

This is more of a rant then a blog post, but it’s been happening ALOT in the recent weeks that companies have tried to screw me out of some things.

Now first off, let me define my definition of “screwing” I completely understand that when i purchase a product or service that i am entering a binding contract with the issuer/provider. As the issuer/provider of a product or service, they are QUITE entitled to request payment from me, and they are completely within their rights to change their price at any time if they write in to said contract that ability. I signed a piece of paper that said this was completely within their rights, that’s totally on me. I am not screwed in the least if a cable provider were to say double their price over the course of a month, it is my right as a consumer to seek service elsewhere. I also suffer the delusion that given the proper time and study i could easily have been a lawyer, i love legal text, it is written extremely concisely, much like code. They go to painstaking efforts to define EVERYTHING in legal contracts, because of course ambiguity in a contract always benefits the signee.

What i DO consider screwing is when I am contacted by these companies demanding payments that are undeserved. I’ve been hit like this enough times to know to keep or record anything they send me, because unless there is a disclaimer at the bottom, anything sent to you, or said to you over the phone by a representative of their company is legally binding, (If you ever wondered why you can never get a solid answer when contacting a support line for a product of service, this is why.)

If there was ever a piece of advice i’d give someone it is that whenever you make a payment on ANYTHING, obtain confirmation of payment, usually they’re emailed to you without you even noticing with strings of numbers. There have been several times in the not-distant past where i have paid for something received confirmation, or confirmation that a contracted service was terminated, and then was contacted months later by either that company or a corresponding collection agency demanding that payment, with all kinds of fees and taxes tacked on. I HATE collection agencies because as a third party they operate under completely different rules, they don’t care about you, the service provider, or the relationship between you and them, all they care about is getting your money, and they are permitted to tell you anything they want to encourage you to pay them.

An example i’d like to share is one that didn’t actually happen to me, and i’m pretty sure the actual victim here would prefer not to be revealed. This person signed up for a personal trainer and then due to special circumstances could not continue. There was a significant fee for cancellation fo the contract, but there was a clause that protected you if you moved more than 25 miles away, you could cancel with 1 month’s notice, and they would waive the cancellation fees. This person went and did all the things necessary of them, gave sufficient notice and payed for the final month,and the account balance read $0.00. He/She then returned to submit the requested proof of residency credentials. She was told the documents needed to be forwarded to the corporate office and they would issue final cancellation of the contract. 2 Days later the company contacted her by phone and gave the usual “sorry to see you go, your contract has been terminated” spiel. Not another word from this company for several months, 4 months after termination a call was received requesting payment for the increasing unpaid balance. After light dispute the caller told her that there was a mistake and that her account was indeed closed, and apologized for the trouble. 8 mo. later a collection agency calls scaring the poor victim by threatening to send the debt to unnamed creditors unless some payment was received. The victim did. Turns out the person that told her the contract was terminated hadn’t actually submitted anything, and of course no longer worked there. Fortunately after some further debate and a few legal threats against the company and the individual who fraudulently told her that her contract was terminated things were resolved.

THIS is screwing, when companies go against their own contracts to gauge money out of their customers. Fortunately in the hopes of not getting sued companies seem pretty quick to back down if the victim seems to have sufficient knowledge against them, but the fact they do it at all is infuriating. For that reason I ALWAYS read anything I sign. ( pissed the realtor off right dandy when i bought my house and insisted on reading the seller/mortgage agreements in full before signing anything, ( Good thing i did too, there were a few glaring issues in that version that were not in the one they submitted to me in advance, which legally speaking nullifies them so long as i got the original notarized, however i refused to sign the final until i was presented the terms set forth in the original contract i requested an advanced copy of prior to signing anything.

my god, i know I’m tangenting here, but the look on the seller’s lawyer’s face when he pulled out the other contract from his briefcase which he’d “conveniently ” brought, and i proceeded to read that one in full as well and ultimately signed it, in hindsight i almost wish that that one had been different as well, because i’d love to have wasted another 45 minutes of that bitchy realtor’s time reading a third one.

The point of the matter is, there are all sorts of contract terms that protect us, they’re there because lawyers always read companies contracts like this and it’s never good business to have ” company offers massively one sided contract to screw over customers” plastered all over the headlines of news sites that will pop up right alongside your own website.

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