Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Do you read contracts?
Old 06-07-2015, 09:33 AM   #1
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
imoldernu's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Peru
Posts: 4,616
Do you read contracts?

To be a little more specific, do you read service contracts, and the disclaimers that you are required to agree to in order to receive any kind of benefit.

Perspective:
Recently, after having some troubles receiving an IRA distribution from the bank (it took 28 days, many, many phone calls, mailings and jumping through hoops) I decided to transfer my IRA to a friendlier bank. Yesterday I received a large package in the mail from that bank. It contained the instructions and forms for making the conversion.
There are 74 pages... small type, full 8 1/2 X 11" pages... and... another booklet containing 32 pages, small type... with referenced links from the other contract.
.................................................. .....................................

Taking this a little further... The basic Comcast customer agreement contract... (note "basic") contains 15,032 words.
The US Constitution contains 4,532 words... the Bill of Rights 463 words... and the total constitution with all 27 amendments... 7,591 words.
That's not all... The Comcast agreement references more explicit included agreements, definitions and ancillary expanded explanations... Too many to count.
Comcast Agreement for Residential Services
.................................................. ..............................................
Do you read contracts? Like car or house insurance, home owner agreements, leases, rentals... even short term contracts such as tickets to an event, or even airline or mass transit agreements.
If you have a high value liability insurance or flood insurance, or mold insurance, do you know what is and isn't covered?
.................................................. .............................................
I have one son who is the lead attorney for a very large risk management corporation dealing in the public sector. While we didn't discuss specifics, he indicated that the legal constructs that he deals with daily have grown by triple digit increments over the past 25 years.
.................................................. ............................................
In my dotage, this is becoming too much to handle and stay atop of. Fortunately, the major expenses in our household budget lie in the area of governmental controls... Medicare and supplements and Social Security have been without incident since we signed on 15 years ago, and any questions we may have had, have been simply and quickly resolved with a phone call to a person. Likewise, any dealings with our state and local governments have been dealt with without anxiety.
In short, we feel a bond of trust with government services.
.................................................. ............................................
This indirectly addresses the current ongoing discussion about financial risk for persons with a degree of dementia. While that discussion leaned heavily on financial advice, and wealth management... those who have related their personal situation, with regard to challenged friends and relatives... realize the ongoing anxiety that daily bill paying causes. Add to this the service charges, billing errors, and penalties and it's clear to see how the legal community has wrapped itself in protections that only grow and create more costs and problems for seniors and those who are protecting them.

We are part of a larger community of seniors... perhaps 600 persons almost all over age 65. From personal observation, there are fewer than 100 who use a computer of any type, and most of these person are not internet savvy, using their computers for playing bridge or solitaire.
.................................................. .............................................
Back to the initial question. Do you read the contract?
For DW and I, the answer is no, life is too short... and for those times when legal constrictions result in anxiety and extra costs... we keep a mental money-reserve to cover these costs... $500 to $1000. Coverage for the inevitable losses, where fighting injustice is not worth the anguish or the time.

This probably qualifies as a rant, but for everyone who will grow older, something to put in the back of your mind. Retirement should not be a revisitation of pre-retirement stress caused by contract legalities.
__________________

__________________
imoldernu is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 06-07-2015, 09:40 AM   #2
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 1,104
I couldn't possibly wade through all the stuff. Even the agreements to download or use apps etc. I just take it on faith that everything will be ok. Besides, if you found something in those thousands of words, what are you going to do? They won't modify it and if you want the service/product you just pretty much have to take it.
__________________

__________________
H2ODude is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2015, 12:45 PM   #3
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 443
In general, the only contracts I read are service/warranty contracts. Can't wait until we engage the general contractor for our remodeling.
__________________
TrvlBug is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2015, 12:53 PM   #4
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 13,290
It is according to what it is....

When getting service for the car... no.. they are pretty standard... if someone were way out in left filed you probably would have heard about it...

With service contracts like AT&T, Comcast etc.... again, no.... if there is a problem I can take my business elsewhere....

Heck, almost every contract where the cost of the item is small or it is being sold through a third party (cars, computers etc.) not really... I try to look for the main things such as return policy etc.... but the seller usually does not warranty the product...


When I signed the mortgage.... quickly read through almost all items that needed to be signed... took hours....

If someone was going to major work on my house, since it will not be a standard contract will read it....


However, even though I am a bit more knowledgeable that most about legal matters, I am not a lawyer and could very easily miss a big gottcha.... so unless I am willing to pay a lawyer to read it, that is about as good as it is going to get....
__________________
Texas Proud is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2015, 01:14 PM   #5
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 204
Yes, I do. But then I retired as a Subcontract Administrator after 34 years of dealing with attorneys nitpicking contract language.

The real question is (or should be), do you negotiate contract language?
__________________
.................................
A life without beer is not worth living
Nunthewiser is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2015, 01:17 PM   #6
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso) Give me a forum ...
REWahoo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Texas Hill Country
Posts: 42,149
Some I read, some I don't. I usually try to read contracts for something I don't often purchase, trip insurance for example.

I recently read the medical evacuation exclusions on one apparently very popular insurer's contract I was considering buying for a cruise and noticed the items shown below in the fine print.

IOW, the insurance contract would not cover the cost of evacuation for any of the most common (and serious) heart and stroke related issues that might befall the elderly - precisely the type of medical problems one would expect to require an evacuation.

I passed on the coverage.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Travelguard Flight Guard Exclusions.JPG (23.4 KB, 100 views)
__________________
Numbers is hard

When I hit 70, it hit back

Retired in 2005 at age 58, no pension
REWahoo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2015, 01:49 PM   #7
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
jollystomper's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 1,364
It depends on the size of the transaction and commitment. For example a contract for a service for which I pay $20-30 per month that I can cancel anytime without penalty I won't look much at it 9beyond ensuring there are no strings attached with the cancellation clause). A larger purchase that locks me in for a time period I will go over and ask questions.

I'll always remember when we bought our current house close to 25 years ago, going over the contracts in detail during the closing. The closing attorney got annoyed (I suspect he had a golf game scheduled after us he was trying to make), and tried to rush us along. At one point he told DW and I in a somewhat condescending manner "you really don't need to read every word", at which time I replied we would be happy not to, as long as he was willing to sign a contract I would write up on the spot saying that he advised us to not read everything and he would be willing to be held liable for anything we missed that we did not agree with. He got real quiet after that.
__________________
Current target FIRE date: Under negotiation, can happen anytime.
jollystomper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2015, 01:55 PM   #8
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 2,370
Only if the other party insists I sign it.
__________________
GrayHare is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2015, 03:12 PM   #9
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
travelover's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,906
Yea, I'm the guy carefully reading though every word at the rental car counter while the line backs up out the door.
__________________
Yes, I have achieved work / life balance.
travelover is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2015, 03:40 PM   #10
Moderator
rodi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: San Diego
Posts: 8,817
Like others said - sometimes yes, sometimes no.

I read (after the fact) the rental contract for one of our vacation rental apartments... found out that Saturday check in (which their website suggests is their preferred weekly rental check in day) triggers a 40 pound fee for being outside "standard business hours". I called and tried to negotiate out of that and they (correctly) pointed out I'd had a copy of the contract before I paid the deposit. Doh!

I went over our construction contract (both contractors) with a fine tooth comb. The first time gave me enough knowledge to call BS on the first contractor. He ended up losing his license because he broke the contract and abandoned the job. The second contract we were able to pull their own language back at them when we had disagreements.

One thing I learned - for big $$ stuff - don't agree to binding arbitration. You have to pay to take it to arbitration.. and if the other side doesn't pay their half - you get to pay that also. My experience showed the arbitration system to be rigged against the consumer.
__________________
Retired June 2014. No longer an enginerd - now I'm just a nerd.
micro pensions 7%, rental income 18%
rodi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2015, 03:47 PM   #11
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Utrecht
Posts: 2,213
As a rule I read all contracts, including all T&Cs that go with them. Especially if said T&Cs are not included in the contract you are offered to sign.

Few exceptions, for various reasons
  • "free" on-line services for consumers like google, microsoft, linkedin. Pretty well known your data isn't safe, may or may not be yours, can be used by them and the service can be suspended at any notice. I plan accordingly.
  • Well-regulated utilities for consumers. Water, electricity. Government usually has your back, and there is no choice anyway. Still read those for entertainment and learning sometimes.

When I see a disturbing clause I either don't buy or try to negotiate it away. Last one isn't always an option in consumer-land. Also sometimes try to insert or correct clauses, especially concerning liabilities and such.

Always have done it, and maybe non-surprising have done quite a bit of work dealing with contracts later on for a living. It fits my character I guess.
__________________
Totoro is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2015, 03:51 PM   #12
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
imoldernu's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Peru
Posts: 4,616
Hey rodi...

How about a bit more on binding arbitration? Either here, or on a new thread. Things like:
how does it get started?
require a lawyer?
cost?
minimum amount?
damages?
time to complete?

and maybe the difference between binding arbitration and small claims, and if there is any kind of choice after signing the contract?

anything you can share...
__________________
imoldernu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2015, 04:31 PM   #13
Moderator
Walt34's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Eastern WV Panhandle
Posts: 16,579
If I didn't learn anything else when I was doing fraud investigations, it was "always read the fine print". Doing so has kept me from making some potentially expensive mistakes.

That said, I don't always read them for inexpensive items that I can afford to write off.
__________________
I heard the call to do nothing. So I answered it.
Walt34 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2015, 05:48 PM   #14
Moderator
rodi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: San Diego
Posts: 8,817
Quote:
Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
Hey rodi...

How about a bit more on binding arbitration? Either here, or on a new thread. Things like:
how does it get started?
require a lawyer?
cost?
minimum amount?
damages?
time to complete?

and maybe the difference between binding arbitration and small claims, and if there is any kind of choice after signing the contract?

anything you can share...
It gets started when one party or the other files with the arbitration company (typically stipulated in the contract). You pay a set amount based on the size of the claim. They reach out to the other party and ask them to match that fee to proceed.

It does not require a lawyer, but you are not precluded from using a lawyer. We used one to get an idea of the process... and consulted with him as needed - but represented ourselves.

Looking at current fees for construction arbitration, there is a $1750 filing fee, then $1250 to take it to the 2nd stage, then a fee for the arbitrator of several hundred per day. (That 1750 is based on size of claim - that was our fee). Our opposing party refused to pay his half. So our choice was pay his half and move forward, or drop it. By refusing to pay he voided the arbitration clause in the contract so we cut our losses and moved to civil court. (Or would have but the state attorney general's office negotiated a settlement to us as part of his probation on his license... but he stopped paying... and lost his license.)

Time to complete: We were told it was faster and cheaper than civil court - I disagree. It took 6 months from filing till we were ready to go to the arbitration judge. The fees were higher than filing fees for civil court.

Damages - you lay out your claim, the arbitrator makes the determination on damages. Same as in court.

The other difference between arbitration and civil court is there is NO appeal. The arbitrator could be biased or having a bad day, be drunk, have a conflict of interest.... . doesn't matter... no appeal, no recourse. We weren't worried about that because we had overwhelming evidence... but it's an issue.
__________________
Retired June 2014. No longer an enginerd - now I'm just a nerd.
micro pensions 7%, rental income 18%
rodi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2015, 07:29 PM   #15
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 443
All I've read about arbitration vs. court, is to avoid arbitration at all costs. We're going to be doing some big $ remodeling and if the GC insists on arbitration, they will not be on our short list.
__________________
TrvlBug is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2015, 08:37 PM   #16
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
pb4uski's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Vermont & Sarasota, FL
Posts: 16,481
Never read the legal babble - I try to focus on the key terms of "the deal". Only exception is real estate contracts but they tend to be short.

I've never had a problem in 40 years of not reading them.
__________________
If something cannot endure laughter.... it cannot endure.
Patience is the art of concealing your impatience.
Slow and steady wins the race.
pb4uski is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2015, 10:08 PM   #17
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
growing_older's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,608
I do read them all. For something like a mortgage which involves many pages and which has some customization involved, I had always found mistakes that needed to be corrected. For standard purchases that have no opportunity to negotiate, these contracts increasingly include absurd and unconscionable clauses, but there is no opportunity to object or change them, except by refusing to do business with that company. I may have to give up reading those, because there is no benefit to knowing what horrors they actually contain.
__________________
growing_older is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2015, 08:25 AM   #18
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
DFW_M5's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 4,982
I used to negotiate and draft purchase/sales agreements for a living. Most contracts are ridiculously lopsided in favor of the party that drafted the contract, and I've encountered very few I would consider commercially reasonable. If there is something in an agreement that would bind me to perform or do something, I pay attention, otherwise it just gets a cursory scan.
__________________
Doing things today that others won't, to do things tomorrow that others can't. Of course I'm referring to workouts, not robbing banks.
DFW_M5 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2015, 08:46 AM   #19
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
JoeWras's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 2,531
I read them and don't always get the fine print.

Case in point, to OP imoldernu... I read Dad's contract at his senior living facility. And it was LONG. To me, it basically said if Dad has to move to memory care, then there's only a 10 day payment penalty.

When the time came that we had to move Dad, they disagreed because what it REALLY said was if THAT CORPORATION determines that dad has to move OUTSIDE THIS FACILITY, it was a 10 day penalty. In their estimation, they figured they could handle him on the other side of the building, which was not memory care, only assisted living. But their assisted living was "good enough" in their estimation to handle my dad's mild dementia.

BZZZZ. Nope, not in my mind. Their assisted living, uh, <gotta delete what I want to say.> We moved dad elsewhere anyway and paid the @$%$# 3 months of independent living rent.

It ticked me off, but it was the best $10k I ever spent because Dad enjoyed those 3 months in the new place immensely.
__________________

__________________
JoeWras is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Fees, Contracts, Monopolies imoldernu Other topics 18 08-03-2013 08:10 AM
Templeton Global Income Fund (GIM) - increased usage of currency forward contracts sailor FIRE and Money 2 05-09-2012 10:36 AM
Electronic Records --- Contracts and Transactions chinaco FIRE and Money 1 08-10-2011 08:14 AM
employment contracts....... wildcat Young Dreamers 16 11-06-2006 08:42 AM
Invest in futures contracts? Ted FIRE and Money 4 12-16-2002 05:39 AM

 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:46 PM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.