Underneath All Are the Contracts

Ralph Nader explains the problem with standard form contracts and introduces faircontracts.org.

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Don’t be fooled by merchants who offer free gifts or other favors. These gifts may be there only to entice you into agreeing to otherwise unfavorable agreements. In any case, the cost of these “gifts” is built into the final price you pay anyway!

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Never sign a contract if you do not understand its terms! Many merchants intentionally confuse consumers with industry terms and bizarre “legalese.” Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that a merchant has honestly and adequately explained these terms to you.

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Having merchants or their representatives explain the terms of an agreement to you is not a good alternative to reading and researching on your own. Their job is to convince you, not inform you. Whenever possible, gather the advice of impartial experts or study up on the terms you don’t understand.

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Never sign anything without reading it first! Remember to read the whole document; many unscrupulous merchants rely on you skipping the fine print and skimming long documents to trick you into accepting terms you don’t want.

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Your first and best defense against any scam is a skeptical and critical mind. Never be too afraid to ask questions or to walk away from a deal that doesn’t feel right.

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Don’t get strong-armed by high-pressure sales tactics! If a merchant is demanding an immediate decision, it may be because the deal they are offering is one you would reject if given enough time to consider it thoughtfully.

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For big purchases, remember to shop around. It always pays to be a discerning consumer; when merchants compete for your business, the payoff is usually lower prices and simpler terms.

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Don’t assume that just because you’re paying an agent or representative for their services that they have your best interest in mind. People whose salaries are based on commission may make more money by convincing you to overpay.

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Common sense is your best friend: If a deal just looks too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t be afraid to pass up a seemingly great deal if the terms are too confusing for you to know what you’re buying.

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