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Dagda1175

join:2001-06-17
Goleta, CA

1 recommendation

No responsibility

I miss the days when signing a contract was legally binding. I miss the days when people were smart enough to read a contract before they signed it. I miss the days when I wasn't paying off your mortgages for the same damn reasons.

moonpuppy

join:2000-08-21
Glen Burnie, MD
said by Dagda1175:

I miss the days when signing a contract was legally binding. I miss the days when people were smart enough to read a contract before they signed it. I miss the days when I wasn't paying off your mortgages for the same damn reasons.
Problem is contracts don't mean anything. They can be changed for any reason and you have no recourse.


cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
said by moonpuppy:

Problem is contracts don't mean anything. They can be changed for any reason and you have no recourse.
Sure you do. Don't sign the contract. Contracts only can be changed because you allow them to when you sign the original one. If you don't agree to the terms, don't sign the contract. There are other wireless companies out there, or prepaid, or go without.


quetwo
That VoIP Guy
Premium
join:2004-09-04
East Lansing, MI
I think it's great for the latest trend to not even have the user sign the full contract. When you sign up for wireless service from Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile now, you say that you agree to the terms of the contract. Most places don't have it on site, but rather they will mail it to you with your first bill. They claim that since you have a 30 day out of the contact, this is legal, but what they forget to tell you is that you may not get your bill until the 25th day, really only giving you 5 days to get out of it, if the terms are not what you expect.

Just another way to screw the consumer.

dandin1

join:2008-05-27
reply to cdru
Well I'd love to call my cellphone service provider and try to haggle with them over ridiculous terms in their contracts, but that's just not gonna fly with them. All the companies have anti-consumer wording in their contracts, and all that's left for us to do is find the least worst, and sign with my eyes closed.


fireflier
Coffee. . .Need Coffee
Premium
join:2001-05-25
Limbo
reply to cdru
Some of these same companies also have contracts stating that they can change the terms of their contracts whenever they decide to. Signing a contract initially doesn't mean you won't be bound to additional terms later whether you want it or not. Then, if they so choose, they could hit you with ETFs for cancelling because you don't agree to the new contract terms. Not saying they will but there's not much to stop them from doing that--particularly if their contract says they can.

If the contract were binding and unchangeable until the end of the contract, that's one thing. The ability to change it mid-cycle is of no benefit to the consumer, only the company. It would be pretty sweet if I decided I suddenly didn't like something in my cellular contract and notified them that I was changing the terms. I don't see that happening.
--
Tradition: Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid. --despair.com


Shelleyp

@sbcglobal.net

2 recommendations

reply to cdru
Do you understand the concept of an adhesion contract? These are take ir or leave it contracts that consumers have to sign in order to get a service.

Do you then understand the term "unconscionable"? An adhesion contract that is unfair to the weaker party (the consumer) is unconscionable.

What this all means is that with some services, such as credit cards or cellphone access, there is no recourse for the consumer. If they want a credit card, they have to sign these unconscionable contracts. If they want any cellphone, they have to sign these contracts.

What has happened is that companies have been embedding mandatory arbitration clauses into their service contracts for the last decade, naming arbitration companies that are dependent on repeat business from these companies, and who rule in favor of the companies, and obscene amount of times. Then when a party tries to sue a company because of some abusive business practice, the company's lawyers step in and say, "No, you gave up the right to have your case heard in a court of law". More importantly, you gave up your right to participate in a class action lawsuit against the company.

Now, if you think this is fair, and that a "contract is a contract", great. I'm sure the companies will just love you.

Many of us, though, prefer a level playing ground.


Jason Levine
Premium
join:2001-07-13
USA
reply to Dagda1175
Contracts should also be able to be negotiated. Let's say you want a cell phone. So you go to AT&T and they tell you to sign this contract. You read it over and say you're going to make some changes. They'll simply tell you the contract is what it is and you can't change it. So you leave and go to Verizon Wireless, Sprint, etc. All of the cell phone companies won't allow you to negotiate what is in the contracts. You either sign what they hand you or you don't get cell phone service.
--
-Jason Levine
Support a children's charity. Buy a calendar and/or a photo book. Shooting For A Cause


cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
reply to fireflier
said by fireflier:

Some of these same companies also have contracts stating that they can change the terms of their contracts whenever they decide to. Signing a contract initially doesn't mean you won't be bound to additional terms later whether you want it or not. Then, if they so choose, they could hit you with ETFs for cancelling because you don't agree to the new contract terms. Not saying they will but there's not much to stop them from doing that--particularly if their contract says they can.

If the contract were binding and unchangeable until the end of the contract, that's one thing. The ability to change it mid-cycle is of no benefit to the consumer, only the company. It would be pretty sweet if I decided I suddenly didn't like something in my cellular contract and notified them that I was changing the terms. I don't see that happening.
I can't speak to other carriers, but with T-Mobile when the contract changes, they are required to notify me, the consumer and allow me to opt out without out penalty. That's been the case when they raise SMS fees, when they raised directory assistance fees, etc. There is a period, usually 14 days or so, to opt out otherwise your continued use indicates your acceptance.

I won't argue that changing the original contract doesn't happen, or that it's rarely in the consumers favor. But I do argue, in my experience, that they aren't changing the contract without giving you the option to just walk away if you don't accept the new terms.


cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
reply to Shelleyp
said by Shelleyp :

Do you understand the concept of an adhesion contract? These are take ir or leave it contracts that consumers have to sign in order to get a service.
Yes, I understand the concept of an adhesion contract. An adhesion contracts aren't necessarily invalid. Most consumer credit, insurance, rental contracts, etc are in some form an adhesion contract. It's take it or leave it, if you don't like the terms, go elsewhere.

Do you then understand the term "unconscionable"? An adhesion contract that is unfair to the weaker party (the consumer) is unconscionable.
No they aren't necessarily. They only become unconscionable when they are grossly one sided, or are the result of fraud or misrepresentation.

What this all means is that with some services, such as credit cards or cellphone access, there is no recourse for the consumer. If they want a credit card, they have to sign these unconscionable contracts. If they want any cellphone, they have to sign these contracts.
Yes there are terms that have been found unconscionable, but there are just as many that are perfectly valid. Unconscionable or not, people are still signing them when they have other options. Most cellular providers offer prepaid or contract-less accounts. There are thousands of banks offering credit cards, or there is also the option of Visa/MC check cards or gift cards if you don't really need the credit portion of the card. You have choices. The choices may not be to your liking, or your terms may not be as favorable, but you have choices.

What has happened is that companies have been embedding mandatory arbitration clauses into their service contracts for the last decade, naming arbitration companies that are dependent on repeat business from these companies, and who rule in favor of the companies, and obscene amount of times. Then when a party tries to sue a company because of some abusive business practice, the company's lawyers step in and say, "No, you gave up the right to have your case heard in a court of law". More importantly, you gave up your right to participate in a class action lawsuit against the company.
And the courts have also ruled in the past that mandatory arbitration may be illegal. Just because some legalese says it's so doesn't make it so, as AT&T is finding out.

Now, if you think this is fair, and that a "contract is a contract", great. I'm sure the companies will just love you.

Many of us, though, prefer a level playing ground.
No, I don't think it's fair, but I also don't sign contracts that I think aren't fair. It doesn't excuse the companies from putting the unconscionable clauses, but it doesn't excuse the consumer from reading and understanding what they are signing either. I will guarantee you an overwhelming majority of the people that would be party to the class action lawsuit never even read their contract that they were signing.

moonpuppy

join:2000-08-21
Glen Burnie, MD
reply to cdru
said by cdru:

Sure you do. Don't sign the contract. Contracts only can be changed because you allow them to when you sign the original one. If you don't agree to the terms, don't sign the contract. There are other wireless companies out there, or prepaid, or go without.
Easy to say that now but what happens when all the companies change contracts? The big 3 automakers were amending their sales contracts calling for mandatory arbitration. The Japanese makers started doing the same thing.

Look at the credit card companies. You sign up for one rate and they change the contract. Cancel the card and there goes your credit rating.

Look at Verizon when they raised the rates for text messaging and when people tried to cancel their contracts, Verizon said no until they were forced to. The people signed up for $0.10/per text message and before their contract was over, they raised rates.

Even the TOS of many video and internet providers are so one sided that they double your rates just because they can change the contract at any time.

Sorry, but those provisions are the reasons we have so many lawsuits over contracts as it is.


cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
said by moonpuppy:

Easy to say that now but what happens when all the companies change contracts?
Contracts have been changing for years. It's nothing new. The world won't come to and end. Plus, all companies aren't changing contracts.

The big 3 automakers were amending their sales contracts calling for mandatory arbitration. The Japanese makers started doing the same thing.
Citation please to where they were changing existing financing agreements.

Look at the credit card companies. You sign up for one rate and they change the contract.
No, the agreement you signed almost definitely had a clause or two that stated the interest rate could change and that it wasn't fixed forever.

Cancel the card and there goes your credit rating.
Canceling a single card impact on your credit rating is minimal. If you are always opening and closing accounts, have too much credit, are maxed out, or have repeated denied credit applications, those things are going to hurt your credit much more.

Look at Verizon when they raised the rates for text messaging and when people tried to cancel their contracts, Verizon said no until they were forced to. The people signed up for $0.10/per text message and before their contract was over, they raised rates.
Read your customer agreement and stick to your guns when trying to get out of an contract if they raise rates. From that agreement (emphasis added):
quote:
Our Rights to Make Changes

Your service is subject to our business policies, practices and procedures, which we can change without notice. UNLESS OTHERWISE PROHIBITED BY LAW, WE CAN ALSO CHANGE PRICES AND ANY OTHER CONDITIONS IN THIS AGREEMENT AT ANY TIME BY SENDING YOU WRITTEN NOTICE PRIOR TO THE BILLING PERIOD IN WHICH THE CHANGES WOULD GO INTO EFFECT. IF YOU CHOOSE TO USE YOUR SERVICE AFTER THAT POINT, YOU'RE ACCEPTING THE CHANGES. IF THE CHANGES HAVE A MATERIAL ADVERSE EFFECT ON YOU, HOWEVER, YOU CAN END THE AFFECTED SERVICE, WITHOUT ANY EARLY TERMINATION FEE, JUST BY CALLING US WITHIN 60 DAYS AFTER WE SEND NOTICE OF THE CHANGE.
Even the TOS of many video and internet providers are so one sided that they double your rates just because they can change the contract at any time.
Citation please of a single instance where a provider doubled rates of a contracted customer.


vpoko
Premium
join:2003-07-03
Boston, MA
reply to Dagda1175
said by Dagda1175:

I miss the days when signing a contract was legally binding. I miss the days when people were smart enough to read a contract before they signed it. I miss the days when I wasn't paying off your mortgages for the same damn reasons.
You miss something that never existed. Contract law has always been full of things like consideration, conscionability, & equal bargaining power. Boilerplate contracts, where the parties do not get to meaningfully negotiate, are not the same as negotiated contracts. Never have been.


fireflier
Coffee. . .Need Coffee
Premium
join:2001-05-25
Limbo
reply to cdru
said by cdru:

Yes, I understand the concept of an adhesion contract. An adhesion contracts aren't necessarily invalid. Most consumer credit, insurance, rental contracts, etc are in some form an adhesion contract. It's take it or leave it, if you don't like the terms, go elsewhere.
And if said consumer needs a POTS line and someone like AT&T is the only POTS carrier in their area, what do you propose? VOIP is not a direct alternative to POTS. They are very similar but they are not identical in functionality to POTS. Sometimes there are no other options if a consumer requires a particular type of service. The take it or leave it option doesn't always work. Would you feel the same way if your power company added clauses to their service agreement that you found unacceptable? Would you then disconnect your home electrical service? My guess is, you'd file a complaint with your PSC.
--
Tradition: Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid. --despair.com


David
I start new work on
Premium,VIP
join:2002-05-30
Granite City, IL
kudos:101
reply to dandin1
or pre-paid. Least then if you don't like the service, you can just stop paying. No harm, no foul!


EGeezer
zichrona livracha
Premium
join:2002-08-04
Midwest
kudos:8
Reviews:
·Callcentric
reply to cdru
said by cdru:

I will guarantee you an overwhelming majority of the people that would be party to the class action lawsuit never even read their contract that they were signing.
Companies have the right to offer contracts as they see fit. There also exists the right for people to complain and participate in class actions suits. If the companies don't like their customers' complaints and legal actions, they can - subject to contract terms with the customers - drop them and go get new ones.

Companies have the right to lobby congress for favorable treatment and customers have the same rights. Historically, when one or the other tilt the playing field sufficiently, then the pendulum starts swinging the other way to tilt it back. We're starting to see that happen now.
--
The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding. -- Justice Louis D. Brandeis

moonpuppy

join:2000-08-21
Glen Burnie, MD
reply to cdru
said by cdru:

Contracts have been changing for years. It's nothing new. The world won't come to and end. Plus, all companies aren't changing contracts.
No, but many are putting in clauses that say they can change the contract for whatever reason they feel like it.

said by cdru:

Citation please to where they were changing existing financing agreements.

Not existing agreements but if you wanted a new car, they were inserting that language in the deep fine print.

said by cdru:

No, the agreement you signed almost definitely had a clause or two that stated the interest rate could change and that it wasn't fixed forever.
The agreements I signed were as long as I paid THEIR bills on time, they wouldn't raise my rates. If they saw something else on my credit report, then they couldn't raise my rates. Now, they changed it to whenever they find anything they do not like.

said by cdru:

Canceling a single card impact on your credit rating is minimal. If you are always opening and closing accounts, have too much credit, are maxed out, or have repeated denied credit applications, those things are going to hurt your credit much more.
Wrong. If you close one of your long standing accounts, even if it had a zero balance, your credit score will drop. I have 3 active credit cards and about 7 more that are free and clear. I had a WaMu card cancelled because WaMu went belly up and my credit score went down. That card had a $17,000 credit limit.

said by cdru:

Read your customer agreement and stick to your guns when trying to get out of an contract if they raise rates. From that agreement (emphasis added):
quote:
Our Rights to Make Changes

Your service is subject to our business policies, practices and procedures, which we can change without notice. UNLESS OTHERWISE PROHIBITED BY LAW, WE CAN ALSO CHANGE PRICES AND ANY OTHER CONDITIONS IN THIS AGREEMENT AT ANY TIME BY SENDING YOU WRITTEN NOTICE PRIOR TO THE BILLING PERIOD IN WHICH THE CHANGES WOULD GO INTO EFFECT. IF YOU CHOOSE TO USE YOUR SERVICE AFTER THAT POINT, YOU'RE ACCEPTING THE CHANGES. IF THE CHANGES HAVE A MATERIAL ADVERSE EFFECT ON YOU, HOWEVER, YOU CAN END THE AFFECTED SERVICE, WITHOUT ANY EARLY TERMINATION FEE, JUST BY CALLING US WITHIN 60 DAYS AFTER WE SEND NOTICE OF THE CHANGE.
And go back and research here on this site how many people tried to get out of their contracts and Verizon said no because they didn't think they were violating the contract. many were being upsold into a messaging package they did not want.

said by cdru:

Citation please of a single instance where a provider doubled rates of a contracted customer.
I should be more clear. They CAN double your rates even if you are under contract. There have been many articles here where the TOS is so vague that anyone could argue you weren't even allowed to use your internet connection.

jjeffeory

join:2002-12-04
USA
reply to moonpuppy
said by moonpuppy:

said by Dagda1175:

I miss the days when signing a contract was legally binding. I miss the days when people were smart enough to read a contract before they signed it. I miss the days when I wasn't paying off your mortgages for the same damn reasons.
Problem is contracts don't mean anything. They can be changed for any reason and you have no recourse.
Well, ONE side can change the contract. Isn't it wonderful?

Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1
reply to Dagda1175
an interesting angle in the ETFs here would be, if the company changes its name does the contract still hold. the customers in this case signed a Contract with cingular, doesnt that mean in theory they would not have one with AT&T and by changing the name they would have to reissue new contracts reflecting that you are bound to the new carrier.
--
[65 Arcanist]Filan(High Elf) Zone: Broadband Reports


jhboricua
ExMod 2000-01
join:2000-06-06
Minneapolis, MN
reply to Dagda1175
said by Dagda1175:

I miss the days when signing a contract was legally binding. I miss the days when people were smart enough to read a contract before they signed it. I miss the days when I wasn't paying off your mortgages for the same damn reasons.
I miss the days when a company supplied contract was not full of loopholes designed in such a fashion that they could do whatever they wanted and not be liable for inferior service. I miss the days when companies didn't lie to their customers so they could get their signature in such contracts. I miss the days when I wasn't paying off some bank bailout because their executives got too greedy originating mortgages.
--
"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe." - Albert Einstein
Jose A. Hernandez * System Admin * MPLS, Minnesota, USA *


TScheisskopf
World News Trust

join:2005-02-13
Belvidere, NJ
reply to Shelleyp
Shelley:

Stick around. Join up. Perhaps Karl can put you to work.

I like the cut of your jib.


Shelleyp

@sbcglobal.net
Thanks, TScheisskopf.