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Understanding Contracts Credit Repair Contracts
Writing Your Own/Forms Other Types Of Contracts
Your Right To Cancel/Get A Refund

Where To Go For Help


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Understanding Contracts

Your Rights And Obligations When You Sign (Consumer-SOS)

Common Mistakes About Contracts (Consumer-SOS)

Changing Standard Form Contracts To Fit Your Needs
(Consumer-SOS)

Contract Terms Courts Usually Won't  Enforce (Consumer-SOS)

Fundamentals Of Contract Law- How Do You know when You've Got a Deal
Includes basics on Capacity, Written and Oral Contracts 
Offer and Acceptance, Acceptance, Conditions, Consideration 
Reliance, Agents and Delegations and Assignments .

Sample Health Club Contract And How To Modify
(Consumer-SOS) 

Basics On Contracts
(Not State Specific)

Bars To A Contract-When You Can Get Out of One 
Find out what defenses you may have so you can escape a bad deal. Learn about Illegality, Duress, Undue Influence, Fraud, Mistake, Statutes of Limitations, Changing Situations, Unconscionability and Practical Contracts.

Tips On Understanding Contracts (BBB)


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Writing Your Own Contracts

Tips For Writing Contracts (Findlaw)

Writing Your Own Contract (Form w/tips)

Changing Standard Form Contracts To Fit Your Needs (Consumer-SOS)

Sample Health Club Contract And How To Modify 
(Consumer-SOS)

See Business Forms (Consumer-SOS)

See Legal Forms (Consumer-SOS)

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Your Right To Cancel Or Get A Refund

The Mail & Telephone Order Merchandise Rule

The Cooling Off Rule (When You Can Cancel A Sale or Sales Contract)

Bars To A Contract-When You Can Get Out of One 
Find out what defenses you may have so you can escape a bad deal. Learn about Illegality, Duress, Undue Influence, Fraud, Mistake, Statutes of Limitations, Changing Situations, Unconscionability and Practical Contracts.
For small businesses.

Shopping From Home-Your Cancellation Rights
Learn  about your right to return merchandise, cancel orders and protect yourself from fraud. 

Unordered Merchandise (FTC)

How To Right A Wrong (FTC)

See Getting Refunds, Replacements and Repairs

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Credit Repair Contracts

(no state links at this time)


SEC. 2451. FEDERAL REGULATION OF CREDIT REPAIR ORGANIZATIONS 

Title IV of the Federal Consumer Credit Protection Act (Public Law 90-321, 82 Stat. 164) is amended to read as follows: 

SEC. 407. 3 DAY RIGHT TO CANCEL A CREDIT REPAIR CONTRACT.(11

(a) In General. -- Any consumer may cancel any contract with any credit repair organization without penalty or obligation by notifying the credit repair organization of the consumer's intention to do so at any time before midnight of the 3rd business day which begins after the date on which the contract or agreement between the consumer and the credit repair organization is executed or would, but for this subsection, become enforceable against the parties. 

(b) Cancellation Form and Other Information. -- Each contract shall be accompanied by a form, in duplicate, which has the heading 'Notice of Cancellation' and contains in bold face type the following statement: 

'You may cancel this contract, without any penalty or obligation, at any time before midnight of the 3rd day which begins after the date the contract is signed by you. 

To cancel this contract, mail or deliver a signed, dated copy of this cancellation notice, or any other written notice to (name of credit repair organization) at (address of credit repair organization) before midnight on (date) I hereby cancel this transaction, 

(date) 

(purchaser's signature).

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Your Rights And Obligations When You Sign A Contract
A contract is a written or oral agreement that defines the rights and duties of both you and the other party.[1]  When you enter into a contract, both you and the other person make a joint commitment that has the force of law.  This means that either of you can sue if the commitment is broken.  

Keep in mind that courts generally respect your right to bargain and will rarely step in just because the contract is unfair or one sided.  By and large, when you sign a contact you will be held to the contract's provisions.  This holds true even when the terms are unfair or you never took the time to read them.   

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Common Mistakes About Contracts
Many people foolishly assume they have three days in which to cancel a contract.  But this is not true in most cases.   The three day rule is something enforced by the Federal Trade Commission and applies almost exclusively to contracts involving door to door sales. 

Another mistaken belief is that the laws in all states are identical.  Contract laws can and do vary from state to state.  The rights given to consumers under the laws of Idaho will have no bearing on your rights while in Georgia.  Likewise, while you have 7 days to cancel a health club contract in Georgia, you may not have such a right in Florida.

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Changing Standard Form Contracts To Fit Your Needs
As a consumer, you are at a distinct disadvantage when you sign a standard or "boiler plate" contract.  Never forget that contracts for health clubs, airlines, and housing always favor the seller over the buyer.  The problem is made worse because a lay person may find the contract's small print hard to read and full of legalese.  That is why you should never sign a contract until you have read and understand each and every part of the agreement. 

But you can change a contract by penning in more favorable terms and/or crossing out the terms you dislike.  Remember, your right to bargain is just as important as the seller's.  Note that when you cross out terms before signing, you have made an entirely new offer which the seller is free to accept or reject.

If the seller then signs the contract, he must abide by all of its terms even if he later claims he never saw the changes made to it.  For your protection, make sure you press hard enough so that the alterations appear on your carbon copy.  Put your initials next to where you made the changes if possible.  Then if you lose your copy, your initials will show that you had changed the original contract before signing it.

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Contract Terms Courts Usually Won’t Enforce
While courts normally respect people's right to make agreements, some contracts are just so objectionable that they will not be enforced.  A contract is legally invalid if it is procured through fraud, violates the law or goes against public policy.  Note: An invalid contract won't be enforced even though you signed it.  Often valid contracts will have invalid provisions within them.  When this occurs, courts will most likely strike out the offensive term and uphold the rest of the contract. 

But courts are hard to second guess.  You never know when they will void the entire contract, leave the contract as is, or delete just one provision.  Play it safe and be sure to cross out offensive terms before signing any agreement. 
 

Samples Of Invalid Contracts
Examples of invalid contracts may include: agreements where you waive your right to sue your doctor or lawyer for negligence or malpractice; contracts for illegal services such as for prostitution; illegal gambling, or illegal lottery operations;  residential leases that make the tenant responsible for repairs due to normal wear and tear, and any lease that holds the landlord harmless for any and all damages to both person and property.   

Note: Always beware of provisions that allow sellers to duck out of their responsibilities.  Agreements in which sellers try to avoid their own negligence are in many states found void for public policy reasons. 

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Sample Health Club Contract And How To Modify

Below is an Waiver and Release provision from a Bally's Health Club contract.  All potentially invalid terms have been highlighted.  Terms you should modify have been underlined.

You agree on behalf of yourself (and your personal representatives, heirs, executors, administrators, agents and assigns) to release and discharge us (and our affiliates, employees, agents, representatives, successors and assigns) from any and all claims or causes of action (known and unknown) arising out of our negligence. This Waiver and Release from liability includes without limitation, injuries which may occur as a result of (a) your use of any exercise equipment or facilities which may malfunction or break, (b) Our improper maintenance of any exercise equipment or facilities © our negligent instruction or supervision, and (d) you slipping and falling while in the health club or on the premises. YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOU HAVE CAREFULLY READ THIS WAIVER AND RELEASE AND FULLY UNDERSTAND THAT IT IS A RELEASE OF LIABILITY.  YOU ARE WAIVING ANY RIGHT THAT YOU MAY HAVE TO BRING A LEGAL ACTION TO ASSERT A CLAIM AGAINST US FOR OUR NEGLIGENCE.

 

Suggested ways To Modify:

Change any term that will release the health club from its own negligence. Replace the word "our" with the word "my" throughout the paragraph.  In section (a) insert "naturally" before the word "malfunction".  In section (d), insert the word "negligently" between "you" and "slipping".



[1]In many states, oral or spoken agreements are also binding contracts. For Example: In Georgia, an oral contract is binding if you are bargaining for something less than $500 and the contract is able to be performed within a year of your agreement.

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Other Types Of Contracts

Various Types of Contracts
(Nolo)
All about contracts-from real estate to retail. Choose your topic and blast off.

See Business Matters
See Work

For more help See Consumer-SOS Subject Index

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Where To Go For Help

Find Your City & State Consumer Protection Offices (DC Included)
These are the agencies that regulate any unfair business practices in your state. They also have information on a variety of consumer subjects relating to cars, lawyers, credit, contracts, employment, home improvement, employment, etc. 

Better Business Bureaus (Links Throughout The U.S.)

Find Your Local Newspaper, Magazine, Radio & TV Stations
Give them a little bad press and you're bargaining power increases tremendously. Select your state, and then click on your county or city for the proper media to report to. (DC Not Included).

Find The AARP In Your State
The AARP offers legal advocacy for seniors and may also have state specific consumer brochures which are available to everyone.

Government Complaint Center
Find the federal agency that deals with your problem and fill out an online complaint form to get them to investigate.  Subjects regulated include, airlines, banks, food, medicine, car matters,  cell phones, health clubs and much much more.

The Federal Trade Commission

National Help Orgs For A Variety Of Consumer Problems
The Elderly, Environment, Families, Fraud, Health & Safety, Insurance The Handicapped, Medical Problems, Telemarketing and more.

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Related Topics

Business
Health Clubs
Home Matters
Getting A Refund, Replacement Or Repair
Lawyers/Courts/Self-Help

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Contracts