Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What Did You Agree To? Terminating a Contract

I am asked at least 4 times a day, "How do I get out of this contract?" My first response is always the same.

"What does the contract say about termination?"

For most circumstances there is no 100% sure fire way to "get out of" a contract. Get out of usually means the person does not want to be liable for anything in the contract. The just want it to go away.

To terminate the contract you need to understand what your obligations are. Look the the contract for and keep an eye out for things like,

  • TERM

Those are headings that may give you an idea of what the contract rules for terminating are.

That gives you the basic idea of what the contract expects for termination, including notice periods, how to notify, what you need to do if you have a problem etc. Now we run into three potential problems.

  1. You don't have the contract, or it is missing.

  2. The termination rules don't work for your situation.

  3. There is a law in your area that allows certain types of termination.

If the contract is missing, contact the company and ask them for a copy. You may need to jump through hoops. The easiest way to get what you want is to ask for the Customer Retention Department. Explain that in order to keep your business intact, you need a copy of the contract you signed. You can even give a lame excuse that you need it for tax, or accountant. If the company forwards you to generic rules/contract online, ask for them to confirm those are the terms you are bound by. Send them an email for a paper trail.

If the termination rules don't work for you, Negotiate. That's right you can negotiate. Remember a contract are the rules, but there is nothing that says you cant change those rules on the fly. Just make sure you get any negotiated agreement in writing. Companies don't want disputes, and you will find you can often negotiate something with them.

For companies that are not co-operative, it is time to get a lawyer to look at the termination provisions, and the type of contract. There may be a law in your area or issue that addresses your type of contract. Know this, most contracts have something that can be argued in them as discussed in previous posts. So it is worthwhile to show it to a lawyer if you are not able to negotiate your way out of it.

If you do have legal question, and need to speak to a lawyer, click HERE. Lawyers are online, and can answer your question within minutes for as little as $15.

Copyright © 2009 Peter MacSweeney.
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without the express written consent of the author is forbidden. Contact the author through the comment form for all inquiries, including media.

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