What is a Consumer Contract?
You made need Florida Contract Lawyers in your corner if any of the following situations has happened to you:
- You just signed a contract with a business for a service and are now having second thoughts.
- The business you signed a contract with promised you something and isn’t delivering on their promise.
- You just wanted a simple service and signed a lengthy contract without reading it, but now want to get out.
Consumers sign contracts with businesses on a regular basis, for everything from cable and internet services to fixing a leaky roof.
The business that created the contract is usually in a much better position to know the details of the contract than the consumer. This often leads to frustration by the consumer as they didn’t read and analyze the legal significance of every single clause in a boilerplate multi page contract. Unfortunately, this can lead to consumers signing unfair contracts, getting ripped off, having their personal information stolen or worse.
Though there are legal safeguards in place to protect consumers against things like fraud or unfair agreements, generally, once you sign a contract, it should be considered enforceable. That’s why it is important to take your time and read through a contract before signing. Pay special attention to the part of the contract that talks about how to cancel the contract. Also, always keep a copy of any consumer contract you sign. Don’t assume the business you contracted with will tell you the truth about what’s in the contract.
What is a Breach of a Consumer Contract?
A contract is a promise by a party to do something (like perform a service or deliver goods) in exchange for something from the other party (usually money). Where a party to a contract fails to meet their end of the bargain, there can be a breach of the contract.
Examples of breach of a consumer contract include the following:
- Breach by the business: A consumer signs a contract with a business to provide appliance repair services, and in exchange the consumer pays the business a monthly service fee. The consumer calls the business regarding a broken refrigerator. The business keeps stalling and delaying in making the necessary appliance repairs for no good reason. Here, the business may be in breach of the consumer contract.
- Breach by the consumer: A consumer signs a contract with a business to provide weekly lawn services. The business comes every week, but after a while the consumer stops making payments and fails to notify the business that they are canceling the service contract. Here, the consumer may be in breach of the contract.
What are the Remedies Available in a Breach of a Consumer Contract?
A consumer has rights, and you should know your rights to protect yourself against legal and financial woes. If a consumer signs a contract that is fraudulent or unfair, the consumer may claim that the contract violates Federal or Florida law. Specifically, there are laws in place that protect consumers from unfair and deceptive trade practices (UDAPs) and fraud.
These situations are common enough that the Florida Attorney General’s office has created a website dedicated to the various forms of common consumer contract scams, ranging from auto repair fraud to car rental scams.
If you’ve been the victim of a fraudulent or unfair consumer contract, contact an experienced consumer contract lawyer today to learn what can be done to protect your rights and the remedies available to you, which can include:
- Money damages to compensate you for any actual losses incurred due to the business’s breach of contract.
- Injunctive relief- This means forcing a business to act in a specific way or forbids them from engaging in certain activities.
- Specific performance- This means a business is ordered to perform a certain duty under the contract.
- Recission of a contract- This means undoing a consumer contract, rendering it null and void. This remedy is reserved for only the rarest of circumstances where, for example, fraud or a material misrepresentation occurs.
- Reformation of a contract- This means that a consumer contract is modified in part to match up to what the parties to a really intended under a contract or to undo an unfair or oppressive clause in a contract.
Can I Get Out of a Consumer Contract?
In Florida, you should assume that when you sign a consumer contract that its terms will be enforced. There is generally no “buyer’s regret” protection under the law. If however, you’ve sign a contract and you have not yet received the service or product, you may be able to cancel the contract. That all depends on what’s in the contract. There are some notable exceptions in Florida, including:
- A consumer can cancel a contract for future recurring services within 72 hours of signing the contract.
- Home solicitation sellers must give a consumer 72 hours to cancel the contract.
If you do not fall into one of the above situations, and still want to cancel your contract, it is important that you do so in the right way. You should carefully review the consumer contract and look for a cancelation or termination clause. That clause will tell you what to do to cancel the contract. Usually, that cancelation clause is very specific and include specific instructions of what you are required to do to cancel the contract, to who and where you need to send notice of the cancelation and how much time you have to cancel. Almost always a consumer contract will require that notice of the cancelation be in writing and there may be a penalty that must be paid. Consumers often complain that they called to cancel a contract and are still getting billed. Unfortunately, unless there is written proof that the consumer canceled, it will be nearly impossible to prove that the verbal cancelation was actually done.
As consumer contracts can be lengthy, complex and full of legal jargon, it is important that you consult with an experienced consumer contract lawyer, such as Law Office of Ryan S. Shipp, PLLC @ 561.699.0399 as soon as you want to get out of a consumer contract, or are the victim of an unfair or fraudulent contract. Our office is located in Palm Beach County, we serve all of Florida.
Links to our Florida Legal Business Blogs
- What to Expect in your Initial Consultation with an Attorney
- Drafting a Foolproof Settlement Agreement (Florida) | 561.699.0399
- Florida Breach of Contract
- West Palm Beach Business Attorneys
- Choosing the Right Structure for your Florida Small Business
- Florida Commercial Properties Offer Investors Benefits
- Lake Worth Commercial Leases and Protecting the Interests of your Business
- West Palm Beach Non-Compete Agreement
- West Palm Beach Florida Commercial Leasing Agreement
- Lantana Florida Lawyers
- West Palm Beach Business Lawyers
- Florida Contract Lawyers