You know that little user agreement you skim over before you click “agree” whenever iTunes updates, or you install a new download? Did you read it? If Apple doesn’t already own your soul, did you just agree to give it to them? It’s a lot to read, but you never know.
Recently, I had to sign a new lease agreement with my apartment, and unsurprisingly, my rent went up. It was very simple, my old rent rate rose by forty bucks so, when split between my roommate and me, it was only twenty a piece. Not too big of a deal.
They sent a paper with the lease that offered an online payment plan, boasting easy rent payment, with a one-time ten dollar enrollment fee, so I signed up. After calling five times trying to get the office to send me the credentials, I was finally able to log in. I looked at my total bill for the month and was a little confused and quite frustrated.
It seems there was an awful lot the ladies at the office failed to mention.
My rent skyrocketed. It wasn’t the forty they led me to believe. It was seventy, plus the ten dollar fee for enrollment, and the utilities for the month. While it’s not a ton of money in the grand scheme, it’s more than I’d planned for, and more than they told me I’d be paying.
Also, on top of the ten dollar enrollment fee, there was a three dollar fee for each transaction if you decided to transfer via bank account and it takes three days for the transaction to go through, which meant my payment would be late. Oh wait, there’s more. If I wanted to pay via credit card, there was a twenty three dollar transaction fee. ARE YOU KIDDING?! Why didn’t they tell me?
The way they explained it to me made sense at the time, but when the bill arrived, it didn’t match my expectations at all. I called the office and the woman who answered explained that the lease matched the posted bill, and that it was all accurate. So what on earth did I agree to when I signed that lease?
I feel like they lied to me, but I know that I had a hand in my own destruction.
The truth is that whatever they explained to me before, whatever they promised may or may not have been in the lease. I signed the lease without reading it closely, and now I’m in a binding contract to pay that amount for the remainder of the current lease period. I know that even though they said one thing, I signed my name to a contract that said another, and there’s little I can do to go back from that. If I were a judge looking at this case in court I’d say, “Sorry, buddy, you signed it. You’d better read what you’re agreeing to next time.”
I doubt the ladies in the office knew that I didn’t understand, and some mistakes were likely made. Regardless of who’s at fault, it’s important to go over the details with a client before they sign anything so they don’t feel misled when the bill arrives. Transparency is an important part of business. You can’t expect to build trust with clients if they don’t understand the deals they’re making with you. You should ask them if they understand, if they have questions, and let them know before they sign anything, what the base costs and fees will be. It’s only fair to them, and it’s important to work with each other so your clients can trust you.
As a business, you’ll likely enquire about various services and enter into various agreements, and it is of the utmost importance to understand anything you sign. I thought I understood what I was signing, but ultimately, I didn’t look closely enough at what it said and spent too much time relying on promises I received verbally. You must do your research, read your agreements, and understand what you are getting into before you accidentally sign your soul away. It would be nice if everyone would talk straight, but it’s really up to you to make sure everything is in order.
Many business owners might scoff, saying, “Yeah, of course I know I need to read something before I sign it,” but we all need little reminders now and then.