Most consumers don’t read the fine print on everything they sign. We all know that we should carefully read the terms and conditions of every agreement and every line of every contract, but we don’t. It’s easier to jot down a signature or click “accept.”
By doing this, consumers could be signing away the right to complain and not even know it, thanks to the rising use of non-disparagement clauses in contracts.
BBB offers these tips:
- Read your contract. What can end up hurting a consumer is not fully understanding or reviewing a contract. The clauses are sometimes stuck in long contracts or in online contracts that require you to accept what the document entails. Ask the business if there are any clauses that would limit your ability to truthfully give your opinion. Don’t forget to completely read the contract as well.
- Ask questions. Ask the business why the clause is in the contract. Make sure you understand what happens if you break the clause or if you can back out of the contract if you feel uncomfortable a couple days after signing it.
- Negotiate with the business. Try to see if the clause can be removed. Seeking legal advice about the contract can ensure everything is done properly.
- Walk away. Alderman said if a business has a non-disparagement clause in their contract, you may want to rethink doing business with the company. You always have a choice. The clause may indicate the company is worried about a consumer saying something truthful about their services or business practices. Decide whether the clause is something you are comfortable with signing. If not, choose another company who can offer the same service.