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Contract Terms

It is important to read, understand and agree with any terms in a contract before you sign. This includes standard form contracts. The law does provide some protection against deceptive and extremely unfair terms in a contract but it is never a good idea to agree to a term assuming it will not be enforceable. The law also requires that you be provided with certain information in some cases but you must read this extra information to benefit from it.

Before you sign read all pages of a contract, including the fine print. In law, ignorance is no excuse. Contracts often have a clause in fine print that reads "The buyer has read and understood all additional terms on the reverse side and agrees they are part of the contract at this point."

Never...

  • Sign a contract you do not completely understand.
  • Sign a contract simply because you want to get rid of a salesperson.
  • Take a salesperson's assurances that part of the contract is unimportant and it is not necessary that you understand it.
  • Sign a blank contract and allow someone else to fill in the details later. You may have trouble proving that you did not agree to certain additions. Always cross out any blanks that do not apply to you.

At the end of all your effort, if you still are uneasy about a contract, simply do not go ahead with it. The law does provide protections that prevent sellers from including some unfair terms in a contract but in many cases a consumer will have to live with the terms they have agreed to.

These protections do not apply to private sales.

Keep in mind that sellers...

  • cannot include terms that are harsh, oppressive or excessively one-sided.
  • must give reasonable prominence to the total price of the goods or services when only part of the price is represented to the consumer.
  • cannot represent rights, remedies and obligations concerning the sale in a deceptive or misleading manner.
  • cannot enter into agreements where the price grossly exceeds a price consumers could get elsewhere.

Standard Form Contracts

Most contracts that consumers sign are standard form; they are printed in advance and you need only sign on the dotted line. Examples are cell phone contracts, car rentals and rent-to-own agreements.

These contracts are often long, technical, and full of fine print. These factors combined with time pressures mean that many people do not read before they sign. But, it is essential that you know what the contract contains. Many people do not have a detailed look at a contract until something goes wrong and at that point it is most often too late to get out of the deal.

Making Alterations

You can make alterations to a standard form contract. You may wish to add a "Subject to..." clause. For example, when buying a used car, you may want to write in "Subject to mechanic's approval". Or you may wish to cross out some clauses that you do not understand or that you do not agree with. Be sure to initial any changes you make and have the other party initial the changes as well. Always keep a copy of the contract.

However, many businesses will not permit alterations to be made to their contracts and if you choose to go elsewhere you may be faced with the same standard form contract. If so, the only solution is to know and understand the terms of the contract you are signing. If you do not like the terms, simply do not agree to them, and don't sign.

Required Information for Contracts

In some cases Saskatchewan law protects consumers by requiring that certain contracts be in writing and include some required information. A copy of these written contracts must be provided to the consumer within 15 days of the contract being signed.

There are five different types of consumer contracts that have specific rules about the information that must be in the contract. These rules apply to these types of contracts only when they involve the purchase of personal, family or household goods or services with a value of $50 or more. They do not apply to purchases from a private individual rather than a business.

The types of contracts covered by these rules are...

Remote Contracts - Where the purchaser and seller are not physically together including things like phone or mail orders and catalogue shopping.

Internet Contracts - Purchases made online.

Future Performance Contracts - Where you agree to buy something that you will receive or pay for in the future - some types of future performance contracts are not covered by these rules including purchases of gift cards and sales that relate to perishable foods.

Future performance contracts concerning personal development services or travel club benefits are covered by the rules for these types of agreements. Similarly, future performance contracts made over the internet or made when the parties are not physically present together are covered by the rules concerning these types of contracts.

Personal Development Services Contracts - Agreements for services related to things like health, fitness, dieting, modelling and talent, photo shoots, martial arts, sports, and dancing. Some types of personal development services contracts are not covered by these rules including contracts with non-profits, co-operatives, private clubs owned primarily by their members or organizations funded or run by the government or a charity.

Travel Club Contracts - Membership agreements that give you the right to discounts or other benefits when purchasing travel or vacation-related services such as transportation and accommodations.

The required information for these contracts includes...

  • purchaser’s name
  • date of the contract
  • contact information for the seller including their name, telephone and address and other contact information such as fax number and email address, if the seller uses these means to conduct business
  • if the contract takes place over a period of time the start and the end date
  • fair and accurate description of the goods, services, discounts or benefits
  • itemized amounts for all charges including taxes and shipping charges
  • a description of other possible charges such as customs and brokerage fees
  • currency that the payment must be in if payment is not in Canadian dollars
  • total amount payable
  • when and how the goods and/or services will be supplied
  • when and how payments must be made
  • information about delivery arrangements
  • cancellation, return, exchange and refund policies
  • any other restrictions, limitation and conditions that may apply

Personal Development Services contracts must have additional information including...

  • The address where the services will be provided.
  • The date on which each service will be available and any reduction in price if the service is not available on that date.
  • The consequences of the consumer missing any payment.
  • Information about cancellation rights.

Also...

  • The contract cannot be for more than two years.
  • The seller cannot require or accept prepayments for more than 12 months.
  • The seller must give the purchaser at least one option of paying by instalments of equal monthly payments over the course of the contract. The charge for spreading the payments out over the course of the contract cannot exceed 25% of the contract price.

Travel Club contracts must also have additional information including...

  • The place the contract was entered into.
  • A list of each payment and the goods or services for which it is payable.
  • The consequences of the consumer missing any payment.
  • Information about cancellation rights.

Also...

  • The contract cannot be for more than one year.
  • Any prepayment under the contract cannot be for than $500.

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