Before signing on the dotted line …
A sales contract is concluded when a consumer buys or rents a product or a service for his personal use to a person acting within the framework of his commercial, commercial, craft or professional activity. A sales contract is binding whether it is concluded verbally, in writing and even electronically.
Sales contracts concluded in writing / electronically often include specific terms and conditions that consumers agree to when signing the contract. If there is a problem with the sale, the consumers’ right to a satisfactory remedy may depend on the agreed terms and conditions. With this in mind, it is in the consumer’s interest to take the time necessary to read and understand the sales contract before signing it.
First and foremost, consumers need to make sure that the contract includes everything that was agreed upon with the merchant when negotiating the purchase. Therefore, it must include a detailed description of the good or service, the total price, how payment will be made and, if applicable, the agreed delivery date. It is also important that the sales contract contains the full contact details of the merchant. If, during the examination of the contract, the consumer notices conditions different from those discussed and agreed orally, the consumer must immediately inform the trader and request that the contract be amended accordingly. In situations where consumers do not understand certain general conditions, they should not hesitate to ask the trader to explain and clarify these conditions.
A sales contract is binding whether it is concluded verbally, in writing and even electronically
Consumers should be very careful when certain terms and conditions are written in small print. These should be read carefully as they may contain very important information.
Another important responsibility of consumers is to be certain of the purchase they are about to make. Once the sales contract is signed or confirmed by the payment of a deposit, the consumer simply cannot change his mind. If they do, they may incur cancellation fees or even lose the deposit paid.
In the case of long-term contracts, such as those for the provision of telecommunications services, consumers should also pay particular attention to the termination procedure. Therefore, before consumers sign a sales contract, they need to consider what happens if they have to opt out of the deal.
Although consumers are required to read and fully understand a contract before signing it, traders cannot legally bind consumers to contractual terms that they were not aware of before the sale was concluded. Consumer law also states that consumer contracts must be written in clear and understandable language that can be easily understood by the average consumer. With regard to consumer rights, if the trader does not provide the product or service in accordance with the agreed contract, the consumer may request free and adequate remedy. In addition, if the trader is unable to honor the sales contract, consumers can choose to withdraw from the contract and request reimbursement of the money paid. Disputes regarding sales contracts can be directed to the MCCAA Consumer Affairs Office for advice and assistance.
Odette Vella, Director, Information and Research Directorate
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