In the 1980s, there was a PBS kids’ game show based on the importance of reading documents before signing them. At the time, I didn’t know anything about this, but this idea stuck in my head. As I got older, I learned that reading before signing anything can save you money and stress.
Before signing any document, read or at least skim it first. This way you will have an idea of what you are getting into. Sometimes important detail can be hidden within the document or in small print.
Make sure you understand all terms and conditions; because once you sign, it could be a mess to get out of the agreement.
Now, if the person asking you to sign gets impatient with your reading or skimming over it, be wary of signing! If the person has been honest, they are going to be okay with you reading or skimming before you sign. They want you to know what you’re getting into.
Also, if the person tells you what is in the document, read or skim it anyway! Sometimes their explanation summarizes what the document says, but not every little thing.
I know because I used to do this when I worked in a nationally known furniture store office. When a person would come to pick up something, they had to sign a form saying what they and we were responsible for. Before they would sign, I would tell them the most important points of the form.
How I learned–Storytime
The way I learned was not-so-happy. When I bought my white Chevy Cobalt sedan years ago, I didn’t buy the extended car warranty because I thought I wouldn’t need it. I’m good about maintaining my car. Oil changes. Tune-ups. Anything it needs.
On the way home in my new car, I heard a faint, rattling sound from the undercarriage. I instantly started thinking about getting that warranty. So, I went back to the dealership and got the contract. Since I didn’t have the $1600 to pay upfront, I added it to the cost of the car.
Before signing, I skimmed over some of the warranty pages; and everything looked fine. After I got the warranty, the strange rattling sound under my car stopped.
Then one day, the sound came back; and each day it got louder. I had to get this cleared up, so I got out the warranty and started to read it. That’s when I found out this warranty wasn’t what I thought it was.
It was for catastrophic damage only! This meant that the car had to break down on the side of the road before this warranty would cover anything.
I was MAD! This warranty was useless! After I calmed down, I started to think about everything. If I had read the warranty or skimmed better, I would have found this out.
Okay, this was my fault. So, how do I fix it? There are two ways. 1) Fix my car, and 2) Get rid of this warranty. I chose both!
I made an service appointment at the dealership where I got the car. While my car was being repaired, I asked to speak with the Finance person I had spoken to when I bought the car. Unfortunately, he wasn’t at work today, but I was able to speak with another Finance person about dropping the warranty.
He told me that even if I canceled the warranty, it wouldn’t change the amount of my car payment. At that point, I didn’t care. This warranty was crap and I didn’t want it anymore.
Ultimately, the warranty was canceled, and I got a refund for the remaining months of the warranty. Luckily, this incident worked out. But not all do.
Always read before signing any paperwork. Don’t let anyone rush you! It’s your name that is going on the line, not theirs. It can save you money and stress.