FORT LEE, Va. (July 14, 2011) -- Whether the contract is for the purchase of a home or a car, for a cell phone plan, or for some other product or service, people tend to sign the official documents without fully reading all the terms. It is important that you understand all those terms to know what you are truly going to get for your money. 

When reading the contract, if there is a term you do not understand, either look it up in the dictionary for yourself or come into the Legal Assistance Office and consult with any attorney. Do not rely on the salesperson's explanation of the term.

A simple term like "waiver" or "as is" may have significant legal ramifications. You may give away valuable rights that you may have by signing such a contract.

Furthermore, if anyone is pressuring you to sign a contract, this should sound alarm bells in your head. What is so pressing that you need to sign without allowing you the time to contemplate whether this is a good idea or not? In most instances, salespeople will pressure you to sign since it is in their interests to make the sale. They are concerned that they will lose the sale if you don't sign. Your best bet is always to take someone with you who can act as the voice of reason while you are being beguiled by the salesperson.

Remember, you have the power of negotiation before you sign the contract. After you have signed the document, you can alter it by an amendment or addendum, but that will require consideration for that alteration. That consideration is usually in the form of more money that you will need to pay. Moreover, the company must agree to alter or modify the terms of the contract.

Should you have any questions regarding your legal matters, please make an appointment with an attorney at the Legal Assistance Office, (804) 765-1500.