Terminating an alarm company contract early

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George wrote:

No, the alarm system had already been installed by the prior resident, who was the owner.
Stop wandering off nto fantasy land n your attempts to justify a corporate theft.
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Dan wrote:

try alt.security.alarms
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Thanks, I'll take a look.
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Dan wrote:

First, post this on alt.legal and / or misc.legal and you'll probably get a more informed response.
Second, just south of you in Oregon, the Oregon Court of Appeals on January 31, 2007, decided a very interesting case involving an adhesion contract with an allegedly unconscionable arbitration clause.
See, generally, See Vasquez-Lopez v. Beneficial Oregon, Inc., 210 Or App 553, 560, 152 P3d 940 (2007)
<http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/A125270.htm
A very interesing analysis of unconscionability and the voiding of unconscionable clauses in contracts. Of course, it doesn't control in Washington State,(and I have less than zero knowledge of Washington law on unconscionable contract clauses) but it may give you a starting point for analysis.
It should frighten the folks who use hidden mice type screw the customer clauses.
An early termination penalty may be unconscionable. Depends upon the facts.
Good luck!
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Jim-Thanks, I did post on misc.legal.moderated, post hasn't appeared yet (not yet approved by the moderator).

Thanks much for that, I'll look at the citation, sounds very interesting.
Dan
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Why would you sign a three year agreement on a rentsl property? You were taken by the alarm industry. Just pay up and be done with them. Yu signed so pay

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First, maybe you can get your coverage transferred to your new location. Do they cover that area. Even if it is a long distance call when you have an alarm or a test, that extra money will be a pittance, if they are in a position to notify the police (or whatever they do) in your new location.
If you can work something like this out, you probably will have to, because there is a general duty to mitigate damages in a contract case. That is, even though it might be "wrong" for them to collect money for no service, they did have a reasonable expectation you would be there long enough to complete your contract. Usually this means finding a new tenant for an apartment, or covering up even unordered building materials so they arent' ruined, but I think it would apply here, before you asked for relieve as in the next paragraph here.
Also, is there any chance you can get the new tenants at your old place to buy you out. But them you will have to give a discount to, unless your pro-rated three year contract is already at a discount, but the new tenant if he has any sense won't sign a contract with you, he'll only pay month by month.
Alternatively, I have no expericence like you ask for, haha, but I know the expression, The Law abhors a forfeiture. I think that is what you have here, if you forfeit the 700 dollars while getting nothing for it. But what the expression means in practice, I don't know. But I don't think people are necessarily held to every term of a contract, even if the contract is clear, despite the well intentioned comments of many people here.
You also have a contract of adhesion, one you had no input in writing, at least regarding the clause in question. IIRC that means that any ambiguity in the contract is interpreted in favor of the party that didn't draw the contract, but that might be a general rule and you might even have a tad more with a contract of adhesion. I forget, and different states are somewhat different anyhow, probably, even if I r remembered.
I also keep having this baseless notion that it can be better to pay a bill and sue for the money back then to risk a negative item on your credit report for not paying in the first place. Even though you could post an answer to the negative item on your credit report, I don't know that that really negates the item. My notino is baseless, because it comes totally out of my head. Check with someone who knows about credit, and who knows if a suit after payment is made is harder to win than if they sue you. They might not sue you, but then you will surely have a negative item on your credit report, and no court verdict to contradict it, only your own explanation.
I hear now that credit reports and credit score are used even when deciding to issue health insurance, on the theory I guess that people who don't take care of their bills don't take care of their bodies either. Or some such notion. And I know if you let your fire insurance lapse, some companies won't write a new policy. So I guess credit score and other irrelevancies are more important than ever.
Please I'd apprecitate any feedback on this because it involves a few issues I've wondered about for a long time, and might need to know some day.
No offense meant, but anyone who says you don't want to pay what the contract says would probably feel the same way in your shoes. Whether he read the contract in advance or not.
Oh yeah, if you could show in court or even before court maybe that a couple, several or every other company had a similar clause in their contract, or that the company you went with had a feature that other companies didn't offer, that would be good for you.
OTOH, if the company you are dealing with could show that you could have had a month to month contract for more money, that would be bad for you. You committed to 3 years to get a discount. OTOH, even if there were this higher priced contract, you should calculate how much 15 months of that would have cost you, subract what you have already paid, and offer to pay the difference. That would be fair, and would make you look good. Don't just offer, send them a letter with the caluculation in detail, and a check for the amount, marked Payment in Full, above where the payee endorses, which is better than the comment line beccause they are presumed to see that notation when they endorse the check. I don't know what the law is on notes made on the comment line, but that are is is mostly for your info, not for legal proof, afaik. Though mayyybe this is influenced by whether you get your checks themselves back, or you can only get printouts from the computer. If you get the checks back, you can write in the comment line after the fact. If you can get only a printout of both sides at once, maybe a judge will take the comment line seriously.)
And don't use a money order or anything but your own checking account for things like this, becausae you can't get a money order back and it it is probably very hard to get an image of the check. And certainly don't pay online because there is no way to make comments, or to prove them later. If no good answer during the life of this thread, maybe you can remove NOPSAM from my -from address and write me some day.

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wrote:

I still don't know, but it turns out that this expression is only a maxim. Doesn't change anything else I've said, or even what I said about this, but some more info from answers.com, fwiw. Nothing exactly parallel to your situation:
Equity abhors a forfeiture.
A forfeiture is a total loss of a right or a thing because of the failure to do something as required. A total loss is usually a rather stiff penalty. Unless a penalty is reasonable in relation to the seriousness of the fault, it is too harsh. In fairness and good conscience, a court of equity will refuse to permit an unreasonable forfeiture. This maxim has particularly strong application to the ownership of land, an interest for which the law shows great respect. Title to land should never be lost for a trivial reasonfor example, a delay of only a few days in closing a deal to purchase a house.
Generally equity will not interfere with a forfeiture that is required by statute, such as the loss of an airplane illegally used to smuggle drugs into the country. Unless the statute violates the due process requirements of the Constitution, the penalty should be enforced. Equity abhors a forfeiture does not overcome the maxim that equity follows the law.
Neither will equity disregard a contract provision that was fairly bargained. Generally it is assumed that a party who does most of what is required in a business contract, and does it in a reasonable way, should not be penalized for the violation of a minor technicality. A contractor who completes work on a bridge one day late, for example, should not be treated as though he or she had breached the entire contract. If the parties, however, include in their agreement an express provision, such as time is of the essence, this means that both of the parties understand that performance on time is essential. The party who fails to perform on time would forfeit all rights under the contract.

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Dan wrote:

Hello Dan,
I have experience with Protection One. The reason they will collect their fee, which they are billing you for, is they gave you a break on installation, providing you signed a service contract.
You can chose not to pay the bill, you can consult an attorney, which more than likely will charge you to review the contract. But, the final outcome will be, you will owe because you signed the contract.
Protection One will turn all debts over to a collection agency, your credit rating will drop, and in the end, you still will have to pay, plus all interest incurred at the highest amount allowed in the state of Washington.
I'm sure you will be hearing from us at Protection One.
Thank you for choosing Protection One, for your protection.
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There was no installation. The system/their yard signs/window stickers were present in the house when we signed the lease. I'm assuming the landlord, who had lived in the house prior to renting it, had it installed. There was no mention of a "break" for signing a 3 year contract, or of any alternate time arrangement, in fact there was no mention of the term at all either when I called to initiate the service, or when the guy came out to "test it" & get me to sign, even when I told him we were renting & looking to buy in the near future. Obviously he knew, but said nothing. I assumed it was month to month. There is no mention of any term on the front of the contract, it only appears on the back, which in retrospect I should have taken 45 minutes to read (all 4 legal-size, fine-print boiler plate-ese pages of it) while the "technician" stood there twiddling his thumbs. This was my 1st experience with an alarm company, had I known what I know now, I would have done things differently. I assumed it was like any other "utility", cable, electric, telephone, gas, etc., maybe you had an activation charge, but after that you paid monthly for as long as you used the service & when you were done, you were done. I'm sure all the arm-chair know-it-alls will claim they ALLLLLLWAYS read all the boiler plate, regardless of how long & regardless of who's waiting but most people don't, a fact the businesses rely on. I have an e-mail in to the landlord inquiring if the new tenants have signed with them. For all I know, the people before us are still paying for an early termination, the present tenants are paying for current service, and they expect me to pay until 2009 as well. Is this legal? Well I'm sure their army of attorneys has assured that it is. Whether it's right is another question.
BTW my wife & I have excellent credit, in the 800's. We own our house outright and the only consumer debt we have is a credit card we pay in full every month. We're probably in as good a position as anyone to tell the bastards to go fuck themselves. Which I may well do.
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Dan wrote:

...
Certainly understand the problem, but as you say, you assumed something that wasn't. Whether it's "right" or not unfortunately, has no bearing on the issue. You're only hope still is whether there's been some blanket action that you could use that the terms are excessively onerous. For the chance at most of $700, I'd call the lawyer and get a phone conversation. I've got a long-time "family lawyer" who I know won't steer me wrong and is reasonable for the occasional question. If you're not so lucky, many will give at least one telephone consultation free or at least cheaply. Oh, besides the AG thing, guess you could try the BBB and/or other consumer groups and see if you can find out anything you could use.
Unfortunately, w/ good credit and assets, that actually probably makes you in much worse position to tell them to shove it as you're worth pursuing (and the may also think $700 worth pursuing) whereas the deadbeat who can almost w/ impunity declare bankruptcy w/o doing any more damage to his credit, etc., than he's already done isn't worth pursuing because they know they'll get nothing.
If you want to live w/ the hell of a collection agency hounding you for who knows how many years, go for it. Otherwise, it's probably an expensive lesson learned, unfortunately.
Wish I had better prognosis... :(
--
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I didn't mention the argument before, and I even rebuked someone who thought you should just accept it and pay what the contract says, but...in fairness, no one including the know it alls have to claim that they theselves always read the contract to tell you that YOU SHOULD have read the contract.
This post is the first I hear that you didn't know the terms of the contract.
That's another wager, Will I lose out if I don't read the contract, or will I be ahead because I saved the time it took.
Nevertheless, everything I've said before still applies.
If this company didn't have a month to month price, another fair measure would be the month to month price of another company in the area, if it's services are comparable. If it's services are different, you can take the ration of it's 3-year contract price to your 3-year contract price and mulitply to get a fair month to month price for your company, but this is probably not totally necessary because the question is how much they will settle for, not what is exactly fair.
They will give it to a collection agency, but doesn't the collection agecny charge a healthy fee? That is another estiumate of what they will settle for, the total amount minus what the collection agency charges. They probably won't object on "principle" because you're not getting any unpaid service, so that principle isn't involved.

AFAIK, it's legal if there is no law against it, and no binding adminstrative rule against it. That is not to say that a court will enforce such a contract. So the result can be the same even if an action is not "illegal". If you can reach the prior tenants and they tell you they are still paying, you'll have a great argument. They should be willing to give you copies of their checks and you give them copies of their checks as evidence in court, espeically if they don't4 want to testify in your case or you in there's. Or the originals and if possible the accompanying bank statemennts, if the banks don't have an easy check printing service. I'm not sure how the authenticity of paid checks is proven in court, but tangible evidence is a lot better than hearsay, which is near worthless. And before there is a court case, you can tell them that you have the whatever you will have to prove payment for the same time by the prior tenants.
There are a lot of things that are not quite right that are not addressed specifically in any law. That is what courts are for. That is not the

Dopn't be sure of that. The question is not legality or not, in the first place, but don't be sure ever signed contract is enforcealbe. That doesn't mean you should be suing every time a contract might not be enforceable.
But just be aware of reality.
There was a short thread here tonight about the Duke students and the bad behaviour of the prosecutor. Angela S. Davis was on the radio today and she was saying that not disclosing exculpatory evidence is something that happens every day. It's just that most cases don't have such obvious holes, like an alibi that the prosecutor ignored. Or the obviousness that if they didn't rape her, the dna in her won't be theirs, so what does the DNA show. Also, most people don't have the money to pursue the issue well enough to find the undislocosed excul evidenc and the other thing she mentioned.
The same sort of thing happens in every area of our lives, including contracts.

That doesn't seem right. You signed it, and they will probably sue you. I got sued for less, $350?, also a genuine dispute, but because I was depressed, I didn't pursue my end, or even show up in court, where I would have lost because I hadn't prepared.
And I think you have it backwards. you have the most to lose, because you have such good credit. If you can't work out a deal, you have to see if you can pay now and sue later for what you just paid, and stand a chance of winning.
Because mostly lethargy and depression, I have somewhat bad credit, though I didn't pay for my credit score, but I know they wouldn't increase my credit limit to more than 1000 dollars, even though I have more than 50,000 dollars in the very bank where my credit card is. They don'pt care about that, it seems. (although it's impossible to find someone with any authority who will actually talk to me. Everything must be by email) But as long as I don't need any credit for the next 5 years, it won't matter. What I would like is a credit card with higher than a 1000 dollar limit. I won't get one because I pay fully at the end of every month too. I'm going to have to get 2 or 3 more cards with a 1000 limit for each one. I hate having more than 2 cards, and I won't know how many to carry with me. The only thing I really need credit for now is to rent a car. I think I offerrd to plunk down 1000 dollars and get the change later, but I don't think they would work that way, it has to be a credit card.
But you may want more credit than I want in the next 7 years. Did you move to another rental or did you buy a house? I see, you bought. How long before you want a bigger house? Or a home improvement or home equity loan? Or a better credit card?
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And now you got me really laughing. You believe and find credible what Angela Davis has to say about our court system? Why not just ask Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez?
As for the question at hand, it appears to me that Dan came here asking a very simple and relevant question. And that was whether anyone had any direct experience dealing with this company in a similar situation. Which is valid, because if he knows the company has settled for say 1/2 with others in a similar situation, that's very useful to know. Apparently, no one has the experience.

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On Wed, 20 Jun 2007 06:05:13 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Angela J. Davis. Sorry.

Angela J. Davis, the lawyer; not Angela Y. Davis, the Communist philosophy professor.
The second one is usually referred to without a middle initial, and I thought the radio show went to the trouble to include a middle initial to make clear it wasn't the same person, and I wondered why they didn't just say it was a different person. But then, strangely, I did the same thing here.
Angela J. Davis is pretty clearly a moderate, going out of her way several times to say that she thought it was proper for police to have discretion about whom they arrest, and for prosecutors to have discretion about whom they charge etc. But she wanted people to know that they are not perfect either. Wherever there are people, things are not perfect, usually far from perfect.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)82364264&sr=8-6
Certainly anyone who was disgusted at Niefong's behaviour will agree with much of what is in her book, _Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor_.

Right. Nobody has that, so a lot of people are chiming in with other stuff. But he seemed to appreciate some of the other stuff.
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