Are electronic signatures legally binding?

January 9, 2013 18:43 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed:

I hired a company to clean up some water damage. I had to sign an agreement by using a computer device the company brought to my home. It turns out, I agreed to more than I thought.  Are there any safeguards for consumers when signing an agreement on a computer screen?  Is it the same as signing a piece of paper?

Consumer Ed says: 

Based on the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, which has been adopted by the Georgia legislature, a signature is not considered invalid solely because it is in electronic form.  If a signature is required on a document by law, an electronic signature satisfies the law.  Therefore, your signature on the computer device could have created a binding contract between you and the company that cleaned the water damage in your home.  However, it has to be an otherwise legal contract, which means it must contain all elements of a legal contract. These include: appropriate and clear recitals of subject matter, consideration, price and key terms. If you suspect that the contract was deceptive or fraudulent, or that the company failed to provide the service it promised, you should contact an attorney to discuss your options.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Rate This


Online auction company refusing to sell property after contract signed

January 26, 2012 17:53 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed:

Can a real estate auction company refuse to sell a property in an online "absolute auction" after the hammer falls, even though the contract was signed by the buyer and funds and contracts were sent by the specified time frame?

Consumer Ed says: 

Typically, an auction suggests that the seller is inviting bidders to make offers, which may be accepted or rejected.  Usually the seller has reserved the right to accept or reject the bid, or set a minimum price the bidder must meet.  Unless otherwise specified, all auctions are presumed to be like this. 

However, a seller can announce the sale is to be “without reserve”, which means the auction is an offer to sell to the highest bidder regardless of price.  This is also referred to as an “absolute auction.”  In this case, once the auction has opened to bids, the seller cannot withdraw the property nor reject the highest bid, because the seller is essentially promising to sell the property to the highest bidder once a bid has been made.  Unless there were special terms of acceptance that were clearly disclosed before the start of the auction, the seller cannot withdraw the property from the sale after a bid.

In any event, precise facts need to be nailed down, and you should contact an attorney to discuss your rights and options against the real estate auction company.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Rate This


Changing a contract after you've signed it

December 21, 2011 00:00 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed: 

My husband signed a contract for replacing our flooring that did not include the dates of service, payment schedule or whether the company would be responsible for disposing of the old flooring. They have not started the work yet. Can I change the contract before they start?

Consumer Ed says: 

This is a legal question, so the first thing you need to do is consult with an attorney about your rights in this situation. You should be aware, however, that unlike some states, Georgia does not require home improvement providers to include in their contracts the price of their services, the start and completion dates, and all work that is to be performed.  If your contract does not contain those specifics, it could give you a legitimate basis for asking your contractor to clarify those terms in writing.  If the contractor refuses to do so, you may have to stick with what the current contract says, (unless an extreme circumstance occurs, e.g. the contractor breaches a crucial term of the contract or delays beginning or completing the work for an unreasonable amount of time).  Assuming your contractor does agree to make the requested changes, ask him to add an additional section to the contract that addresses the changes and be sure you and the contractor both sign that addendum.

In the future, before entering into any kind of service agreement, you should read it carefully to make sure that its important terms are very clear.  Be sure that you fully understand your obligations and the obligations of the other party.  If you don't understand the contract, or if you have any questions, have an attorney review and explain the contract to you before you sign it.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Rate This


Credit/Debt
nav_cap