Welcome to my world: clients come into my office after having been taken advantage of or treated badly by a company -- a dealer, a bank, a mortgage company, a student-loan lender, a pharmacy, you name it. In many of these cases, the clients come in knowing exactly what has gone wrong. They show me the problems in their paperwork . . . right above their signatures. And they explain how clearly they can see now that they should have taken things a little slower and gotten some advice on that deal before hand. The other day, a couple came to see me. They're struggling with what a $50,000 lemon is doing to what were supposed to be Golden Years of travel and enjoyment. They've had a lifetime of work and some health issues, and planned to be off with the grandkids right now, not in my office. I think I can help them -- but I have to be honest and warn them that
(1) there are no guarantees in legal disputes . . . as just as I feel their cause is, they could lose, no matter how well I represented them; and
(2) the law is definitely stacked against consumers -- if we sue Lemon Dealer and they make an offer in settlement that comes nowhere close to compensating the clients for their misery over this lemon, they have to take that offer very seriously, because if we go to trial and don't beat the offer, they could be on the hook for dealer's legal expenses. So they could feel an intense amount of pressure to settle for an inadequate amount, just to end the pain of uncertainty and avoid the risks of a bad result.
Bottom line is this: litigation is costly and about as much fun as a root canal without painkillers. But if Mr. and Mrs. Lemon Buyers had paid $500 . . . just 1% of what they spent on their lemon . . . to have me read their contract and warranty before they signed, I could have saved them an ENORMOUS amount of frustration and sleeplessness with the transaction, and probably had the dealer knock the whole $500 off the price in the first place.
Please, regardless of who you go to, if you're looking at a pre-printed contract for an amount larger than you'd care to lose in a ripoff or dispute, then have an Oregon attorney review it for you and warn you about any pitfalls and help you make sure you understand exactly what you are promising and what they are promising.
Remember: Every pre-printed contract someone gives you has been examined by SEVERAL attorneys with a microscope. The problem is, every one of those attorneys worked for the other side. So they had one and only one mission: to make the contract iron-clad against you and to give as much flexibility and freedom to their client as the law allows. And the law allows one hell of a lot of freedom to the drafter if the consumer goes along with it, as indicated by signing on the dotted line --- which consumers nearly always do, without so much as reading it.
People have gotten so used to doing things without consulting attorneys that they don't even realize that, time was, ordinary people were careful to consult one before signing a big deal, because they were more (properly) skeptical of the people on the other side. People who grew up in the Depression knew that banks and big companies were not their friends; but that memory is dying, and we have far too many people who think the beautiful people in the ads are what the companies really are.
If you have so little money that you can't afford 1-2% of the cost (2% for smaller contracts) to have an attorney review your contracts before you sign them, then you don't have enough money to sign the contracts.