Sometimes, contracts appear to have a set end date, but one party will sneak an automatic-renewal clause into the text. If you sign a contract with one of these clauses, you will have to provide advance notice for termination to the other party, which is difficult to do if you aren’t aware the clause exists. Check thoroughly that a contract really sunsets when you expect it to, without renewing automatically.
“In countless instances, small business owners, often without their knowledge, continue having payments deducted from their bank account or charged to their credit card long after they ceased using the service,” said Marc Rapaport, founder of Rapaport Law Firm PLLC. “I suggest carefully reviewing a contract to determine whether it provides for automatic renewals. Either negotiate these out of the agreement or carefully calendar the date on which you need to give notice of termination.”
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Financial obligations – Another common “gotcha” is any clause that requires you to pay the other party’s legal fees or fulfill other financial obligations in the event there is a conflict or pricing change. If you sign a contract with these clauses, there is little you can do to defend yourself.
“Business owners should carefully review the default provisions in a proposed contract,” Rapaport said. “Contracts that require a business owner to pay the other party’s legal fees, or which escalate the balance of periodic payments, put you at the mercy of the other party.”