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Infolawyer
Infolawyer, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 50104
Experience:  Licensed attorney helping individuals and businesses.
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I was under a 3 year contract with ADT Security Systems. After

Customer Question

I was under a 3 year contract with ADT Security Systems. After one year, they raised my quarterly statement payment amount. They said that according to the contract they are allowed to raise my bill after one year. I canceled my contract but now owe them 75% the balance on what is left of the 3 years (according to the contract).

Can a company change any of the terms of the contract and I am still bound to the contract even if they write in the contract that they can change it? What is the point of a contract? Why can they change it but I cannot? What if they raised my bill by 3,000%? I would then owe 75% on that?

Thanks for your time and assistance.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Infolawyer replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you for the question. I am sorry to read of this dilemma. Did they raise the rate after the term ended? what outcome do you want?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
They raised my payment amount after one year of the 3 year contract. I was told that if a company changes any portion of a contract at any time, the contract is void because the other party also needs to agree.
Expert:  Infolawyer replied 2 years ago.
If the contract provides a rate, that rate cannot be changed during the term of the contract unless both sides agree in writing or the contract provides for periodic and specific increases to which you agreed. Otherwise, the unilateral increases are void, and customer may on this basis void the contract as well.
Infolawyer, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 50104
Experience: Licensed attorney helping individuals and businesses.
Infolawyer and 6 other Consumer Protection Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The contract I signed states that they “have to right to increase the ANNUAL SERVICE CHARGE” at any time after the first year”. They go on to state that if I disagree to the increase, I must respond in writing and if they then do not agree to waive the increase I can cancel with not penalty.

However, there are no words ‘Annual Service Charge’ on the services provided and what I am paying for. On the section of what my services are in that section of my contract (the ‘Services to be Provided’ section, it is written “Standard Monthly Service, Fire/Smoke Detection” and the amount is stated and is given per month as a 'monthly service charge'.

Can they call it an ‘ANNUAL SERVICE CHARGE’ in the terms of the contract, but call it a ‘monthly service charge’ under the “Standard Monthly Service, Fire/Smoke Detection” on the list of charges on what I am paying for?

And if they go ahead and bill me the higher rate to which I need to respond, haven’t they already changed and voided the contract? Am I bound to writing them and asking them to waive the raise? It sounds like a pretty one-sided contract to me.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The contract I signed states that they “have to right to increase the ANNUAL SERVICE CHARGE” at any time after the first year”. They go on to state that if I disagree to the increase, I must respond in writing and if they then do not agree to waive the increase I can cancel with not penalty.

However, there are no words ‘Annual Service Charge’ on the services provided and what I am paying for. On the section of what my payment is (the ‘Services to be Provided’ section, it is written “Standard Monthly Service, Fire/Smoke Detection” and the price is given per month.

Can they call it an ‘ANNUAL SERVICE CHARGE’ in the terms of the contract, but call it ‘Services to be Provided’ on the list of charges on what I am paying for? And if they go ahead and bill me the higher rate to which I need to respond, haven’t they already changed and voided the contract? Am I bound to writing them and asking them to waive the raise? It sounds like a pretty one-sided contract to me.

Expert:  Infolawyer replied 2 years ago.
It is one sided indeed. You can contest the charge and cancel, or you can negotiate a reduced fee.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Am I bound to giving them a chance to lower my rate back down to the contract term or is the contract basically voided by their actions and I can immediately cancel?
Expert:  Infolawyer replied 2 years ago.
The contract as you note lets you cancel on basis of the increase, correct?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Only if I give them a written objection of the increase and then they do not accept to keep the old rate. Only at that point does the contract allow me to cancel without penalty.

But, I would think a 'real' contract is just that a contract which binds us to every aspect that I signed. Not sprinklings of escape clauses for them. Both of us should be bound. If they can change anything they want and then I have to object to it, and then they can accept it or not, it is not much of a contract. They are not bound by anything. But, I know that logic or fairness doesn't always mean what is legally right.

So, am I bound in having to give them the opportunity to keep the old rate and thus continue the contract or can I just view it as voided simply because they changed the rate listed on the contract even though they tried to claim they had the right to do this? Will I need to take them to small claims court to enforce my right or contest it?
Expert:  Infolawyer replied 2 years ago.
It would make sense then to follow through with the objection process and then either they will correct or the contract will cancel on that basis. Anything else invites a breach of contract litigation.

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