How often have you accepted terms and conditions and signed documents without reading them? Never, I hope, and I wish I could say the same. With all the recent changes in data protection laws and privacy policies, every couple of days I seem to be asked to accept updated terms and conditions of something or other, or to complete, sign and return non-disclosure agreements, even from companies that I have been working with for a decade or more.
Perhaps this endless signing and accepting was what made me make the massive mistake I made the other day of signing something without reading it, and although telling you this shows me up as a complete fool I am, I am sharing it in the hope that you won’t do the same.
When I decided to sell my house, I didn’t even need to put it on the market. All the local estate agents started banging on my door, wanting to put it on their books. Why? Well, where I live there are more estate agents than banks, restaurants and bars, and plots like the one my house sits on are like hen’s teeth, in other words, there aren’t any. The house has been in the family for more than 50 years, and it is on a large, flat plot which is not overlooked and has amazing sea views.
It took just 10 days for someone to offer my asking price, however, the estate agent handing the sale has a reputation of being a ‘shark’ and a ‘charlatan’. However, they all charge the same exorbitant rate of commission, and he got me the price I wanted, so what did it matter? Well, it has mattered plenty. He brought round the sale agreement, which I read carefully, pointing out the clauses that were not acceptable. He scratched them all out, I signed all the pages and amendments and he took it away.
A few days later he came back and gave me a copy signed by the buyer. This is the agreement with the changes, he said, just sign this copy and we’re all done… and I did. But it wasn’t the same agreement. It was full of clauses making me responsible for paying for all kinds of things… and I’d signed it. Now I’ve had to engage a lawyer to sort it all out for me and I still have to pay the lying skunk many thousands of euros when he has most certainly NOT acted in my interests.
So, the moral of the story is, don’t trust anyone… particularly when you’ve been warned, and NEVER SIGN ANYTHING before reading it yourself. And I am not very smart.