A Great Deal…or Too Good to be True?

photo of person signing contract

That deal of a lifetime that seems too good to be true? It probably is in fact too good to be true. Before you or your ministry sign a contract for goods or services, be sure you understand the company you are dealing with and the terms of the agreement. Check out Better Business Bureau reports, look at internet customer reviews, request references from other customers, and in the case of contractors, make sure they are properly licensed, bonded, and insured. And don’t be tempted to bypass these safeguards just because a person is or claims to be a Christian—unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily mean the person runs a legitimate business. Many pastors and ministries call us after they’ve been swindled by scammers. And we’ve seen many self-proclaimed Christians take advantage of their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. The following “red flags” should give you pause prior to entering into any agreement, whether written or verbal:

  • A contractor or salesperson who will not provide references in the name of “protecting customer privacy”
  • High-pressure sales tactics, especially those that say a deal is good “today only!” (In most cases, if they are legitimate and really want your business, they will keep the so-called “deal” open for you.)
  • Contractors who require payment in full before a job begins (Too many people and ministries who paid ahead never saw the contractor again.)
  • Failure to provide clear documentation of the terms of the agreement, including any warranty or guarantee information
  • A company who deals strictly “under the table” (This usually means the contractor is not paying taxes, and there will not be a documented record of your payment.)

This list is by no means exhaustive. The point is this: do your homework!

Once you determine you are dealing with a reputable company, it’s just as important to ensure that you carefully review the terms of the agreement and consider the following:

  • Be sure there is a provision requiring that any modifications be in writing so the other party cannot the change the terms without your knowledge.
  • Ensure that there are no blank lines that could be filled in later. This leaves open the very real possibility that they will be filled by the other party without your knowledge or consent.
  • Make sure that all the negotiated terms have been included within the terms of the contract.

Due diligence before you sign will help you discern whether you are dealing with a reputable company and that the terms of your agreement are, in fact, what you agreed upon.

The attorneys at the NCLL have assisted many ministries with drafting, interpreting, and enforcing contractual agreements. This is one of the many services we provide to our premier partners. If your ministry is not already partnering with us, check out the benefits. We look forward to serving you!