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Copy That – Review the Contract when Buying or Leasing Office Equipment


Is it time to buy or lease a new copier or other electronic productivity tool? Read the fine print. When you have a dispute, you have agreed in many cases to “arbitrate” (private court without appeal) rather than litigate. So when it does not work, you will not be suing the vendor for the cost of repairs or non-existent service.

In other cases, there is litigation, but it is at the place designated, “venue,” in the agreement and generally not the state where you do business. So when that dispute arises, you get to travel to the other state to bring or defend your law suit. Now there is a good time for sure.

Finally, there is the lease or financing option. That is when the vendor sells you the machine or leases it to you and agrees to “arrange for the lease or financing.” Sounds great. Once the machine does not work, surprise! The lease is separate from the agreement with the vendor. That means that if the copy machine does not work, off we go to arbitration or litigation in another state. But, to make matters worse, the suit for the defective machine is a different entity than the lender or lessor. So the lease or financing payments continue on a machine that does not work.

The answer? Try to: 1) not allow arbitration, 2) make sure that the lease and vendor are one entity without the ability to separate the contracts, 3) think about buying the machine from a local vendor that provides local service.

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