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BEWARE  of   Automatic Renewal Exterminator Contracts

( Copyright 2012 Shawn Cole. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Cole Home Maintenance is an exterminator Located in Palatine and serving towns in
Lake County, Cook County, Mc Henry County, Du Page County, Kane County
630-306-7925
$60.00 to spray up to a 2 bedroom apt for bed bugs






ARE YOU STUCK IN A 1-YEAR CONTRACT WITH AN EXTERMINATOR WHO
AUTOMATICALLY RENEWED THE CONTRACT FOR ANOTHER YEAR?

Did you call after your first 1-year contract was completed -- only to find out that your exterminator refused to stop the contract and claimed he "AUTOMATICALLY RENEWED" the original contract and you now have to pay for another year?

HELP IS ON THE WAY    The law in Illinois put restrictions on companies who automatically renew contracts.  If the exterminator did not follow the provisions of the law   - that contract may not be enforceable and you can cancel the contract after you complete the initial 1 year contract you signed.  The following highlights the law to protect you.  Many apartment building owners thought they only signed up for a 1-year contract and find that in the "fine, small-print" there is a clause that the exterminator put in the first contract that you can never cancel his contract because he automatically renewed the contract when your one-year was completed.   

Most people think they are only signing a 1-year contract.  When they become unhappy or simply want to hire another company, they wait until the year is up and think that is the end of dealing with that exterminator.  WRONG!    Look at that contract and you will probably find somewhere in it -- some words saying that the exterminator has the right to automatically renew the original contract for another year.   That's another year of paying money to an exterminator that you no longer want.

The following highlights the Illinois law that is written to protect you.  Many apartment building owners thought they only signed up for a 1-year contract and find that in the "fine, small-print" there is a clause that the exterminator put in the first contract that you can never cancel his contract unless you take certain actions to cancel. The definition of "conspicuous" means that when a contract is written that a reasonable person against whom it is to be operated ought to have noticed it.  That part of the contract has to be in a different color, larger printing or done in such a way that you cannot miss seeing it.

Did your Exterminating Company follow the law?

 If not -- his automatic renewal may not be valid.

If your exterminator company (or any other service company providing a service on at least a 1-year contract) must follow the Illinois law in order to enforce that "automatic renewal" clause".   If your 1-year contract is completed, and you want to cancel,  you may be told that the exterminator refuses to cancel - that you signed the original contract with an "automatic renewal"  -- and that there is nothing you can do about it until the next 12-months are completed.   WRONG.    There may be help for you.    If the following rules in Illinois law don't help you -- talk to the other apartment owners and you may all have to join together to hire an attorney to get out of that contract.     

The complete text of the law is at the end of this article.  Here are the highlights that may help you:

1.  Section 10 Automatic Renewal:    the law dated February 26, 1999 provided in Section 10 that the "clause provide for automatic renewal must appear in AT LEAST 14 POINT BOLD TYPE.   (The letters would be about 1/4 inch high).   The latest law does not specifically define the "type size" anymore, but does say the company who issued the contract "SHALL DISCLOSE THE AUTOMATIC RENEWAL CLAUSE CLEARLY AND CONSPICUOUSLY IN THE CONTRACT, INCLUDING THE CANCELLATION PROCEDURE

2.  Section 10 also states that your exterminator MUST  "NOTIFY THE CONSUMER IN WRITING OF THE AUTOMATIC RENEWAL.   WRITTEN NOTICE SHALL BE PROVIDED TO THE CONSUMER NO LESS THAN 30 DAYS AND NO MORE THAN 60 DAYS BEFORE THE CANCELLATION DEADLINE PURSUANT TO THE AUTOMATIC RENEWAL CLAUSE..."

3.  Section 15 states:  "A VIOLATION OF THIS ACT CONSTITUTES AN UNLAWFUL PRACTICE UNDER THE CONSUMER FRAUD AND DECEPTIVE BUSINESS PRACTICES ACT".

4.  Section 10 (c) (iii) states:  "WHERE AN ERROR HAS CAUSED A FAILURE TO  COMPLY WITH THIS ACT, IT PROVIDES A FULL REFUND OR CREDIT FOR ALL AMOUNTS BILLED TO OR PAID BY THE CONSUMER FROM THE DATE OF THE RENEWAL UNTIL THE DATE OF THE TERMINATION OF THE ACCOUNT, OR THE DATE OF THE SUBSEQUENT NOTICE OF RENEWAL, WHICHEVER OCCURS FIRST". 


IF YOU DID NOT RECEIVE A WRITTEN NOTICE THAT YOUR EXTERMINATOR WAS AUTOMATICALLY RENEWING YOUR CONTRACT -- AND  YOU DID NOT RECEIVE THAT NOTICE -- YOUR "AUTOMATIC RENEWAL" MAY BE VOID.   Contact a lawyer for legal advise as to what action you can take to stop being billed for another year.     If you did not receive that notice, the exterminator did not comply with the law.    Did that exterminator send you a "registered letter" to prove he sent you the notice.  If not, the exterminator can claim he sent it but that doesn't guarantee you received it.     Don't be afraid of how much lawyers charge.  It will probably be as simple as having the lawyer write a letter to have the automatic renewal voided.

Here is how the "automatic renewal clause" works:

The Evergreen Clause

The "Evergreen Clause" is a statement within a contract that says something to the effect of "this agreement shall automatically renew  for another one (1) year term, unless either party provides notice to the other of its intent to terminate this s agreement not less than thirty (30 ) days before the end of the then current term"

The clause in the original contract allows the company to continue charging you for an additional period of time AFTER THE INITIAL CONTRACT IS COMPLETED.   That's why they call the clause an "evergreen clause"  - the company can keep extending the original contract forever unless you meet some small window in time to cancel their services. 

The wording of the clause that your particular exterminator uses may be slightly different than the above example but it will all have words that allow them to keep their contract valid and going forever unless you take the proper action to get that contract cancelled.    They can create this narrow window to say you must cancel sometime before the original contract time ends or provide you with a very small window of time -- say 30 days before the contract ends.  If you don't do that -- you will pay for another contract -- just as if you had agreed to extend the contract. 

Most people simply assume they signed for a 1-year contract and now that one years is over and they are done with that company.  Surprise!    You call the company and tell them to stop billing you and that you don't want their services anymore.  The exterminator company tells you that you signed an agreement that allows them to continue billing for another contract and you owe them money.   They may tell you that you cannot stop them.  They may tell you that they will ruin your credit   or put a   lien on your building if you do not continue to pay them.    They scare the average person into believing they must continue paying them for another year.!!

If they did tell you that they are going to automatically renew your contract they may use phoney reasons to get you to sign.  They may say it is to "lock in your price".  The problem is that there is probably another clause in the contract that says the exterminator can raise his prices in the future.  It also will be in small - fine print. 

NEVER SIGN A CONTRACT THAT CONTAINS AN "EVERGREEN CLAUSE" .   If you want that company's services, simply ask that the "automatic renewal clause" be removed from the contract.  Simply draw a line with a pen through the sentences and initial next to the change. Request a change to the contract.  Honest businessmen will allow you to do this.  If your exterminator refuses -- you have a problem company.

What To Do If You Already Signed a Contract With an Automatic Renewal Clause?

Look at the original contract.  Look for the words "sometime before"  or "sometime within".     Every contract MUST have some wording to allow you to cancel the contract or it is not valid. 

If your original contract says "sometime before" - then simply send a registered letter to the company that says that at the end of the original contract -- you are cancelling.  Keep a copy of the original letter.  Keep a copy of the post office's "return receipt" green card to prove you sent them the letter.   That can be done at any time during the original contract -- even the next day after signing.

If your  original contract says "within thirty (30) days before the end of your contract" -- you have to mark your calender to send that letter within that time-frame.    Most of these companies use the "within statement" hoping that you will forget to cancel and they can simply continue to bill you for another year of services.

They do this so that you are their "cash-cow" having to keep paying them  money even though you no longer want their service.  That's why a lot of the major exterminators won't  spray your apartment building or business unless you sign a contract.   The company knows you probably don't understand what that one sentence means and it  becomes built in money every month for them.



An attorney can read the original contract and see if the exterminator faithfully completed his job every month.   If not - the exterminator is not fulfilling his contract with you.

THE ILLINOIS LAW

BUSINESS TRANSACTIONS

(815 ILCS 601/) AUTOMATIC CONTRACT RENEWAL ACT

(815 ILCS 601/1)
Sec. 1.  Short title.  This Act may be cited as the Automatic Contract Renewal Act
(source:  P.A. 91-674, eff. 6-1-00)

(815 ILCS 601/5)
Sec. 5.  Definition.  In this Act:
"Contract" means a written agreement between 2 or more parties.

"Parties" include individuals and other legal entities, but do not include the federal government, this State or another state, a unit of local government, or a school district.
(Source:  P.A. 91-674, eff. 6-1-00)

(815 ILCS 601/10)
Sec. 10.  Automatic renewal; requirements

(a)  Any person, firm, partnership, association, or corporation that sells or offers to sell any products or services to a consumer pursuant to the contract, where such contract automatically renews unless the consumer cancels the contract, shall disclose the automatic renewal clause clearly and conspicuously in the contract, including the cancellation procedure.

(b)  Any person, firm, partnership, association or corporation that sells or offers to sell any products or services to a consumer pursuant to a contract,  where such contract term is a specified term of 12 months or more, and where such contract automatically renews for a specified term of more  than one month unless the consumer cancels the contract, shall notify the  consumer in   writing of the automatic renewal.   Written notice shall be  provided to the consumer not  less than 30 days and no more than 60 days  before the cancellation deadline pursuant to the automatic renewal clause.  Such written notice shall disclose clearly and conspicuously:

(i)  that unless the consumer cancels the contract it will automatically renew; and

(ii)  where the consumer can obtain details of automatic renewal provision and cancellation procedure (for example, by contacting the business at a specified telephone number or address or by referring to the contract).

(c)  A person, firm, partnership, association, or  corporation will not be liable for a violation of this Act or the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act  if such person, firm, partnership, association, or  corporation demonstrates, that as part of its routine  business practice:

(i)  it has established and implemented written procedures to comply with this Act and enforces compliance with the procedures:

(ii)  any failure to comply with this Act is the result of error; and

(iii) where an error has caused a failure to comply  with this Act, it PROVIDES A FULL REFUND  OR CREDIT  for all  amounts billed to or paid by the consumer from the date of  the  renewal until the date of the termination of the  account, or the date of the subsequent notice of renewal,  whichever occurs first.

(Source:  P.A. 93-950, eff. 1-1-05).

(815 ILCS 601/15)
Sec. 15  Violation.  A violation of this Act constitutes an unlawful practice under the Consumer fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. 
(Source:  P.A. 93-950, eff. 1-1-05.)

(815 ILCS 601/20)
Sec. 20  Applicability.

(a)  This Act does not apply to a contract entered into before the effective date of this Act.

(b)  This amendatory act of the 93rd General Assembly does not apply to a contract entered into before the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 93rd General Assembly.

(c)  This Act does not apply to business-to-business contracts.

(d)  This Act does not apply to banks,  trust companies, savings and loan associations, savings banks, or credit unions licensed or organized under the laws of any state or the United States, or any foreign bank maintaining  a branch or agency licensed or organized under the laws of any state of the  United States, or any subsidiary or affiliate thereof.

(e)  This Act does not apply to a contract that is extended beyond the  original term of the contract as  the result of the consumer's initiation of  a change in the original contract terms.
(Source:  P.A. 93-950, eff. 1-1-05).