If your lawyer was only allowed to give you four words of advice for how you conduct business, the phrase “Get It In Writing” would likely be what you are told.
When you have to sue another business to collect money that they owe you, one of the most important documents you will need to prove your case is a contract. While it is true the there is such a thing as an oral contract formed by the words and actions of the parties, it is far easier to prove the contents of your agreement if it is in the form of a signed document.
The problem with an oral agreement is that it is hard to prove what it was. You say one thing. The other side says something else. While you may think the you are a more trustworthy person than the person who didn’t pay you, the judge and jury don’t know either of you. People, including judges and juries, tend to seek the simplest answer to a problem. If you are able to point to a contract and announce that the answer to the problem is in that document, then you are likely well on your way to victory.
This general principle should be applied to other interactions you have with your customer as well.
- Keep records of customer communications
- Document customer complaints in writing
- Document solutions to customer complaints in writing
- Document your customer’s acceptance of solutions in writing
- Document special terms given to a customer and the customer’s acceptance
With documented proof of your customer’s complaints and acceptance of remedies and acknowledgement of changes in terms, your chances of success will be dramatically enhanced should the matter require litigation.