Do you read the small letter when signing a document?

We all know that we should carefully read everything that we are about to sign to make sure that we are 100% aware of what it is we are committing to. However, how many times we have heard the words “This is just standard wording, etc…no need to read it, please sign on the dotted line…”?

Nobody likes to seem suspicious when we are at a bank opening a bank account, or taking up a savings or pension plan, for example…it makes us feel vulnerable and silly, so we tend to throw caution to the wind and sign the documents, hoping that in fact it is all standard wording and that what the nice person at the bank is telling us about the services we are purchasing is, in fact, what it says on the contract…Worse still is when the documentation is all in Spanish and we get a quick two minutes verbal translation of what is written on it.

We have had several cases in which clients have come to our offices after realising that what they had signed up for was not in fact what they thought they were getting. Clients that invested large amounts of money thinking that on maturity of the policy they would get a nice return, only to realise that, in fact, the return they were counting on did not materialize and the capital invested had all but disappeared… Or clients that thought they were opening a short term high interest savings account to find out some time later that in fact their money was tied up in bonds that could not be accessed or liquidized for a few more years…Add to this what has been going on with banks in Spain lately, with all the fusions and takeovers, and you can see why it is so important not to enter into any formal agreement until you have read and understood absolutely everything concerning the transaction.

Next time you find yourself in a similar situation, get copies of everything the bank gives you, thank the teller profusely and tell them that you will be back, a couple of days later, once your legal advisers  have had a chance to examine the deal and have explained to you all the terms and conditions involved.

It is your money; make sure that you retain control of it…

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