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We recently had a massive hailstorm and, following that storm, we saw an endless stream of roofing contractors knocking on our door. We're in Boulder County, Colorado.

A representative from one of those construction companies pointed out some damage and offered to meet with the insurance adjuster, which he did. Our insurance company wrote us a check to cover some of the hail damage.

After emphatically explaining how amazing his replacement windows are, he produced an iPad and asked me to "sign". I foolishly squiggled on the screen. Here's what it said:

  • Quote is valid until ADD DATE HERE
  • CCC has a "no return policy" on windows, doors, glass, and sashes.
  • Project time line - Window delivery - 8 weeks, Prefinish work - 2-3 weeks, Install - 2 weeks.
  • Standard Payment Terms are 50% down at time of order, 25% due upon delivery to CCC shop, and remainder due upon completion of work.
  • Pricing based on payment by check or cash. 3% will be added for payment by credit card.
  • If job cannot be completed (i.e. due to backordered items, remakes, etc) customer will be responsible for full payment for portion of job completed up to that point.
  • If acceptable, please sign and return along with 50% down payment. Thank you!
  • I confirm that my action here represents my electronic signature and is binding.

At the time I did not write him a check because I wanted to discuss the scope of the job with my wife. The windows in our house are a bit old, so it would make sense to replace them all at once, and not just the ones that sustained hail damage.

Admittedly, I don't know much about windows (or the legal ramifications of squiggling on an iPad screen). That evening, as a sanity check, I looked at Google/Yelp reviews for the window make/model and saw that almost every review had the lowest possible rating. I reached out to the guy and explained that we could not move forward with his recommendation, and I asked him to quote products that rated highly in Consumer Reports, which he did.

At that time, he had not ordered any windows from his supplier, so things weren't yet set-in-stone (even though I had stupidly squiggled on the iPad). A few hours later, we received a quote that was almost twice the previous estimate. Because of the large amount of money at stake, I decided to get a second quote. His quote was 76% more expensive than Lowes for exactly the same product. In cash terms, Lowes was $10k cheaper.

So, regardless of the squiggle on the iPad, I decided not to move forward with the exorbitant quote. When I mentioned this, he sent me an email saying:

in order to break out of the contract we think it would be fair to charge for the time we have put into all of this. Heath ran the numbers and it came to $1,000

So, he knocked on our door, pointed out some damage, met with the insurance adjuster, (over) quoted the job, and is now asking for $1,000 (as a sort of "inconvenience fee"). Even though I screwed up by squiggling on the iPad, I think this is a somewhat predatory sales practice. From my perspective, he tried to rip me off and then sent me a bill for the trouble.

From a legal perspective, is my position defensible? I did squiggle, after all.

update

I took another peek at the electronic document I squiggled on and notice that it's in my wife's name. My name doesn't appear anywhere on the document. Presumably, I do not have the authority to sign legally binding documents on my wife's behalf. I wonder if that alone would invalidate the contract.

  • "I confirm that my action here represents my electronic signature and is binding." – BlueDogRanch Nov 5 at 5:30
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    For some purchases, there's a sort of "cooling off period". And they never took a check (which is also part of the agreement). Your observation makes perfect sense, @BlueDogRanch. I wish it wasn't so. :D – Alex Woolford Nov 5 at 5:36
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    A contract is a meeting of the minds and is bounded exactly by the words covered by your seal. If the extent of the "contract" is exactly as you've pointed out above, that does not IME constitute a meeting of the minds: you have no start date, no timeline, no product specification, no warranty statement. Do not get suckered. He's relying your honor and plying your naivety with a flimsy contract. I'd thank him for his time, indicate that you cannot come to an agreement on the project specifications, and move on. If he continues to harangue, then you might consider a local lawyer. – bishop Nov 5 at 6:52
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    Some states have "cancel within XXX days" protection laws for that specific scenario. Massachusetts, for example, gives you three days to back out of a door-to-door sale, but you need to notify the other party in writing, mass.gov/guides/… I would recommend focusing your effort and questions on "how do I get out of this" instead of "what's the legality of the squiggle" – Hilmar Nov 5 at 13:57
  • @bishop none of those things are critical terms of the contract and would be implied to be reasonable, their absence doesn’t render the contract invalid. Signing something is legally evidence that you understand and agree with what you sign - a meeting of the minds. – Dale M Nov 5 at 19:11
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Like a paper signature in ink or blood, a finger squiggle is merely evidence that you have agreed to the terms of a contract. You have agreed, and now you are know the downside of that agreement. However, Colorado law gives you a special privilege to cancel certain contracts, and this may be one: here is the law. Under CO Rev Stat §5-3-402, with some exceptions,

the buyer has the right to cancel a home solicitation sale until midnight of the third business day after the day on which the buyer signs an agreement or offer to purchase that complies with this part 4.

You must give written notice to the seller at the address stated in the agreement. One exception is that you cannot cancel an agreement for an "emergency requiring immediate remedy" (there will be paperwork regarding that). A "home solicitation sale" is one that

solicits the sale and the buyer's agreement or offer to purchase is given to the seller or a person acting for the seller at a residence

which matches the facts as you describe them. Part 4 is the part that includes §5-3-401 through §5-3-405. §5-3-403 specifies the form of that agreement. One of the requirements is a

written agreement or offer to purchase that designates as the date of the transaction the date on which the buyer actually signs and contains a statement of the buyer's rights that complies with subsection (2) of this section. A copy of any writing required by this subsection (1) to be signed by the buyer, completed at least as to the date of the transaction and the name and mailing address of the seller, shall be given to the buyer at the time the buyer signs the writing.

Furthermore,

Until the seller has complied with this section, the buyer may cancel the home solicitation sale by notifying the seller in any manner and by any means of the buyer's intention to cancel;except that the buyer's right of cancellation shall expire three years after the date of the consummation of the home solicitation sale, notwithstanding the fact that the seller has not complied with this part

So it depends on when exactly this happened: you may be able to cancel.

  • That's a fantastic answer, @user6726. Thank you so much. – Alex Woolford Nov 5 at 19:50

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