When the service you need gets switched from one provider to another

Occasionally, I will get a call from someone who has purchased a service from one provider and is then told that another provider has taken over the contract.  Might be a pool service, or a security system provider, or a marketer, or a lawyer.  I don’t get more calls because a lot of people don’t care.  But the ones who call are the ones who do care. 

They usually want to know how to get away from the new provider.  Maybe the new provider does not have a great record.  Maybe the new provider starts deemphasizing or taking away aspects of the service that the customer liked. 

My answer usually contains three parts . . .

First, what does the contract say about “assignment” from one provider to another?  If it says nothing, you can just leave.  If it gives the provider the right to assign his interests, you are stuck. .

Second, . . . unless the new provider breaches the contract in some way.  Those services the new provider is cutting back on?  Check the contract.  If those services are provided for in the contract, refusing to provide them constitutes a breach, and the customer can walk away.

Third, do not sign a contract in the first place without first at least skimming that fine print to see if there is an assignment section giving the provider the right to assign the contract. 

And, of course, I will always recommend that you spend the few dollars needed to get a consultation with a lawyer who does contract litigation, because every situation is different, and sometimes the difference matters.

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