KEN KIRSCHENBAUM, ESQ
ALARM - SECURITY INDUSTRY LEGAL EMAIL NEWSLETTER / THE ALARM EXCHANGE
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commencement date and other contract issues
May 7, 2018
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commencement date and other contract issues
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Ken
    With all your articles on contracts you have failed to address a very important issue that everyone has who uses them faces.  To begin with, in the start of the agreements you have to put a date in.   When executed by the firm/alarm company you put another date and the customer does as well with another date if executed by mail.   Now there are three dates on the agreement.   The job starts at some date that can be either days or months later depending on the type of job, such as a fire alarm system that the plans have to be filed and approved before work can start.   After the inspection weeks or months later the central station monitoring starts.   The agreement period is for some set of time for example either five or ten years.   So the official start of the monitoring can be months later.   That now means that the monitoring period will exceed beyond the official contract period as stated in the agreement based upon the dated entered in the beginning of the agreement.   It can start six months after signing and finishes six months after the expiration date.   You would not bill the customer until the monitoring actually starts.   Your exposure also extending beyond the agreement term as well.  
    It is now time to recognize this problem and change the wording on the agreements to adjust for this situation and bring it in line with the real world, correct?   What I believe needs to be added or changed on the agreement, is that that agreement period/years is aligned with the first bill monitoring start date of service for service period once it official starts or some other wording to accomplish that intent here.   It is not unusual to have an executed agreement that will not start for some time and the current wording does not conform in these cases.
    You (Ken) can now reply and state a good or bad comments or a defense of this suggestion (keeping an open mind here for a change maybe but not likely) and others as well that I am sure will too.
    This situation and question has some real value instead of the many real dumb questions you have recently posted like that one about selectively covering employees with workman compensation, failure to increase customers’ bills for monitoring services plus a lot of others from people that should be employees and not employers.
    Yours truly,
A RichAndKindMan
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Response
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    Your comments and suggestions lead me to believe you may not actually be rich or kind.  However, you raise several points:

    From your question I conclude that you don't have the Standard Form Agreements.  That's your first mistake.  Your second mistake is making assumptions about what's in the contract and how it works.
    The Standard Form Contracts [the All in One agreements are the recommended forms] all have a date at the top of the agreement.  There are no other dates to be inserted in the form.  
    The printed form clearly states that the RMR items are to be billed commencing on the first day of the month following execution of the agreement.  Why?  Because too many subscribers have refused to permit installation.  If the contract provides that the contract commences upon installation we are faced with the argument that the contract never commenced.  We then have to overcome that hurtle before getting to the next one, enforcing the term of the agreement when the installation was never made and the services are obviously not going to be provided.  My contracts were changed a long time ago to address this issue.
    So what should you do if there is going to be an inordinate delay in installation, which is frequently the case in commercial fire alarm installations.  You can simply provide that you will waive the RMR for a specific period of time, or you can provide that the RMR will commence upon installation and proper test signal.  Yes, that will mean you now face the problem regarding installation, but at least it will be the exception to the rule rather than being in your form agreement where it will apply to every subscriber.  The Standard Form Agreement , by the way, also deals with delayed installation and price increases.
    No matter when the RMR items start getting billed and charged, the RMR term will not outlast the contract term.  They are the same, always.  As long as the service is provided the contract will cover the service.  That is why the contract automatically renews month to month.
    As monotonous and mundane you find the constant conversation about contracts - and the pitch to keep the contracts current - you would be surprised to hear all the questions I field daily.  Some questions are more routine than others, and often a question will lead to a modification of the contract to make it clearer and more easily understood.  And, every once in a while I get a suggestion for a change that's a great idea - in fact I think you've made a few - so thanks for those and thanks for your continued interest and support.
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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301
ken@kirschenbaumesq.com
516 747 6700
www.KirschenbaumEsq.com