Is a voice-recorded verbal agreement legally binding?

Asked about 5 years ago - Beloit, WI

I agreed to something over the phone that I wasn't really paying attention to, gave my check card number, and didn't realize the full extent of what I was paying for (a magazine subscription that, instead of going month by month as I originally thought, was only payable in 20 month increments, which was much more than I wanted). Can that magazine company legally force me to pay for 20 months?

Additional information

Can I not cancel a subscription at any time?

Attorney answers (1)

  1. Ronald Lee Burdge

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . Maybe, but probably not if they tricked you into a 20 month agreement. In most states an oral contract is just as valid as a written contract in most circumstances; it is just harder to prove what the agreed-upon terms were if there is a disagreement. If one side cancels the contract, then the other side has the right to collect any money that was agreed would be paid in the event of a cancellation. If nothing was written down, or recorded, on what the agreement was, then it will be very hard for either side to prove what terms were agreed upon. When a substantial amount of money is involved (often $500 or more), many states require the contract to be in writing or it is not enforceable at all (this is called the “statute of frauds” by many lawyers) unless the “innocent” side has partly performed their end of the bargain and then they might be able to recover the value of what they had done before learning of the other side cancelling the contract. But every state has a “Udap” law that makes it illegal for a merchant to do anything that is deceptive (and sometimes “unfair” is also illegal) to a consumer and that law may give the consumer additional legal rights regardless of whether or not a contract exists. In a consumer transaction or other special circumstances, you may even have the right to recover more than that and maybe even make them pay your attorney fees too. Also, in many states it is legal for one side of a phone conversation to record the conversation without telling the other side and it can be used against you in court. You can find out your tape recording rights at this web site: http://www.rcfp.org/taping/states.html. But the law is different from state to state. You need to talk to a local attorney who deals with this kind of case. Call your local attorney's Bar Association and ask for a referral to an attorney near you. But act quickly because for every legal right you have, there is only a limited amount of time to actually file a lawsuit in court or your rights expire (it's called the statute of limitations), so don't waste your time finding out what your rights are. If this answer was helpful, please check the box below.

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