WSVN —  If you are self employed, you might sign a contract when you do a job. But what if it’s a simple contract and both sides say it says two totally different things? That’s when you call Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Rick Riley: "Good morning, this is Rick Riley WRBQ."

Rick Riley got his start in the radio business…

Rick Riley: "Probably the best days in the business because I was new. I was young and I’m working in radio."

That was then… this is now, where Rick is an independent contractor doing marketing and public relations and that’s not bad either.

Rick Riley: "I work from home. I do my sales meetings in my PJs."

Last fall he picked up a new client, an organization that helps foster kids…

Rick Riley: "It’s a non-profit. I was happy because when I saw their work and the people that they affected, I felt good about it!"

Rick’s job was to promote the non-profit and help them with their fundraising for the kids. They signed a contract to pay Rick $1,300 a month for the next three months.

Rick Riley: "In the scheme of things, the money was nothing in terms of some of my former contracts, but it was a labor of love."

In October and November, Rick worked for them and they paid him. Then before the third month began…

Rick Riley: "The founder and CEO asked me about renegotiating my contract. I said, ‘Fine no problem.’"

But the negotiations broke down. Rick says they then stopped working with him in the third month and refused to pay him for that third month. When he complained, their attorney sent him a letter.

Rick Riley: "Based on the argument from their attorney, they indicated I didn’t do any work for December but if you breach of my contract, how can I perform my goods and services if you do not allow me to do my work?"

It’s a simple contract– a single page with five sentences. Rick says it says they have to pay him. The non-profit reads it and says it shows they don’t have to pay him.

Rick Riley: "And they both are pastors so I hope they do the Christian thing. They say they are both Christians."

Well Howard, contracts are written in plain English but two sides can read it and think it says two different things. Wanna weigh in?

Howard Finkelstein: "They may disagree but to me, this a simple and clear contract where Rick works and gets paid for three months. There is nothing in the document that allows either party to terminate it early. So they have to pay Rick for the third month even if they don’t let him do the work."

The attorney for the non-profit said they didn’t have to pay Rick for the last month because he misled them when he said he had a corporation. He does, but it’s listed as inactive with the state because he hasn’t renewed it. Then the attorney told us rather than have to pay to fight a legal battle, the non-profit decided to pay Rick the $1,300.

Howard Finkelstein: "No matter what contract you sign, keep it like the one Rick and the non-profit had– keep it simple. And to protect everyone, put a clause in that either party can terminate the contract within an agreed time frame like two weeks or 30 days. And I have said it before, if you don’t like the contract or it doesn’t have something you want, don’t sign it."

Rick Riley: "I have reincorporated under a new name. I’m rebranding"

Rick has his corporate name cleared up, and his money in his pocket.

Rick Riley: "Yes, the Help Me Howard team came through."

When you sign a contract, whether it’s to do public relations for a company or to buy a car from a dealer, remember the contract usually favors the person who drew it up. So make sure you read it carefully and like Howard says it, you don’t like it or don’t understand something– don’t sign it. Rick did and it worked out for him.

Contracted a problem you want to break away from? You don’t need public relations, you need people to rely on, so contact us and hopefully you will profit. With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser 7News.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN
On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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