Business

Why Net Friends Relies on “Natural Language” Contracts

Post by
Net Friends

When was the last time you read a contract all the way through? Was it when you signed a lease on an apartment? When you started a new job? In fact, you encounter contracts every week – but you don’t recognize them as contracts.

When you text an electrician to ask about fixing a faulty outlet, and they text back “can be there tmrw, $89 to diagnose,” and you text back “OK,” that’s a contract! You also likely make “verbal contracts” with service personnel, contractors, even friends where the contract is never written down at all.

What makes these contracts not feel like “real contracts”? The fact that they’re easily understood. Each party’s duties, and range of discretion, are clear. These informal contracts are free of jargon, short, and to the point. It’s said that there are two kinds of contracts: the kind you understand, but don’t sign, and the kind you sign, but don’t understand. Net Friends is looking to change that.

As part of a growing movement of businesses that rely solely on “natural language” or “plain English” contracts, we believe contracts should be understood by the people who sign them and the people who carry out the duties described in them.

All the text in our service agreements and statements of work is drafted in-house by staff who are familiar with the service being provided – not by lawyers. (We do run it by the lawyers as a final step.) We adhere to the clear-meaning standards defined in “A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting,” published by the American Bar Association.

The result is that Net Friends contracts are easy for customers and account managers to review on their own. If a customer has a question about a certain provision, the account manager can usually answer directly and promptly, without needing to consult a legal department. Everyone involved in executing the contract can understand key details about services, payment, schedules, and exclusions simply by looking at it themselves. We’ve found that this approach saves significantly on costs and reduces the time needed to conclude sales.

Unlike many service providers, we encourage all our customers to review our contracts and statements of work in detail, and to reach out to us if any provisions are confusing. We treat these questions like software bug reports, often making permanent changes to contract wording based on customer feedback. After many years of this process, we believe our contracts have been “tested” quite well – not in a court, but in the marketplace.

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