Some people like getting baited and switched – just like some people like studying for the bar exam – or hearing about why they should go vegan – or having a lay client try to teach them the law. I’m not one of those people.
Today, I had someone try to pull the ol’ bait and switch on me, and I’d like to give you a word of warning so you can avoid the same played-out moves.
My situation involves a company well known by lawyers and law students alike; LexisNexis.
I was contacted on my office line by a Lexis rep last Thursday afternoon. We’ll call him Shawn. I liked Shawn. He was nice, he researched my firm, he read my “about page” and he complimented my website (gets me every time).
He told me about some offerings Lexis had, including litigation guides and personal injury specific material. I wasn’t really interested but I figured it was worth hearing him out.
He then told me about LexisNexis Public Records with SmartLink. I thought it sounded especially useful for personal injury cases so I can find out information on defendant drivers, businesses, property owners, etc. Shawn told me that he could offer me EVERYTHING for only $50/month with a one-year commitment. I told him I would think about it and get back to him.
Fast forward one week: Shawn had emailed me a couple times and I finally got back with him. I said I could probably benefit some from the form books and guides, but I really wanted info about the public records search feature. We scheduled a demo for later in the afternoon. We spent over half an hour reviewing the software – and it seemed awesome. We discussed price again, and agreed once again, that I would only pay $50/month for the whole package.
Great! We had a deal. Shawn told me he would put it in a contract and get it over to me. I told him it might be awhile before I signed it because I had was heading to a very important meeting. He said, “That’s okay, you can sign it on your phone.”
20 minutes later I received his email with the contract. His message read, “please execute it and we’ll get you set up shortly.” I began reading through the 12-pages of tiny print as I sat alone in my booth at Arby’s…
Everything looked fine. Under “Committed Term” I saw my monthly installment for 2018 at $50/month… But then I read further and saw information regarding a committed term for 2019. And 2020. And 2021. And it wasn’t for $50 per month. Not even close. Shawn tried to bamboozle me into paying $334.21 per month for the next three years. WHAT?! Good thing I wasn’t reviewing the contract on my “going out phone” (Motorola Razr) or else I would have missed the TWELVE THOUSAND DOLLAR price difference.
I emailed him to let him know that we had not discussed any additional commitment and I couldn’t agree to the terms. I said if he removed those extra years, I would sign today.
He responded with “Eric, I can’t give you a promotional (oh so now it’s promotional?) rate without the back-end on the agreement. I did however provide you with a dissolution addendum that allows you to dissolve the agreement so long as you give us 30-day notice if you: (1) close your practice, (2) go work for another firm, (3) go to work for the City/County/State. The only reason you couldn’t cancel the agreement is if you are successful.”
Really Shawn? That’s how you’re gonna spin it? I told him that it was a deal breaker and he responded with this gem:
“We ensure that you are not unduly burdened with the agreement. You and I will both know within 12 months if you’re going to sink or swim with regards to running a solo practice. If you sink, there’s nothing to worry about. If you swim, well it will be because our tools have helped you run a successful practice and get off to a strong start.”
Shawn! Why didn’t you LEAD with that?! If I would have known that LexisNexis would be the key to my success, I would have given you way too much money a long time ago! Nevermind my years of business experience, my law degree, or my strong work ethic… I’ll gladly take your hand and synchronized dive with you into Scrooge McDuck’s money bin right now!
And I’m done. I hope this can give you all some insight on potential time and money wasters you may be exposed to in solo practice. If you have any similar stories, please reach out so we can vent together.
tl;dr: LexisNexis lured me in with an affordable offer and then snuck $12,000 worth of expenses into the final agreement. I avoided signing it. You should be aware of these tactics to save money and avoid wasting time.