A contract has been created when: an offer has been made; the offer has been accepted; and consideration has been exchanged. In American society, we make contracts all the time. A contract need not be a formal written document. A contract can entail something as little as purchasing an item at a store.
Whenever we need to make a phone call, most of us reach for our cell phones. If a person has a cell phone, that person likely has a cell phone plan. A cell phone plan or contract is usually called a “Terms of Service Agreement” or “Terms and Conditions of Service.” The cell phone company offered the terms of its cell phone service to the consumer, and the consumer accepted the terms. Once the consumer paid for the company’s services, and the company provided its services to the consumer, the contract became legally binding. The services and payment were the consideration for the contract. If the consumer does not hold up his end of the bargain by paying for the services offered, the services could be cut off. The consumer could also be slapped with monetary penalties.
A mortgage is a contract that many people will enter at some time in their lives. With a mortgage, a bank allows the home buyer to assume ownership of the home under a set of rates and terms provided by the bank. The home buyer borrows money with which to pay for the house, and the mortgage lender receives a lien on the house. The lien and the money are the consideration for the contract. In the case that the home buyer defaults on the loan, the mortgage lender can take the house. The mortgage lender may sell the house to recoup some of the money lent to the home buyer.
In the Internet age, many people create contracts over the Internet. If a person bids on an item on the Internet auction website, ebay, she offers a price to the seller. When the buyer wins the auction, her offer has been accepted by the seller. Usually, the buyer has to send payment to the seller before the seller will ship the item that was won in the auction. When payment has been made to the seller, the seller is legally bound by the contract. If the seller fails to ship the item to the buyer, the seller can be held liable for breaching the terms of the contract. The seller will probably receive a negative seller rating, as well.