Implementing a uniform rental program can be an extremely beneficial service for businesses and their employees. While most have great experiences using rental programs, some uniform vendors’ contracts may have hidden costs—if you miss reading these, you could end up stuck in a contract that’s not worth what you originally agreed upon. Uniform rental contracts are typically long term programs ranging in increments of 3, 5, and 7 years, so if you agree to a contract’s terms, you should know exactly what you’re signing up for. Unsure of what you should be aware of when reviewing your uniform rental contract? Here’s a list of the terms and conditions you should know about before signing a rental agreement:
1. Automatic Renewal and Cancellation
When signing into a uniform agreement, one of the first things you should note is the length of contract and its terms for automatic renewal. Almost all uniform programs renew automatically at the end of the agreed contract. The main concern here is the amount of time businesses have to cancel their contracts. It’s not uncommon for contracts to require up to 6 months advance notice for a cancellation with no charge.
2. Guaranteed Rates or Unlimited Price Increases
Make sure you understand the terms of rate increases. It’s common practice for contracts to include some leeway for uniform providers to increase prices by a capped percentage amount to account for economic fluctuation within the market. Some uniform vendors, however, may not include a cap on the percentage of increase or the amount of times they are able to increase it. Signing a contract like this could be like signing a blank check, so it’s a good idea to be aware of what rates your contract guarantees.
3. Cost to Add New Employees
A common additional fee to rental programs is the cost to add new employees. Depending on the contract, fees can include the initial setup, additional fees per garment, or oversize charges (XXL and up). Some contracts will guarantee flat rates for a set amount of garments and no extra charges for larger sizes. Contracts also often include a garment size exchange fee. While some uniform contracts charge a small fee to change garments for different sizes, others allow employees a limited amount of exchanges for free.
4. Lost and Damaged Garments
Depending on the provider, contracts put varying amounts of liability on businesses for damaged and lost uniforms. Be aware of your contract’s terms regarding how the uniform provider will handle lost and damaged garments and the charges that follow. Some providers charge full retail price for garment replacements and repairs while others may account for the age of the uniform and the bulk discount prices they receive when ordering. You should also be aware of how your provider plans to alert you of any fees regarding lost and damaged garments.
5. Wastewater and Special Energy Fees
If part of your contract includes uniform cleaning services, depending on the provider, you may have to pay wastewater and energy fees. Be sure to double check to see if your provider passes these fees down to you. While subscribing to cleaning services, you may also incur under-wash fees. This refers to employees who don’t turn in their uniforms to be cleaned on time. Depending on your contract, you may be required to wash your uniforms with your provider and may be charged a fee for employees who forget to turn in their uniforms.
6. Breaking a Contract
Be aware of your responsibilities and the consequences of breaking a contract, not only on your end, but the provider’s as well. If you are having issues with your uniform provider, you should always try to contact them first and document all of your issues. Unless your provider has broken the contract on their end, it will cost your company the remaining balance of the agreed upon contract—however, a good uniform provider will work with you to right any complaints to continue your service.
Reviewing Your Rental Contract Agreement
Now that you are aware of the important terms and conditions uniform contracts may include, be sure to compare and ask questions. Thoroughly reading and understanding your contract is important, especially to avoid complications and the need to break it. If you are having issues or need help better understanding a contract, a quality uniform provider will be willing to help find the right contract for your business and help clarify any agreements you may be unsure about.