In January JoAnne Forman asked if her small company had to refund discounts it received from a bankrupt freight carrier ("Discount Suits," [Article link]). Our answer pointed out just how entangled bankruptcy cases can become. A reader weighs in with an opinion.

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No way. If somebody hands you a discount, you look at it as if it were a reduction in price, right? That carrier offered to let you keep extra money in your pocket, so your company shouldn't be responsible for subsidizing its misfortune. Those price reductions are, exactly as stated, discounts, not IOUs to be paid upon bankruptcy.

Christine Myers

Marketing Coordinator

Export-Import Bank of the United States

New York City

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Michael Brooks, who plans to lease a building for his start-up cabaret, wondered if a personal signature is commonly required on lease agreements ("Signing Your Life Away," November 1992, [Article link]).

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You should never have to sign a personal guarantee on your lease. If your company has good credit, its financials should suffice.

If it is a young company without much history, find a space that's already built out and ready for you to move into. The landlord will not have to spend any money improving it and should require only a thorough credit check with references and the last month's rent as a security deposit. Retain a savvy real estate agent who knows the local market and the landlords who work with young businesses.

Terry Belt


CB Commercial Real Estate

McLean, Va.