Actually, I do not assume that a well known name is a reputable breeder. What I was doing was contacting breeders, both big names and small, to check into them further. Like I said, I asked a multitude of questions, about their plans for breeding (who, what and why), health & longevity, temperment, what they are trying to accomplish with their breeding programs, and more.While $3500 is on the high side, I do know puppies who have sold for that much who were worth every penny..I'd have to see the puppy and the pedigree before I decided if it was totally out there or not. Conversely, I know of puppies that sold for a whole lot less who were worth a whole lot more.
I think you're making the mistake of thinking just because someone shows their dogs and might have a well known name means they're a reputable breeder, and that's not always the case. It *should* be the case, but it isn't.
But you also could be jumping to conclusions that there is no contract-could be they don't get into that until later in the process, once you pass their screening and are approved for a puppy.
I can tell you in *some* cases there are major instances of breeders trying to capitalize on the naivete of the novice, coming up with terms that no one with any experience would ever consider. When I've heard about this, it usually seems to be trying to sell puppy bitches on breeder terms, wanting entire litters (plural) back in addition to a high purchase price. While giving one or maybe even sometimes two pick puppies back isn't unusual, it's outrageous to expect someone to give back entire litters. That kind of agreement is heavily weighted on the side of the seller, and should be avoided.
It would be logical that one would not go into the details of a contract until they passed screening. However, I would expect some kind of mention of it at the beginning, rather than just outlining how much to pay and when/where to send the deposit.