Consumer Law

Understanding the Confusing Language of Contracts

State and federal laws are designed to ensure fairness and honesty in the marketplace. Sellers are not allowed to take unfair advantage of buyers, and buyers are not allowed to back out of a completed sale without a good reason. Each state has its own consumer protection laws that give buyers and sellers certain rights. Your rights as a consumer to return merchandise or cancel a completed transaction depend primarily on your state's consumer protection laws.

Buyers Are Not Entitled to Return Purchases

Although many retailers as a courtesy allow buyers to return merchandise for a refund, buyers do not have the automatic right to return purchases for no reason. After you've made a purchase, the law expects you to uphold your end of the deal. If you change your mind later on, the store is under no obligation to take back the merchandise. Unless the buyer can prove that the seller did something wrong, courts will typically enforce a purchase contract. Each store and business can have its own policy about returning items.

Buyers Can Cancel Certain Purchases

States give buyers a window of time to cancel certain types of purchases that are considered susceptible to abusive or high-pressure sales tactics. When you make one of these purchases, the law gives you time to change your mind and cancel the transaction. Each state has its own list of items with cancellation rights, but typical items on this list include cars, insurance policies, and credit repair services.

Promises Concerning Usability

One of the basic rules of consumer transactions is that goods must be fit for their intended purpose. If you buy a defective product, you can often return it for a refund based on the basic promise that the item will work. In addition to underlying promises that a product will work as expected, "lemon laws" protect consumers against specific types of defective merchandise. State lemon laws allow buyers to return defective automobiles specifically, while federal lemon laws cover anything mechanical.

Buyers Can Sue Sellers to Enforce Consumer Laws

Federal and state agencies enforce consumer protection laws, but buyers are also entitled to sue to recover damages based on consumer laws. Class action lawsuits based on consumer laws, for example, are a popular way to recover compensation for groups of consumers who purchased defective products. You can also take a business to small claims court to sue them as well. However, some disputes may only be handled through mediation or arbitration.

A Consumer Law Attorney Can Help

The law surrounding consumer contracts is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a consumer law attorney.

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