Consumer Law

Consumer Law Consumer Purchases FAQ

Q: Can I cancel a purchase I made from a door-to-door salesperson?

  • A:Possibly. State and federal laws apply to purchases made in your home:
    • State and federal laws may give you the right to cancel purchases of $25 or more made in your home
    • The salesperson must tell you about your right to cancel the sale and give you two dated copies of a cancellation form showing the salesperson's name and address and explaining your right to cancel
    • To cancel, sign and date one of the cancellation notices provided to you. Send the notice by certified mail before midnight of the 3rd business day following the sale (Saturday is considered a business day but Sunday and legally recognized holidays are not). Keep the other notice of cancellation for your records.
    • If you weren't provided with a notice of cancellation form at the time of the sale, your three days don't start running until after you receive notice from the seller. You may also write your own letter to cancel the order.
  • Once you've canceled, you're entitled to a refund within 10 days. The seller must also notify you of the date for product pick up, and return any trade-ins given as down payment.
  • Once you've canceled, the seller must pick up the product within 20 days. If the seller doesn't pick up the product or provide a refund, you can keep the product until the seller complies, without any payment obligation.
  • If you paid by credit card, canceled the contract within 3 days, have not yet paid the credit card bill and still have a problem getting a refund, you can dispute the charges with your credit card company

    You can't cancel the sale if:

  • You signed any documents waiving your right to cancel.
  • You wait too long
  • The product can't be returned in substantially the same condition in which you received it

Q: Do online merchants have to provide the warranty so I can review it before I buy?

  • A:You have the right to review a warranty before you purchase a product. For warranty information online, look for hyperlinks leading to the full warranty, or an address where you can obtain a free copy. Reading the warranty before you buy can help you understand exactly what protection you'll get should something go wrong later. If a copy of the warranty is available online, print it out when you make your purchase and keep it with your records.

Q: How do I know an Internet site is secure for purchases?

  • A:Look for any of the following items which note a secure site:

    • A notice pops up on the screen alerting you to that fact
    • You see a closed lock or unbroken key in the bottom corner of your screen
    • The first letters of the Internet address of the page you are viewing change to "https".

Q: Is it safe to provide my credit card over the Internet for a purchase?

  • A:The chances that your credit card will be misused are very remote, particularly if you give your number to the merchant in a secure manner. Most merchants use secure web sites, where your personal information is encrypted or scrambled, so that it can't be easily intercepted. Do not send your credit card number by email as opposed to a secure order form. Emails are not secure.

Q: I've ordered items they haven't arrived, and it's been two months. Can I walk away from the order now?

  • A:When you order something by mail, phone, fax or computer, the Federal Trade Commission Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Trade Regulation Rule requires the company to:

    • Ship the merchandise within the time promised or, if no specific delivery time was stated, within 30 days of receiving your order
    • Notify you if the shipment can't be made on time and give you the choice of waiting longer or getting a refund; and
    • Cancel your order and return your payment (or credit your account if you charged the purchase) if the new shipping date can't be met, unless you agree to another delay

    If you applied for a charge account with the merchant at the same time you placed your order, the company has an extra (additional) 20 days (for a total of 50 days) to ship the merchandise to allow time for processing your application.

    The rule only applies to the first shipment of magazine subscriptions and other merchandise that comes repeatedly. And it doesn't cover:

    • Orders for services (for example, photo finishing)
    • Sales of seeds and growing plants
    • Collect-on-delivery (C.O.D.) orders
    • Transactions that are covered by the FTC Negative Option Rule, such as book and music clubs

Q: My phone bill arrived with a huge charge to an international long-distance phone number. I say I didn't make the call, the phone company says I did through an Internet dial-up. What can I do?

  • A:If you've surfed the web and come across possibly an adult entertainment, gaming, gambling or psychic site that claimed to offer content for "free" and doesn't require a credit card number for access, but you do have to download a free "viewer" or "dialer" for the free content, you may have been scammed.

    Information and entertainment services, both on- and off-line, can get around pay-per-call rules established by the federal Telephone Disclosure and Dispute Resolution Act by using foreign phone numbers. If you find unauthorized charges on your phone bill, check with your phone company to see if they might reverse the charges, and file a complaint with the FTC. In the meantime, protect yourself when surfing:


    • Be skeptical when you see opportunities to view "free" content on the web. Free doesn't always mean free.
    • Clicking "OK" isn't always okay. Don't click OK unless you know exactly what you're agreeing to. Read online disclosures carefully. They may be buried several clicks away in pages of small print. In addition, read the language in the gray boxes on your screen.
    • Beware of any program that enables your modem to re-dial to the Internet. If you see a dialog box on your computer indicating that it's dialing when you didn't direct it to, cancel the connection and hang up. Check the number you're dialing and continue only if it's a local call.
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