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Money November 2013

Dollar Sense

You Bought It, You’re Stuck With It Right? Maybe Not

By Teresa Ambord

If you buy something for $25 or more from your home, or from a business which rents a temporary space – like a booth at a fairground, convention center, gym, your workplace… wherever – you probably can get a full refund if you act quickly.

We all make impulse buys. And we all have regrets. You already know if you buy something at a brick-and-mortar store you can generally return it unused. But what about that knockoff designer purse you bought from the vendor who came to your office, showing her wares? Or the complete set of garden gnomes you bought for your spouse’s birthday, at the fairgrounds home show? Then there is the commemorative plate that is guaranteed to double in value… the one you bought on a whim after watching a sentimental infomercial at home. Can you get your money back?

 

Cooling Off

The “Cooling Off Rule” applies to certain purchases you make for which you can get a full refund if you change your mind. But you have to know which purchases.

If you buy something for $25 or more from your home, or from a business which rents a temporary space – like a booth at a fairground, convention center, gym, your workplace… wherever – you probably can get a full refund if you act quickly. You have three days, till midnight of the third day after your purchase, to get a refund, says the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The salesperson must tell you about your cancellation rights, according to the FTC. In fact, he or she must provide you with two copies of a cancellation form, plus a copy of your contract or receipt.

 

What to Do if You Decide to Cancel

If you change your mind — for any reason or no reason at all —  sign and date one copy of the cancellation form. Mail it to the address you were given and be sure to get it in the mail before the three days are up. Saturday is considered a business day, so be mindful of the time.

The FTC recommends sending it by certified mail to ensure you can prove when it was mailed and get a return receipt. You can also hand deliver the cancellation if possible.

What if you were not given a cancellation letter? Write one yourself, says the FTC. Just be sure to get it postmarked within the time limit.

Note: You do not have to give a reason for cancelling. What then?

The seller has 10 days to cancel any papers you signed for the purchase, return all your money, and instruct you how to return the merchandise. Also the seller must reimburse you within 20 days if you spend money to mail the item back. If the vendor does not abide by the Cooling Off Rules, contact the FTC, at 1-877-FTC-HELP or file a complaint online at ftccomplaintassistant.gov and click on the section called,“Getting your money back.”

 

FTC Exceptions to the Cooling Off Rule

Purchases are not covered if they are:   

  • under $25;
  • for goods or services not primarily intended for personal, family or household purposes. (The rule does apply to courses of instruction or training.);
  • made entirely by mail or telephone;
  • the result of prior negotiations at the seller's permanent business location where the goods are sold regularly;
  • needed to meet an emergency
  • made as part of your request for the seller to do repairs or maintenance on your personal
    property (purchases made beyond the maintenance or repair request are covered).

Also exempt from the Cooling-Off Rule are sales which involve:

  • real estate, insurance, or securities;
  • automobiles, vans, trucks, or other motor vehicles sold at temporary locations, provided the seller has at least one permanent place of business;
  • arts or crafts sold at fairs or locations such as shopping malls, civic centers, and schools.

 

Teresa Ambord is a former accountant and Enrolled Agent with the IRS. Now she writes full time from her home, mostly for business, and about family when the inspiration strikes.

Meet Teresa