Follow Consumer Ed
Begin taking control of your finances by creating a detailed budget.
Tell Us What You Think
We invite you to fill out the Consumer Ed Feedback Form
Ask Consumer Ed
Dear Consumer Ed:
My mother purchased a puppy from a pet store for $2000. She signed the store's "no refund" policy during the check-out process without reading the paperwork. But, during the sale of the dog, the sales clerk referenced several times the store’s 48-hour return policy, which says that they will offer an exchange within 48 hours. However, it was not at all clear to my mom that they did not offer refunds during this time period. My mom went back to the store within the 48-hour time period because the puppy was showing signs of illness. The store personnel directed her to speak to a third party over the phone about what steps to take next, and only after getting home did my mother learn about the store’s no refund policy. Is there any protection for consumers in this case? We have since learned that the pet store in question has a very bad reputation for selling sick animals, so offering an exchange is not a great option.
Consumer Ed says:
Your mother is in a difficult situation. While the store is certainly obligated to provide consumers with the terms of its return/exchange policies before the consumer completes the purchase, your mother was given those policies and has acknowledged receiving them.
There is no universal right to cancel purchases. A three-day right to cancel exists for only a limited number of consumer transactions. These transactions are limited to credit or cash transactions of $25 or more that were initiated through face-to face contact, e.g. door-to-door sales, away from the seller’s regular place of business that results in a written agreement. Georgia does not have any law that requires a business to provide a refund or accept returns; this means that a business may set its own return policy (including setting time limits on accepting returns), and may offer consumers cash, in-store credit, exchanges, or no adjustment at all. While a retailer isn’t generally required to post its policies, it must honor any refund or return policies it does have. From what you’ve said about your mother’s case, the store in question actually provided her with a written return/exchange policy, which she then signed (but didn’t read). Under these circumstances, it’s unlikely the store would be required to do more with regard to giving the appropriate advance notice of its return/exchange policies.
Nevertheless, your mother may still have some recourse. The papers she signed may have contained written warranties about the condition of the dog, and she should review them carefully to see what they say. However, even if there were no written warranties, there may be warranties that the law will imply in the context of a sale of goods (these warranties do apply to pets). Basically, the law implies that goods must: (i) pass without objection in the trade; and (ii) be fit for the normal and ordinary purpose for which such goods are used. It follows that a sickly dog would generally not pass “without objection”, and by selling an animal that is unhealthy, the pet store could be said to have violated this implied warranty.
To find out if your mother may have some recourse, you should consult an attorney who specializes in these matters. You can also learn more about consumers’ rights in purchasing pets by visiting the Federal Trade Commission’s website at www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/and-they-called-it-puppy-love...more>
How Scammers Trick You Into Giving Up That Security Code on the Back of Your Credit Card
Fraud alert calls may be from scammers; don't give out your security code... more>
How to Get Your Student Debt Forgiven
Student loan forgiveness programs cover many types of federal student loans. Are you eligible?.... more>
10 Biggest Misconceptions Consumers Have About Their Credit Scores
Consumers commonly misunderstand many facts about paying bills and credit cards.... more>
9 Money Mistakes We All Make In Our 20s And How To Avoid Them
Here are some of the money blunders people in their 20s make, and how to avoid them... more>
Tips & Topics
These smart moves will help you save on gas, insurance, and upkeep...
You have the education. Now it's time to start paying for it. This information may make paying back your student loans a little bit easier...
House prices are rising and bidding wars are breaking out in many markets. Here’s how to get what you want without overpaying...
How much do you really know about your credit score? How much is myth vs. fact? Take this 12-question quiz....
Are you—or your spouse or your teen or your parents—among the financially illiterate?
A little strategic research is the key to finding a trustworthy auto professional...