Doggy daycare refuses to issue refund

August 22, 2013 20:28 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed:

We purchased a block of 30 visits to a doggy daycare.  Tragically, our puppy had to be put down shortly after.  The owner of the doggy daycare refused to refund the balance (several hundred dollars) citing a no refunds policy. I have no other pets, am I just out the money?  

Consumer Ed says: 

Georgia law doesn’t require businesses to provide a refund or accept returns or exchanges, which means they can set their own return/refund policies.  These policies may offer consumers a cash refund, store credit, or exchange, or they may prohibit returns of any kind.  Except in very limited circumstances, the law generally does not guarantee you the right to a refund or a three-day cancellation.
 
Even so, there are a few circumstances under which you might be entitled to a refund.  Stores must honor the terms of their return policies.  So if a business has a return policy that provides for refunds, and if you abided by the terms of that policy, then the store is obligated to issue you a refund.

Alternatively, if the doggie daycare received the benefit of your money without having to provide the services for which you paid, you may have a claim for unjust enrichment (which is another way of saying that the daycare unfairly profited at your expense).  You should seek legal advice about your individual situation; if you can’t afford your own lawyer, contact your local legal aid office or consider using your local magistrate court.

If you believe that the daycare didn’t adequately disclose the terms and conditions of its refund policies, or that those policies were otherwise unfair or deceptive, you can file a complaint with the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection at www.consumer.georgia.gov or by calling 1-800-869-1123.  You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by visiting ftc.gov or calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

The best way to protect yourself in future transactions of this kind is to inquire into a company’s refund policies prior to making a purchase, and to ask for those policies in writing.

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Credit Card Surcharges

May 28, 2013 17:36 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed:

How much of a surcharge are merchants allowed to charge you for paying with a credit card?

ConsumerEd says:

Surcharges for credit card payments became legal in January of 2013 following a class-action settlement between merchants, Visa, MasterCard, and a number of major banks.  Now, merchants may charge from 2-4% (but not more) of the underlying credit card purchase if you make your purchase using either a Visa or MasterCard credit card.  This surcharge is meant to cover the cost that merchants pay to the credit card companies in order to have the ability to process payments made with those credit cards.

However, merchants who add this fee onto their customers’ bills must post a sign in their front window notifying them of this.  Additionally, the merchants must disclose the exact amount of the surcharge at the point of sale and on their receipts.  A caution:  For online purchases, merchants are only required to disclose this surcharge on the first page where the potential customer is prompted to enter in his/her credit card information.

These surcharges may only be imposed on Visa and MasterCard purchases; such fees may not (at least not yet) be assessed for an American Express or Discover Card purchase.  Finally, a merchant can never impose a surcharge for a purchase made on a debit card.

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Retailer offering store credit only for defective mattress

March 21, 2013 20:26 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed:

We bought a mattress and within days there was a deep sag in the middle.  The store replaced it, but we had the same problem immediately.  They took the mattress back and will give us a store credit they say has to be used by the end of the year.  We don’t want another mattress from this store; we want our money back.  Can we make them give it back?

Consumer Ed says: 

Georgia law does not require businesses to provide a refund or accept returns or exchanges.  This means that businesses can set their own return/refund policies.   These policies may offer consumers a cash refund, store credit, or exchange, or they may prohibit returns of any kind. Except in very limited circumstances, the law generally does not guarantee you the right to a refund or a three-day cancellation.

There are a few circumstances under which you might be entitled to a refund.  First, while stores are not required to post their return policies, they must honor the terms of any posted policy.  If the store posted a return policy that provides for cash refunds, and if you abided by the terms of the policy, then a store credit is not an acceptable resolution—this would be an unfair trade practice.  Another circumstance would be if the retailer significantly misrepresented the quality of the mattress, and that representation was one of the main reasons you decided to purchase it.  Deceptive advertising, along with unfair trade practices, are violations of the Fair Business Practices Act (FBPA).  If you believe that this retailer has violated the FBPA, you should file a complaint with the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection by calling 404-651-8600 or visiting www.consumer.ga.gov.

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