The convenience of making a purchase without ever leaving your home is sometimes offset by remorse. Have you ever been pressured into buying something from a door-to-door salesperson that you would not normally buy, or at a price you might not have paid with a chance to comparison-shop first?
Federal law (16 C.F.R. 429) governs sales that take place in your home. Know your rights in this situation:
- For most products or services that you buy, rent or lease at home for $25 or more, you have the right to cancel a written contract within three business days after signing it. Exceptions to this rule include real estate, insurance and securities. Motor vehicles sold at tent sales, auctions or other temporary place of business are also exempt (provided the vendor is a seller of vehicles with a permanent place of business), as well as sellers of arts or crafts at fairs.
- At the time of your purchase, the seller must tell you of your right to cancel the contract or sale.
A contract signed at your home must include the following:
A “Notice of Cancellation” with all the blanks filled in;
The seller’s address;
The terms of payment clearly stated; and
The correct date of sale.
If these items are not in the contract or you don’t understand all of the terms, don’t sign! Always read the entire contract before you sign it. If you have any questions, be sure to ask. If you end up signing a contract, but decide to cancel it within three business days:
- Return the cancellation form that came with the signed contract by certified mail with a return receipt card. This is your proof that you canceled within three business days.
- Be sure that you make the item available to the merchant and follow any directions you are given for returning it. If the seller wants to pick up the merchandise from you, it must be within 20 days of receiving your cancellation notice. If you are to mail it back, the seller is required to reimburse you for the shipping costs.
- The seller must refund all of your money within ten business days after you cancel.
Do not be rushed into making a decision by high-pressure sales tactics, and remember that sellers who engage in unfair or deceptive business practices are in violation of the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act. If you believe a salesperson has tried to mislead you or has violated the “cooling-off period” provisions of the law, please contact the Georgia Department of Law's Consumer Protection Unit and file a complaint.
You may also report a problem with cancellation of a contract to the Federal Trade Commission, which generally will not prosecute in your individual situation but may use the information in the event of a larger investigation.
When a solicitor knocks at your door…
- Remember that you don’t have to let the seller into your home. Exercise caution any time a stranger comes to your door.
- Ask yourself if you really want or need the item being sold, and whether you can afford it.
- Ask to see some form of personal identification, as well as a business card with the telephone number and address of the business.
- Post a “No Soliciting” sign on your property if you want to discourage sellers from disturbing you, although it is not against the law for someone to approach your home when such a sign is displayed.