Consumer Law

Consumer law has been designed by the government to protect the consumers. In other words the consumer law or rights that exist protect consumer’s safety and public health. You will find that the consumer organizations have been formed to help consumers make better choices in the products they buy. Let’s look at a recent example for a moment. With trade in China many toys have come in with lead paint. This concerns the consumers as lead paint has been found to be detrimental to health. In the US regulations against the use of lead paint have been created. So for consumer law in the United States that importation of lead based products goes against the consumer laws of safety and public health. The items have of course been recalled based on the consumer law.

There are other areas where consumer law has been designed to save the consumer as well. You will find public law that regulates private law for consumers and businesses that sell goods and services. You will also find product liability, privacy rights, unfair business practices, fraud, misrepresentation, advertising law, and laws that deal with debt or credit repair are also in place for the consumer.

Some of the laws we have based on consumer law in the United States include Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Truth in Lending Act, and many more. Each state can also have certain consumer laws. California has the department of consumer affairs that regulates professionals and professions in the state. This means that under consumer law people and businesses are required to be fair in all consumer based companies.

The National Consumer Law Center is a nonprofit organization in the United States that regulates the countries consumer law. You will find they offer legal services, government and private attorneys, and community organization. When you seek the National Consumer Law Center you are asking for help with a consumer law. In most cases they are going to represent the injured party. The attorneys will have to take the information provided and determine if there is enough evidence for a case.

Consumer law, which is based on protecting the citizens or consumers of the nation are very important, especially when you consider technology. You will find consumer law in advertising has changed dramatically we are no longer seeing a truth in advertising, but a skirting of the truth. In order to protect a consumer against the false advertising or partially misconstrued advertising lawyers and laws have to exist.

If you are looking for a consumer law lawyer you may find the National Consumer Law Center is one place to start looking. You can also find names through referrals or checking the better business bureau online. These places will help you to find the person that is most qualified to help with your type of consumer law case. Keep in mind that a consumer law case must find unsafe products or health conditions to be considered under the consumer law title.

Jim Power is writer for the legal website abouth Consumer Law more information can be found at http://www.lawyermemo.com

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Consumer Protection Laws on Distance Trading Rights

Many consumers in distance trading suffer financial loss or delays in mail order or online shopping -the consumer protection legislation and Distance Trading Regulations, in basic lay terms, are as follows…

In distant trading mail order companies (including in internet shopping or online shopping) in law do not have to tell you your rights -the entitlement to details exists only if you know your rights and ask ~but it is unlawful also in distance trading for mail order traders expressly or by implication (including orally) to mislead you or to seek to restrict the exercise of your rights in consumer laws.

Whether you have ordered goods from a catalogue, newspaper or magazine, television or internet advertisement, be they on approval or not, goods such as a jackets or dress or shoes, music CDs, video cassettes, DVDs or books, whether a one off purchase or periodically by club membership, paid for by cash or on credit, by debit or credit card, in full or in part, there are some consumer rights not commonly known under various consumer laws and mail order schemes which sometimes can save you time, effort, money.

For example, mail order companies must service serviceable goods they sell, and your credit card company also may be liable.

Catalogues usually subscribe to a mail order traders’ association whose logo they display, and there are expectations from them…

1. They must provide accurate information about such details as material used, colour, and size, of the goods they advertise, as well as regarding installation and anything that may restrict their use ~they must state any restriction on availability or delivery -as well as all charges involved, including any extra delivery charges.

2. You must be able within a stated period of time, usually two weeks, to return unwanted goods -if faulty or substitute goods (which must be on approval) post paid by them ~and if goods may require servicing you must be given fullest details if you ask.

3. You must be told how to complain should the occasion arise and speedily must be dealt with complaints and sympathetically.

Book or Music Clubs mostly subscribe to a mail order publishers association whose symbol they display and who must investigate complaints in case of failure in the following respects.

1. The main terms of any offer advertised must be stated clearly -must be accurate the details of quality, quantity, price, postage ~they must not be sent you unsolicited without an order (they must be returnable at seller’s expense if on approval); if you sent money it must be acknowledged with despatch date and any delay explained.

2. If you buy regularly you need not give a reason if you wish to cancel after a year, or if price increases exceed the expectation ~if debt collecting they must ensure not to unreasonably bother you.

Mail Order items advertised in a medium with a ‘protection scheme’ unless ‘classified’ are protected by advertising practice codes too ~the law requires advertisement to be ‘legal, decent, honest, truthful’ -‘washes whiter than white’ is an obvious slogan and fine.

Internet or online shopping is equally covered in the Distance Trading Regulations –whether deliver is by mail or courier.

1. You have the right without giving a reason to inform the seller within seven working days (the day of receipt not counting) that you wish to return the goods. You do not have to actually return them within the cooling off period, e.g., if the seller takes his time to issue a return number. Such a cancellation, in law, is for the whole of the package, unless the seller agrees or can be shown by custom and practice to accept return of individual items -e.g., if its RMA request form asks without more for items wanted to be returned to be marked. If you choose to do so, you must return the goods undamaged. If you have paid money, you are entitled to a full refund within thirty days which must be in ‘cash’ -not as credit-note, nor voucher (this is an implied statutory term -a term or condition that makes this the seller’s option is void).

In consumer protection laws and Distance Trading Regulations this is so also if goods are faulty or misleadingly described or not fit for the purpose that the seller was told of or enquired from (including orally –e.g., by telephone) or knew or could reasonably be expected to know –in this case you are entitled also to any return costs (e.g., postage). You are entitled to a refund also if the sale was not fair in the circumstances.

The seller’s discretion to replace or repair is normally exercisable if, e.g., the defect has been discovered after a long time of use, e.g., six months. Reference in law is to ‘goods’ as distinct from their wrapping or packaging -not that they must not have been opened or used; but they must be returned in good condition in reason in the applicable circumstance.

(Any seals that the seller may lawfully ask to be agreed not be broken are only such as may be on the goods themselves and of a kind that would not restrict your legal right to try the goods, e.g., to decide whether you like and wish to keep them -except if the item sealed is “computer software or driver disk” [although it is difficult to see how, e.g., a printer or scanner can be tried without the use of its driver disk to see if one likes and wants to be keep or not within the cooling-off period]).

These legal obligations are of the sellers, directly to the customers, and are not affected by any liability on the part of the manufacturer, and any terms or conditions that exclude or restrict consumer rights given by law, e.g., that the customer must contact the manufacturer instead, even if agreed to, are void in law.

Sometimes are involved return or authorisation number request procedures for administrative purposes of the seller -sellers may not, e.g., by refusing to issue an RMA, lawfully refuse receipt of returned goods.

If in relation to returning goods within the seven-day cooling off period the customer mentions a reason [whether asked or not], e.g. that they are faulty or not fit for the purpose, that does not affect the customer’s right to return them within seven days of receipt, and does not entitle the seller to treat such a reasons to, e.g., insist to repair or replace them under any other terms and conditions.

If goods are returned as faulty and the customer states that the return is for refund, any authorisation bars the seller from exercising any otherwise exercisable discretion. Any such ‘returns policy’ of the seller that, e.g., faulty goods or liability (including for injury or damage resulting from faulty goods) will not be accepted (or that will not be accepted unless made, e.g., within fourteen days of purchase), has no validity in law and any, e.g., internet return-forms that do not open may be tantamount to attempt to unlawfully seek to limit liability or the exercise of the consumer’s rights -as well as absence of ‘good-will’ on the part of the seller and in it’s own right make the contract void and be ‘unfair trading’.

If you are under age, the seller sells you totally at his own risk, because no contract entered into with a party who is under age is binding, and you may not be held to any terms and conditions in case of any dissatisfaction.

2. If you have paid money for goods to be despatched at the seller’s convenience but have not received the goods within thirty days (unless made-to-measure goods or plants or you have agreed to wait longer -when a despatch date must be quoted) you are entitled to a refund -the medium that advertised it must find out if the advertiser has folded and try to get it for you if you claim with full details in reasonable time (normally within two months of ordering from a magazine or three months of the date of a newspaper advertisement -also your credit-card company may help if you paid by credit-card).

Trading Standards, Office of Fair Trading may be complained to -they do not disclose your identity without your consent. If on evidence they have a good reason to prosecute the seller, upon conviction you may claim compensation -including for unnecessarily caused expenses, e.g., postage, travel, correspondence, telephone calls. (But a word of caution: they rarely prosecute at the absence of many complaints or the seller’s not agreeing to amend its trading practices –and (while on the face of it perhaps similar to a police officer’s ignoring a burglary on that ground) not only if a complaint is frivolous but also if it is considered vexatious may they not prosecute.) Your money claim must still be in the County Court or the Small Claims Court.

Suing Consumer protection laws allow arbitration; you may also sue via the internet in the small claims court. If you are suing in the County Court a company you may do so at one local to you, but if suing one or more persons trading as a business it may have to be where it is located. In court protocol you need only send one Letter Before Court to the seller, and you must spell the seller’s name correctly -if a company is limited by guarantee its details are available from the Companies House –including the names of its company secretary and director/s with their direct contact addresses.

Unsolicited Goods in the case of, you do not need do anything -normally the goods become yours if you hear no more for six months or if you inform the seller but they are not collected within a month.

Do keep the receipts for monies paid and any documents.

(Sanctions against traders are not necessarily of lasting effect in the general spirit of lawful distance trading practices: e.g., the Aria Technology Limited was found in 2000 [ICSTIS report no. 81] by omission considered unintentional to have mislead the consumers, and in 2005 [Nominet DRS 02364: Atek –v- Aria] by commission intentionally to have done so. Should you wish legally justifiably in the public interest to alert fellow consumers, there are also consumer comments or consumer complaints sites on the internet where you may lawfully do so.)

(Laws change –always ascertain current law.)

The author has a website at: http://www.geocities.com/eoa_uk

The author’s favourite site is the Teacher of Teachers

Pennsylvania Lemon Law

The Pennsylvania Lemon Law (73 P. S. sec. 1951 et seq.) is a powerful state statute that protects consumers and purchasers of defective motor vehicles. The Lemon Law was established in 1984, and originally protected only those individuals who actually purchased a motor vehicle. In the late 1990’s, with the popularity of leasing a vehicle increasing dramatically, the PA legislature began to see that those individuals who leased what turned out to be defective vehicles were left without a remedy under the Pennsylvania Lemon Law. To that end, the legislature amended the PA Lemon Law in 2001 to include vehicles that were leased after February 11, 2002 for protection under the law. The PA Lemon Law, in a nutshell, provides for a refund of the purchase price or a replacement of the defective vehicle if certain criteria are met with regards to the defective conditions of the vehicle. The defective condition must substantially affect the Use, Value or Safety of the vehicle in question. Whether the Use, Value or Safety is affected for the most part requires application of the common sense test. If the vehicle has problems with the engine stalling while making left turns, that would likely be a serious problem that affects Use, Value and Safety. If the vehicle’s radio doesn’t pick up someone’s favorite station, that likely would not qualify as an impairment under the statute.

The PA Lemon Law provides that the first occurrence of the defect must arise within the first 12,000 miles, and that the Manufacturer be notified in that time frame as well. This notification can come simply in the form of having the purchaser/lessor take the vehicle in to the dealer for a repair. The law provides that the Manufacturer must be given a reasonable number of attempts to cure the defect, and in Pennsylvania there is a presumption that the number of repair attempts is three. An exception to that rule exists in that one occurrence of a defect which might cause death or serious bodily injury would be enough to render the vehicle a lemon. The type of defect necessary to fulfill that exception is not defined by the statute, and there has been no actual case law that has established what type of defect that might be. After the third occurrence of the defect, the purchaser/lessor of the vehicle can bring a claim under the Lemon Law, seeking either a refund of the purchase price or a replacement vehicle. The Lemon Law also provides for recovery of all consequential and incidental damages, which generally include all payments made towards financing, any down payment made, any charges for repair costs, rental car charges, towing charges and the like. Perhaps the most important aspect of the Lemon Law is that it provides that the Manufacturer must pay the consumer’s Attorney Fees and costs if the vehicle is found to be a lemon. This serves to provide the public with free legal representation in Lemon Law cases. It would be hard to imagine a more public friendly statute.

Greg Artim is a Pittsburgh Pennsylvania based Consumer Attorney assisting individuals with defective motor vehicle claims in all of Western Pennsylvania. Visit his website at http://www.ihatemylemon.com

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Bextra, Stevens – Johnson Syndrome, and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis – Is There A Connection?

Stevens – Johnson syndrome is a life-threatening disease that affects the skin, which causes skin peeling rashes, and blistering of the mucous membranes. The blistering is usually in areas such as the mouth, eyes, and vagina, and the rash can be patchy and in various areas. The other variation of SJS, which is TEN (Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis), has some of the same effects as SJS, but with this variation the skin can start to peel off on a large scale. Both of these skin diseases cause massive misery, pain, anxiety, and can prove fatal.

SJS and TEN are almost always caused by a drug reaction, and Bextra is known to be a risk factor. Although the FDA and Pfizer directors were thought to be aware of the link between Bextra use and SJS/TEN it was approved and prescribed to millions. Moreover, it is only very recently that Pfizer have been ordered to add a black box warning – the strongest warning possible – to Bextra packaging providing information about the risks carried by the drug in relation to these skin diseases.

The warning comes far too late for some people, who obliviously took the drug and suffered the effects. Bextra is now under fire once again for a possible link with heart attacks, although this is still being investigated. The side effects caused by Bextra have already resulted in a number of lawsuits against Pfizer, and it is likely that these lawsuits will continue to increase for the foreseeable future.

Those that have taken or are still taking Bextra are urged to educate themselves on the symptoms and effects of SJS/TEN and other Bextra side effects. If you notice anything amiss you should seek medical assistance immediately. You may also be entitled to compensation if you have suffered the side effects of Bextra, and there are now many lawyers and law firms that specialize in drug litigation and Bextra lawsuits. If you feel that you may have grounds for compensation – or even if you are unsure as to whether you have a case – it is advisable to contact an experienced Bextra lawyer. You will then be informed whether you have a valid case, and your lawyer can look at putting together a solid case in order to claim compensation for your medical expenses, pain, and suffering.

Scott Montgomery, who represents the Montgomery Law Firm, LLC specializes in handling cases that deal primarily with Bextra and its harmful side effects to consumers.

http://www.montgomerylaw.org/bextra.php

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Tricks of Lemon Law

Taking back your “LEMON” or compensating you for your inconvenience is the Legal obligation of the car company. Unfortunately, this costs them money and many will go to great lengths to keep you from taking advantage of your rights under the Lemon Laws.

Here are five (5) common “tricks” car companies use to avoid their Legal obligations to consumers:

• Dealer Trick #1 – Saying you do not have the right number of repair attempts.

The Law is very specific in regards to this matter. But dealers commonly mis-code the reason for the visit so it “appears” that you have not been there for the same reason.

• Dealer Trick #2 – Saying the defect never existed or it’s not the same defect.

This is one of our favorites – the old “Loophole.” A bit insulting isn’t it – as if you were imagining the car breaking down on Interstate 70.

• Dealer Trick #3 – Saying the defect is not “Substantial.”

The fact is that the defect does not need to be substantial under the Federal Lemon Law. The defect must substantially impair the use, value or safety under the State Lemon Law only. And you do not want the dealer determining if it was “substantial” anyway!

• Dealer Trick #4 – Saying the consumer abused or neglected the vehicle.

This is the quick “responsibility shift”- your fault not ours. This is typically a bunch of baloney. For example, if the vehicle is advertised as an off road vehicle, it can be taken off road. If you have kept reasonable service records this “trick” is easily dealt with.

• Dealer Trick #5 – Saying “That’s Normal” or “They All Do That.”

Today’s vehicles should be reliable and operate as advertised. Settling for defects you “can live with” was never part of the bargain when you bought your new vehicle.

Scott Hallman

The American Lemon Law Center was established with you, the consumer in mind, and provides all of the information you need to make your Lemon Law case as strong as possible. If you need further information about Lemon Laws, visit our Web site at http://www.americanlemonlawcenter.com.

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Law Information

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