Warranties and Returns: Common Law

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If a Car Warranty Company Won't Pay a Claim, Can I Sue?

Your car is covered by a warranty and that has always been a solace to you. But now that you actually have made needed repairs and submitted your claim, the company is refusing to reimburse you. You can sue, but there are also some steps you should take first -- doing these could inspire the warranty company to pay up. If not, document all you have done and then file a lawsuit.

What You Need From a Mattress Return Policy

You bought a fancy mattress online and were very excited but now you're finding that there is no rest for the weary. You toss and turn and are burning with a desire to send this mattress back to wherever it came from. Can you?

The answer is most likely yes, but it depends. Returns are governed by the law and by seller policies. There is no blanket prohibition on returning mattresses, but retailers may put prohibitions on returns for particular items if those limitations are in line with state law. Let's consider what the shopping experts at Consumer Reports say you should seek in a mattress return policy.

Is It Illegal to Return Prescription Drugs?

When a pharmacist prepares a prescription, it is intended for a particular person to treat a specific issue and can't just be given to anyone. This begs the question then, can you return a prescription medication?

The answer is simple on the one hand: yes, if the pharmacy policy allows it. In fact, however, the notion of pharmaceutical returns and reuse is complex and dictated by state and federal regulations. Let's consider what is at stake.

Can I Return a Swimsuit?

In the dead of winter you bought a swimsuit imagining a new you by summer. Now the hot season is nearly here but you're still not ready. You want to return the swimsuit. Can you?

Returns are a cornerstone of American commerce -- they make us confident consumers. We commit without committing by buying while reserving the right to return, and everyone wins, buyer and seller alike. But there are exceptions -- some things you buy cannot be exchanged or returned. Let's look at shopping law, keeping in mind that each state has its own legislation.

3 Ways Online Gift Returns Can Present a Problem

Buying presents over the Internet seems so convenient -- until you have to deal with online gift returns.

There are always challenges when it comes to returning unwanted holiday gifts, but when those gifts are bought online it can make things more complicated. How do you return a gift to the store if it wasn't bought in a physical store?

If you've bought items online to give as gift, it's good to know the rules about online gift returns. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Find out where you can return your gifts. Many online retailers have stores as well, especially big departments stores and national clothing chains. In some cases you can return unwanted items to brick-and-mortar stores, but that may mean you only get store credit rather than getting your money back. To return items to online-only retailers, you may have to pay for shipping out of your own pocket. As the gift giver it's a nice gesture to offer to organize the return if the gift is the wrong size or color.

  • There may be a restocking fee. Returning a gift to an online retailer may not be free, even if you don't have to pay for shipping. Some companies charge a restocking fee which is a percentage of the original price. For example, Amazon charges a 20 percent fee to take back unopened media items or items that aren't returned for more than 30 days. It's not just online retailers either. Bigger stores may also charge a restocking fee if you try to return items that have already been unwrapped.

  • Get a gift receipt. As a gift giver you don't want to necessarily give away how much the gift cost, but if the receiver wants to return it then she'll need a receipt. Many larger retailers will create a gift receipt for you that doesn't include a final price. But if that's not possible, be sure to keep the receipt around. That way if it has to be returned you'll have it ready.

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Gift Returns Made Easy with 5 Simple Tips

You are going to get some great deals over Thanksgiving weekend, but there's no guarantee your gifts will go over well with everyone. Here are five tips to make sure your presents will be presentable for returns and exchanges.

1. Keep your receipts.

As most everyone knows, the majority of retailers require a receipt for a refund, as proof of your purchase. It's also a good idea to keep the original box and other packaging -- even the shopping bag -- in case a store clerk gets suspicious or extra picky, AARP money specialist Ron Burley says.

You should also include a gift receipt when giving your gifts, so your recipient can return or exchange your gift more easily, suggests Burley.

2. Read the return policy.

Each store has a different policy when it comes to returns and exchanges. But note that one-third to one-half of retailers usually relax their return policies around the holidays -- for example, extending deadlines and waiving receipt requirements, according to the National Retail Federation.

3. Be aware of restocking fees.

Certain products may not entitle you to a full refund upon return. Electronics and special orders, for example, may be charged a restocking fee -- typically 10% to 15%. State laws usually limit how much retailers can charge for restocking fees.

4. Track mail-order gifts that never arrived.

Federal law comes into play when you order goods by mail, by phone, or online. Sellers must ship your goods within 30 days, unless the offer specifies a later delivery date. If your shipment is delayed, the retailer must tell you -- and give you a chance to cancel and get your money back.

5. Think before you redeem e-gifts.

E-gifting is a growing trend, but what if you get an e-present that you don't want to keep? Think twice before you install, download, or type in your redemption code -- any of those actions may make your gift non-returnable. Check online retailers' customer service pages for details on how to make an e-gift return or exchange.

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Amazon Return Plan Would Allow Returns Before Item Ships

Millions of people bought Christmas gifts online, including at popular retailer Amazon.com. So what about if you want to return an Amazon gift? A new return policy would allow you to return the unwanted item before it even ships.

The Amazon gift return plan would save headaches all around, especially for the Seattle-based retailer. Rather than go through the cumbersome process of packaging and shipping an item just to have it packaged and shipped back, Amazon would be alerted before the process begins and the customer can pick a new present that would arrive at the same time as the unwanted one. Although win-win for most, there is the concern that the real loser is the one that is paying for the present.

"The idea totally misses the idea of gift giving. The point of gift giving is to allow someone else to go through that action of buying something for us. Otherwise, giving a gift just becomes another one of the world's transactions. Gift giving is not just about the loot. It is about the fact that someone thought about you something and took the time to do it," etiquette expert and strong opponent of the Amazon return plan Anna Post told the Washington Post.

The Amazon return plan contains a 12-page patent which hopes to not only allow for early returns but also to streamline the digital gift-giving process as a whole. Not only does the process represent the biggest cost-reduction in e-retailing shipping, but the gift giver does not necessarily need to know that the gift was returned in the first place. Which is much like a giver not knowing that a more conventional gift was returned.

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Gift Returns: Retailers Tightening Return Policies This Year

Didn't like the socks you got for Christmas? You're not alone. Some 20% of Americans plan on returning at least one gift this holiday season. With so many gift returns, retailers are tightening their return policies. Here are some tips for a hassle free gift return season:

  • Return as you received: Stores don't want damaged goods so if you think you may be returning an item, don't take it for a trial run before deciding. Especially with clothes, it is very easy to tell if an item has been worn so the best approach to an unwanted holiday gift is to keep it as close to the original packaging as possible.
  • Return at a quiet time: With so many holiday shoppers returning gifts, the best approach is to go at a time when the store will not be as busy. Not only will this give you a chance to pick out a different more desirable present, but it will also ensure that you aren't dealing with an overwhelmed employee.
  • Check return policies: Some of the approaches that stores are using to tighten return policies include requiring receipts, creating small return time frames, and only giving the current price of a product when it is returned. Although there is little you can do about some of these rules, calling ahead to check on a return policy and asking for items from stores you know have a liberal policy are good practices. With the increase in online shopping, many retailers include a return label that can be placed on the original box so make sure that you do not throw away any packaging until you are sure that you want to keep it.

The season of giving is also the season of returning. This is a good philosophy to keep in mind when you are giving gifts as well. Think of a receipt as a contract -- you should read the terms of the item and gift return policy before signing it with a swipe of your credit card. Happy Holidays everyone!

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Auto Warranty Robocall Scam Class Action

In Illinois man has filed a class action suit against two companies at the center of the auto warrranty robo-calling harassment which has drawn attention from federal and state governments. While a recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suit involved the millions of people robo-called despite being on the Do Not Call Registry, this suit involves what actually happens if you buy one of the warranty policies. Spoiler alert: the policies in addition to the sales tactics appear to have some problems.

At this point, one might be hard pressed to find someone who has not received one of there automated calls pretending to be affiliated with their car dealership, and warning that warranty coverage is about to expire. These folks have gotten in deep dutch for showing incredible disregard for the national Do Not Call Registry, as well as inappropriately calling people's mobile phones.

According to the suit filed by Jonathan J. Sahim on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, at least with Dealers Warranty LLC (a.k.a. Federal Auto Protection) and Warranty Finance LLC, the problems don't end with shady telemarketing practices.

He claims that he purchased a policy from Dealers Warranty in 2007, with flat monthly payments to last 60 months. On cancelling his policy, he was charged hundreds of dollars in "interest" and "marketing" fees that he claims were undisclosed. These fees totaled 25% of the value of the policy.

So, in addition to protecting yourself from the car warranty robo-calls, also remember to protect yourself from the potentially misleading policies they are actually selling.

Car Warranty Robocalls: How to Protect Yourself

Three companies have been ordered to stop making car warranty expiration warning "robocalls" and have seen their assets frozen, after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a lawsuit over the calls last week.

Temporary restraining orders were issued against Voice Touch, Inc., Network Foundations, LLC, and Transcontinental Warranty, Inc., by U.S. District Judge John F. Grady in Illinois late last week. The orders came shortly after the FTC filed a federal lawsuit accusing the companies of "operating a massive telemarketing scheme that used random, pre-recorded phone calls to deceive consumers into thinking that their vehicle’s warranty is about to expire."

These restraining orders and the FTC lawsuit are the latest rounds in the legal fight against car warranty robocalls. As many as 30 states are investigating the calls, as reported here last week, and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has filed a lawsuit against two telemarketing companies hawking auto service contracts. Now is a good time to learn more about how these car warranty robocall companies operate, and what you should watch out for.  

Car Warranty Scams: Protect Yourself. The sketchy companies behind the growing auto warranty robocall trend are trying to convince consumers that the calls are coming from their car dealer, or from someone affiliated with their car dealer. But really they're just independent (and likely not very reputable) businesses trying to sell service contracts to car owners. These "deals" have nothing to do with your car or your warranty, and the pitches are often made to people who don't even own a car. Worst of all, after all the high-pressure sales tactics, and payment of hundreds or even thousands of dollars, "if you buy a service contract, you may find that the company behind it won't be in business long enough to fulfill its commitments, " according to the FTC.

So, you should ignore robocalls telling you that your car's warranty is about to expire. But if you have legitimate concerns about your car's warranty (i.e. whether it actually has expired and whether additional coverage may be optional) check the paperwork on your vehicle and contact the dealer or the service center listed there.

No matter what, to avoid possible identity theft or other fraud victimization, don't give out your personal or financial information to a company that contacts you via a robocall, since you don't know who is on the other end of the line. Even if an offer sounds legitimate, always ask for more information in writing, and take some time to investigate the business before giving over any information or payment. Learn more: How to Steer Clear of Auto Warranty Scams