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Some companies make extra money by oppressing consumers with hidden fees. Most of the time hidden fees appear in transactions that include contracts such as charge cards, loans, hotels, student fees, and telecommunication services like internet, television, and phones.
Prepaid Entertainment Contracts
Laws protect consumers who sign and agree to prepaid entertainment contracts. Examples of prepaid entertainment contracts are gym memberships, dance studios, dating services, massage companies and spas, martial arts facilities, sports clubs, weight reduction centers, and other services requiring monthly payments.
Prepaid entertainment contracts have to be in writing and signed by the consumer and the servicer before the contract begins. The contract has to be under three years and the consumer cannot be charged more than ten percent of the total contract before the services are made available. Servicers must tell consumers orally about a right to cancel the contract and must provide two printed copies of the cancellation rights along with the agreement at the signing.
Every consumer is eligible for a three day right to cancel after signing. A disclosure in bold print should verify all rights to cancel the contract. A consumer disability also justifies the right to cancel and relocation of the company facility more than 25 miles away from a previous location is also reasonable cause to cancel. It is also illegal for a company to waive the right of the consumer to cancel in the contract. Every consumer has the right to cancel.
The company cannot deny a cancellation and must stop charging a consumer after canceling. A company failing to provide a consumer with the rights to cancel in the agreement at signing can allow a consumer to cancel at any time, even years after the contract began. A consumer lawyer can provide assistance to consumers dealing with companies not following the law and struggling with canceling a membership. Consumers who sign contracts before a facility opens are protected by additional rights.
On Sunday, people in the United States of America will gather to reflect on a tragic time in our nation’s history. Honoring the innocent lives that were taken that day and remembering those who emerged to serve and offer assistance when our nation was experiencing tragedy represents the best of our country. Recollecting the facts of that day in 2001 is important for our nation to recall a time of standing together for all that were directly and indirectly affected.
The terrorism by an Islamic extremist group brought upon our country that day involved four plane crashes. Two hijacked planes were flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. A third plane struck the Pentagon at the U.S. military headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. And the fourth crashed down in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Including heroic police officers, firefighters and civilians, over 3,000 lives were loss that day in tragic destruction.
In replace of the World Trade Center towers that were traumatically destroyed now stands the One World Trade Center. This building is also commonly referred to as the Freedom Tower and is now the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere standing at a 1,776 feet. The height is iconic and meant to resemble the year the Declaration of Independence was enacted. In May 2013, a spire was also positioned on the top of the building to ensure it was the tallest building with the highest point making the height at the tip an estimated 1,792 feet. September 11 is also now legally designated as Patriot Day.
There are many national events happening on Sunday in recognition of this devastating occurrence. The most common that often take place country wide include the moments of silence.
- 8:46 am The first plane crashed into the North Tower at the World Trade Center.
- 9:03 am The second plane crashed into the South Tower at the World Trade Center.
- 9:37 am The third plane crashed into the Pentagon in close proximity to Washington D.C.
- 10:03 am The fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers on board take control from hijackers after learning of the other attacks.
- 10:28 am The North Tower collapses and rescue effort begins.
Locally in Columbus, Ohio there are also many events taking place to help honor and remember everyone impacted. Some of the events included but are not limited to are:
There is the Memorial Stair Climb taking place at the Chase Tower in downtown Columbus.
The Heroes Run on September 10 at Alum Creek Park North.
A Memorial Flag Display at the Ohio Statehouse.
The Ruc. Run. Remember. race in Groveport, Ohio.
There are many more local events happening all around Columbus, Ohio. We welcome you to leave information about an event in the comments to inform and bring awareness of how our country is coming together. Doucet & Associates also would like to acknowledge our heartfelt condolences to everyone affected.
If a Consumer Pays a Deposit as Part of a Consumer Transaction, the Supplier Must Have an Articulated Refund Policy
William and Joan Layne, consumers as that term is defined in the Consumer Sales Practices Act, R.C. §1345.01, et seq., entered into a consumer transaction with Tru-Built Homes, Inc., to build a detached garage on their property. The contract price of $7,196.00 was to be paid in three installments, with the first as a down payment at the time the contract was signed. The contract went on to guarantee that the supplier would: “fix, replace, or repair any part that goes wrong, that is our fault, because of poor workmanship or faulty materials for one full year at absolutely no cost to the consumer.”
The concrete garage floor that was poured by the contractor did not conform to the contract’s specifications in that it did not align with the house. The parties negotiated for several weeks, trying to resolve the non-conformity, without reaching an acceptable solution. Finally, it was agreed that the contractor would remove and re-pour the pad. A subcontractor started the task, but did not complete it. Finally, the Laynes terminated the contract relationship, and filed litigation alleging breach of contract and violations of the Consumer Sales Practices Act, R.C. §1345.01 et seq.
A jury awarded damages of $6,277.00 on the breach of contract claim, but the trial court ruled against plaintiffs on the CSPA claim. On appeal, the 2nd District reversed, finding that there was sufficient evidence in the record to find that the defendant had engaged in deceptive and unconscionable practices by accepting a deposit without articulating a refund policy, engaging in a pattern of inefficiency and incompetency, and failing to honor an express warranty, all of which have been held to violate the CSPA.
R.C. §1345.09(B) states that when a supplier in a consumer transaction has engaged in a deceptive or unconscionable act, a consumer is entitled to three times actual damages or $200, whichever is greater. On remand, the lower court did not separate the breach of contract damages previously found by the jury from the CSPA violations damages, as the appellate court clearly contemplated, and simply trebled the jury’s finding of $6,277.00, totaling $18,831.00, as plaintiffs’ actual damages. Defendants appealed again, and the appellate court agreed that damages were due and owing for the several CSPA violations but disagreed with the trial court’s basis for its finding of actual damages, so the court remanded that matter a second time for the trial court to re-examine each CSPA violation to fashion an appropriate damages award.
The 2nd District left alone the trial court’s award of attorney fees under the CSPA, reasoning that the supplier had knowingly committed the violation, which is enough to justify awarding attorney fees under R.C. §1345.09(F). Quoting from the Supreme Court decision in Einhorn v. Ford Motor Co., (1990) 48 Ohio St. 3d, 27, 30, the appellate court stated that knowingly committing an act or practice “ ‘means that the supplier need only intentionally do the act…The supplier does not have to know that his conduct violates the [CSPA]. ’ ” Id., at p. 6. The trial court had held a separate hearing on attorney fees following the first remand, finding that $18,329.70 was a reasonable amount for plaintiffs’ attorney fees in the pursuit of their CSPA claims.
Layne v. McGowen, 2nd Dist. Case No. 16400, November 14, 1997
PIF #10001592: Decision under Consumer Sales Practices Act, R.C. §1345.01, et seq.
LA Fitness Loses PECA Lawsuit
An LA Fitness in Columbus lost a lawsuit to Doucet & Associates this year. The lawsuit alleged that our client was tricked into signing contracts for services that she had no intention of using and would cost her almost nine times as much as she intended to pay. There were numerous violations of the Prepaid Entertainment Contract Act (PECA) concerning LA Fitness’ conduct in this case, and a judgement was taken against LA Fitness after it failed to appear at trial.
In early February, our client signed a contract with LA Fitness for five personal training sessions. The deal, as she understood it, was for her to pay for four personal training sessions and get the fifth one free. However, the contract she signed locked her into a year’s worth of training sessions and renewed automatically each year. Similarly, the contract she signed for access to the gym had the same expanded language.
PECA requires that contracts do not exceed three years in length, arguably making these contracts indefinite. Our client was never informed of her right to cancellation, which was also a clear violation of PECA. Finally, our client was never given a copy of the contracts she signed, resulting in the final violation of the Ohio law.
Thanks to Doucet & Associates Co LPA, our client ultimately won the case, resulting in a complete refund to our client, damages, plus attorney fees and costs. Our law firm often works with cases concerning PECA, which applies to a variety of entertainment contracts including, martial arts facilities, dating services, dance studios, spas and gyms. If you feel that you signed an entertainment contract that was not what you were led to believe, call Doucet & Associates at (614) 944-5219.