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How to protect yourself when shopping online?
Considering the mass development of the internet and technology, many consumers find it convenient to do holiday shopping online. Shopping online can help save gas money, allows a consumer to easily compare prices, and can offer extra customization options for select products and services. Ohio consumers making purchases online are protected by the Consumer Sales Practices Act (CSPA), which is a series of regulations and rules the lawyers at Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. have experience working with.
The CSPA protects consumers from misleading, unfair, and bad business practices. It makes the businesses recognize and honor all promises and warranties, and prevents them from taking advantage of consumers. In Ohio, lawsuits involving violations of the CSPA allow fee shifting. Therefore, if a business loses a lawsuit to a consumer, then the business may be required to pay all the attorney fees for the consumer.
Businesses who engage in online retailing are expected to comply with the CSPA. If a consumer purchases an item online but receives the wrong item in the mail, then the vender is required to correct the problem at no extra charge. Typically, online retailers will replace the item or refund the consumer. Details about resolving issues with online purchases are usually listed in the disclaimer or legal terms section of the order summary or receipt.
The Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule protects all orders placed over the internet and protects consumers who never receive products purchased online. This rule requires online retailers to follow the 30-day rule and ship online orders to consumers with a reasonable time period of 30 days. If the online retailer cannot fulfill the 30-day rule, the retailer must ask permission from the consumer to ship an order late or refund their order.
Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, it is also illegal for a retailer to charge a consumer for an item that may have been shipped but was never delivered. Packages can be stolen, delivered to the wrong address, or misplaced. If the online retailer refuses to refund the consumer for an order that was never delivered, then the consumer may try to contact the charge card company they used to pay. The charge card company may be willing to refund the consumers money for the troublesome transaction.
Consumers shopping online should also take precautions when buying products from foreign companies located outside the United States. Prices may not be listed in U.S. dollars and consumers may get charged with a currency exchange fee. Shipping will be more expensive and most likely take longer too. If a consumer never receives a package shipping from another country, correcting the order will be extremely difficult. Most online retailers require consumers to correct the problem in the retailers’ local court. So, if the retailer is located in Japan, you may have to go to Japan to fix the problem.
Selling products and services online is a great way for retailers to market themselves to more consumers. Retailers can also sell items online that they may not have instore. Whether the retailer is selling products in a store or online, the retailer is expected to follow the regulations of the CSPA. The consumer lawyers at Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A. are experts at handling lawsuits involving the CSPA and can help consumers who have been misled and bullied by businesses during a transaction. Call us today at (614) 944-5219 for a consultation.
Let Me Call You Back… Why Auto Dialers Are Bad for Business
Have you ever received a phone call from a number you did not recognize, only to find it was a robocall about a service you did not want or need? Did that phone call end with the nagging question of how were they able to get your phone number? Our client, Rick W., went through an experience like that. When he answered his cell phone, he was autodialed about a problem that no homeowner ever wants to get a call about: his mortgage.
In setting up his mortgage, our client was careful to only to write his home phone number in the section marked “borrower information” and gave his cell phone number to the bank solely as a work number. Rick did not volunteer this number to be called by his mortgage company. As such, his rights were violated under the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) when his mortgage company, Carrington Mortgage Services autodialed his cellphone. Doucet & Associates filed a class action on his behalf, which recently settled for over $1 million.
The TCPA was passed in 1991 to protect consumers from tactics that were becoming increasingly pervasive among telemarketers, such as using auto dialers to advertise to cell phone users. In many cases, calling a cell phone would result in a charge to the owner of that device, meaning that unsolicited calls were not only an annoyance, but an actual expense to anyone receiving them. Automated messages, or robocalls, are also prohibited by the TCPA, because Congress found that they are a greater nuisance and invasion of privacy than their human counterparts.
Our client never intended to have his cell phone number used for unsolicited calls. He maintained that Carrington repeatedly used an auto-dialer to communicate with him about his mortgage, in some cases calling his cell several times a week to leave threatening automated messages. His lawsuit alleged that Carrington even called him twenty-six times in the span of 3 months, which equates to roughly one call every three or four days.
Vanessa R. believed herself to be in a similar situation with Carrington, but when she took over her current mortgage from her ex-husband in 2008, she did not even have a cell phone. She eventually got one in 2010, and alleged that Carrington began sending her threatening messages regarding her mortgage roughly a year after that point. She did not know how Carrington obtained her number, but she claimed that when she asked Carrington about the matter, they responded by saying “we have ways of locating that information.” She co-sued in the class action lawsuit.
Much like Rick, Vanessa claimed to have received multiple automated calls a week from Carrington on a cell phone that was never volunteered. The parallels in these cases led attorneys to believe that this was likely a pattern of behavior from Carrington, resulting in the class action lawsuit. If any of this sounds similar to an experience you have gone through, regardless of whether or not Carrington was involved, call us at (614)-944-5219.
Doucet Sues Company That Helps the Elderly Sell Belongings
Doucet & Associates Co. LPA, a small law firm dedicated to helping consumers and those facing financial difficulty, filed a federal lawsuit against the company Caring Transitions for violations Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act (CSPA), breach of contract, and fraudulent misrepresentation.
Caring Transitions manages senior relocation, downsizing and estate sales. The law firm’s client, a senior citizen, contracted with Caring Transitions to liquidate thousands of her belongings — including many valuable antiques – during a time of financial distress. The lawsuit alleges the company was to move the designated items from the property to its sales location, plus clean the property while the client was out of state caring for her disabled son.
The lawsuit alleges Caring Transitions violated Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act (CSPA), which prohibits unfair and deceptive practices in consumer sales transactions, by claiming it had sold her possessions when it had not. The lawsuit alleges that the company told the client that she was entitled to only $276.80 after selling all her goods, which she estimates to be worth in the tens of thousands of dollars.The lawsuit also alleges the company failed to provide her a receipt of items allegedly sold and charged her thousands of dollars in moving and cleaning expenses.
Despite Caring Transitions representations it had sold all of her goods, the lawsuit alleges the client began to see her items listed for sale by the company online, and realized they had not been sold as claimed. The lawsuit alleges she tried to reclaim the unsold items and was told less than 10 were available for picking up.However, once she appeared at Caring Transitions showroom, she saw and retrieved 29 items. Meanwhile, her real estate agent informed her that her home was not cleaned as promised.
Because of lack of money generated from the sale of the client’s goods, she was unable to make her mortgage payments and her property entered foreclosure. The firm’s client is seeking relief of more than $75,000 for actual damages in addition to attorney’s fees and costs, plus punitive, emotional, economic and other damages.
Doucet & Associates is dedicated to fighting for the rights of consumers, protecting their interests and offering legal assistance to those who would otherwise be unable to afford it. If you need help with a company that is trying to take advantage of you or a loved one, call the firm today at (614) 944-5219.