Senior Legal Line - December 2009This month's senior advice column deals with being pressured into buying something you really didn't need and how you can remedy the situation.
Dear Senior Legal Line,
I bought a vacuum from a door-to-door salesman. After the salesperson left, I realized that I was pressured into a sale and I really didn’t need a new vacuum as my current one is working just fine. I already paid the money and feel that there may be very little I can do. I would like to return the vacuum and get my money back. Can you help?
In Minnesota there are laws that can control in-home solicitations and sales. A home solicitation sale is one in which a seller comes to your home to sell you something. Under Minnesota Statutes 325G.08 you should have been informed orally and in writing of your right to cancel the sales contract within three days of the transaction. Did the salesperson informed you orally and give you a piece of paper with the words “Notice of Cancellation”? If you received both the oral and written notice about your rights to cancel, you have those three days from the date of the transaction to cancel. Send the form that cancels the contract (or any other written notice stating your intention to cancel) to the seller at the seller’s place of business, postmarked no later than midnight the third day after the transaction. If you have not yet received proper notice of your right to cancel, then the three days have not started to elapse and you still have time to cancel the sale.
Meanwhile, you must keep the goods in a good condition in order that the seller can pick them up. If the seller does not come to pick up the goods within twenty days of the notice of cancellation, you may retain or dispose of them without any further obligations.
The seller must return the purchase price to the buyer within 10 days after the purchase has been revoked by the buyer. If the down payment includes goods the buyer traded in, those goods must also be tendered by the seller to the buyer in as good a condition as they were received by the seller.
If you did not receive the proper oral and written notices of your three-day right to cancel the home solicitation transaction, the seller has not fulfilled their statutory obligations and I advise you to immediately cancel the transaction, in writing, if you so desire. Again, you will have to keep the vacuum in good condition and offer to return the vacuum to the seller. If the seller does not return your money, you could pursue your remedies in small claims court and report the seller to the Minnesota Attorney Generals Office who is empowered to enforce such laws against non-complying home solicitation sellers.
This column is written by the Senior Citizens’ Law Project. It is not meant to give complete answers to individual questions. If you are 60 years of age or older and live within the Minnesota Arrowhead Region, you may contact us with questions for legal help by writing to: Senior Citizens’ Law Project, Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota, 302 Ordean Bldg., Duluth, MN 55802. Please include a phone number and return address. To view previous articles, go to: www.lasnem.org. Reprints by permission only.