At the Better Business Bureau, we get phone calls daily from consumers who want to cancel a contract, return a recently purchased vehicle, or think there is a “lemon law” for everything. So, I think it’s important to take a look at … let’s call them consumer myths.
Here are the types calls we get most frequently:
• Myth No. 1 – I have a three-day right to cancel any purchase.
Fact: In Illinois, there are situations where you can cancel a purchase agreement or contract — but not very many. For the most part the three-day right to cancel applies to transactions of $25 dollars or more that were initiated away from the seller’s regular place of business; such as door-to-door sales. The other is when your house is collateral for a loan. When it applies, the seller must give you two copies of a cancellation form (one to keep and one to send if you decide to cancel your purchase) and a copy of your contract or receipt.
• Myth No. 2 – I have five days to give the car back to the dealer and walk away.
Fact: You can’t. Whether you purchased a car that you can’t afford or you just have buyer’s remorse, the car is yours along with the payments. In some cases, a dealer might put you in a more affordable vehicle but they are under no obligation either legally or morally to do so.
• Myth No. 3 – A store has to give me a refund if I ask for one.
Fact: There are no state or federal laws that regulate refund and return policies. Each retailer is free to set their own policies.
• Myth No. 4 – There is a “lemon law” that protects you on all your purchases.
Fact: Illinois’ lemon law applies to only to new cars and even then, specific guidelines also must be met. There is no universal lemon law for big-ticket items or any other purchase. The law also does not apply to used cars purchased “as is” without a warranty.
• Myth No. 5 – Businesses must honor the advertised prices that you see or hear on TV, radio, newspapers, or magazines.
Fact: In general, there’s no law that requires a business to honor an advertised price if that price is wrong. Typographical errors, miscommunication and other glitches can result in items being offered at what appears to be a super deal. Typically, there is a disclaimer in the ad that states they are not responsible for errors. However, if not too costly, sometimes the business will honor the price but that’s usually for customer goodwill.
So, if none of these things are true what do I do? Think, before you act and do your homework before you sign the deal. Visit bbb.org or call us at 815-963-2222 so that you can check out the business and have knowledge of its marketplace conduct.
Dennis Horton is regional director of the Rockford Better Business Bureau, which covers Winnebago, Boone and Stephenson counties among others.