Common Consumer Law Questions Part 1


Consumer law is one area of the law that frequently affects the average individual, and yet rarely requires the services of an attorney. However, its important that consumers have a basic understanding of their rights. Below are some of the frequently asked consumer law questions we encounter in our practice:

Are there laws protecting consumers from being charged full price for items marked for sale by the retailer?

When a retailer advertises a discounted price tag but charges full price for the item at the register, this is known as a “bait and switch”, and it does violate false advertising laws in new york, as well as General Business Law 350 & 350-a. If this was done deliberately it may also violate the Unlawful Selling Practices Law as well as General Business Law 396 though the right to sue under these statutes is limited to the Attorney General. In New York City, there is also a “Truth in Pricing” Law in the New York City administrative code, Chapter 5, Subchapter 2.

Can I take Legal Action If Someone doesn’t Pay For An Item Sent By Mail?

With the popularity of sites like eBay, this is a fairly common scenario. You can certainly sue the seller for breach of contract for a sale of goods. However, practical enforcement may be difficult if the seller resides outside of your state, or worse, outside of the country. The best way to ensure payment for online transactions is to use a reputable payment provider, accept payment in advance, and ensure that you properly track the mail of your item. When using a payment provider like Paypal, be sure to follow their guidelines to ensure that you qualify for Seller Protection in cases of fraud.

What Is The Max Interest Rate I Can Be Charge On A Retail Installment Contract?

For a contract executed in New York, no max interest applies to a retail installment contract under the time price doctrine. The New York Retail Installment Sales Act states that the maximum interest rate is whatever is in the contract. Retail Installment sales do not qualify as a loan that falls under usury laws.

In certain instances however, it may still be advisable to contact a consumer attorney, as in certain instances, the transaction could potentially be deemed a loan that falls under usury laws. Just because a transaction is documented as a retail installment sale, doesn’t necessarily mean it is in the eyes of the law. E.g. If a car dealer executes an installment sale contract, and then turns around and simply assigns it to a bank, courts may deem that the transaction is actually a loan from the bank. The fact that the transaction is documented as a retail installment sale will be seen as a sham designed to avoid the limits set in place by usury laws.

Note: The above is NOT legal advice and is for general informational purposes only.

Leave Yours +

One Comment

  1. very useful facts tom, thanks!

    had no idea retail installment sales weren’t protected by usury laws though, thats insane!

  • Comments are Closed