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What is my best course of action?

Topeka, KS |

I purchased a product from a salesman and then the next day realized we could not afford it. I put a stop payment on my check, and then contacted the company via email and told them I could not afford this and would like to get the product back to them. I never heard anything back and sent another email to the company 9 days later, still to no response. I called the company and got a hold of the owner and he said they were just going to wait for the check to bounce and hit their system and go to FedChex their collection agency. I received notice from the collection agency and called the owner and told him I had sent an email informing them I could not afford and wished to return the product. He said that email does not constitute written notice as it should have stated on the receipt, which was never given to me by the salesman. He said since it is a perishable good product they can't take it back now and all this. Since, the salesman did not provide me a receipt, I made a good faith attempt to contact the company via email as listed on their website, however, the owner said it went to junk mail and they didn't get it. What is my best course of action, I am trying to settle this with the company but am not getting anywhere with them. Thanks.

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Attorney answers 2


This is a practicality issue as much as a legal one. I have no idea if the product was actually perishable or not (door-to-door sales - food?). You certainly made efforts to cancel the transaction, but once you tender a check, you've authorized collection upon that check. You needed to follow the company's return policy, if there is one (again, perishable goods?). The amount at issue here, however, is the real factor - if it is not a huge amount of money, it's not worth it for you to argue with the man.

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Your rights may depend on the nature and place of the sale. Although there is no general right to cancel a transaction just because you think better of it, state or federal law may provide for a "cooling off period" during which you may cancel.

Regardless of the legal status, keep in mind that the debt collection company does not care a bit about whether you had the right to cancel (and probably doesn't know what the cancellation procedure was supposed to be); and unless you make the check good the seller may report the account as delinquent to credit reporting agencies, which in many cases is the most damaging aspect of a dispute with a commercial entity. In some states these kinds of disputes even lead to threats of criminal charges for larceny (writing a check with no intent to pay).

For these reasons, I agree with the previous responder that depending on the amount of money at issue, discretion may dictate just eating the loss here. If you are still inclined to fight about it, contact a lawyer familiar with consumer protection laws in your state. (I am a Massachusetts lawyer, do not practice in Kansas, am not familiar with Kansas law.) A good place to start is the referral list maintained by the National Association of Consumer Advocates,

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