Consumer Protection Act Issue

Date: July 21, 2008

Laura and Rhoda would make it a point to stop in and check on their mom at least twice a day. Their mother was 86 and lived alone in her own home. Laura and Rhoda realized that their mom, while physically sprite, did have periods of mental confusion. Nevertheless, the girls were comfortable with the situation as the neighbors would also frequently stop in to check on their mother as well.

On May 15th a friendly vacuum cleaner salesman came to the door of Mrs. Petrie. Normally Mrs. Petrie would welcome everyone since it was just people checking in on her. She also welcomed the young man who seemed straight forward and quite nice. The salesman displayed his super deluxe X1000 vacuum cleaner. He advised Mrs. Petrie it would do a better job than any other cleaner on the market and used hardly any electricity whatsoever. He also advised Mrs. Petrie that if she bought the vacuum cleaner today, she would get the extra special bonus discount, and the vacuum cleaner would only cost her $2,000.

While Laura and Rhoda took care of virtually all of their mother\’s transactions, they did allow their mother access to a checking account and to write checks in case of emergencies which really had never happened. Nevertheless, Mrs. Petrie wrote out a check to the salesman\’s company for $2,000 and did not think about it at all after that.

That evening when Rhoda visited her mother, she asked where the vacuum cleaner had come from and quickly was advised as to what happened. Rhoda also made several calls and found out that the vacuum cleaner usually sells for $800 and contacted the salesman\’s company demanding a full refund.

Question: Will Rhoda be successful?

Answer: Yes. There are provisions in the Consumer Protection Act which provides specific protection for people like Mrs. Petrie. Mrs. Petrie will get a full refund. In situations where the consumer transaction is excessively one-sided in favor of someone other than the consumer such as this case or where it is clear the consumer is not reasonably able to protect their own interest or understand the full implications of the transaction, the law provides absolute protection to the vulnerable consumer.

Not only will Mrs. Petrie get her money back but, in all likelihood, the friendly salesman\’s company will face fines.

Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive. Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column.

Joe Price
Attorney Joe Price is a seasoned Trial Lawyer serving Northeast, Central and Southeast Pennsylvania for the past forty (40) years. He has handled serious personal injury cases in courts throughout the Federal system including New Jersey and New York. Attorney Price is A.V. Rated by Martindale Hubble. He is Board Certified in Civil Practice by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1996.