The Center For Debt Management
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Consumer Quiz

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) receives many letters from consumers asking various questions about their rights under FTC-enforced laws and rules. Here are some of the most frequently-asked questions. See how much you know about your consumer rights.

1. Your new washing machine spills water on the floor. The dealer's mechanics have repaired it several times under the warranty, but it still is not working right. Your warranty runs out, and two weeks later it spills water again. Do you have to pay for the repairs now?

No. If you complained about the problem during the warranty period and it was not fixed properly, you are entitled to get it repaired. Your warranty rights do not run out for problems you complained about during the warranty period.

2. The used car you bought less than one month ago developed transmission trouble. You consult your sales contract and discover you purchased the car "as is." What is "as is."

"As is" means that the seller makes no promises to fix the item later. If you want warranty protection, make sure the seller puts repair promises in writing.

3. Your credit card is stolen. Before you can report it to the card company, the thief charges $1,000 worth of goods on your card. What is the most you will have to pay?

Used before you report it missing, the maximum you owe is $50. After you report the card missing, you are not liable for any purchases made by the unauthorized user.

4. You lost your electronic fund transfer (EFT) card that lets you withdraw money using a teller machine. You report the card lost a week after discovering it was missing. How much money can you lose?

$500. If your EFT card is lost or stolen, and you do not notify your bank within two business days after discovering it is missing, you may lose as much as $500. If you notify the bank within two business days, your liability is limited to $50.

5. A debt collection agency keeps calling you at home about a bill you owe. You want to pay the bill but you lost your job two months ago. Can you stop the collector from calling?

Yes. If you write the debt collector a letter saying "stop bothering me," the collector must stop calling. However, this does not erase your debt; you still owe the money.

6. There is a mistake on your monthly credit card bill. To correct the error, should you write or call the company?

Write a letter and use the special billing error address provided by the company. While a phone call may resolve the problem quickly, sending a letter is the only way to trigger your rights under the Fair Credit Billing Act, a federal law that requires the card issuer to correct billing errors or justify the charges.

7. You just had your eyes examined. What should you do if you want to shop around and buy your glasses somewhere else?

Ask the examiner for a copy of your prescription. An FTC rule requires ophthalmologists and optometrists to give patients their eyeglasses prescription after an examination at no extra charge.

8. This morning a salesperson knocked on your door and sold you $200 worth of encyclopedias. Now you decide you do not want the books. Can you cancel the sales contract?

Yes. You have three days to cancel most door-to-door transactions of $25 or more. The seller is required to give you a cancellation form at the time of sale. Sign and mail it to the address given for cancellation any time before midnight of the third business day after the day of sale.

9. Last night you visited a health spa and signed a membership contract. Do you have three days to cancel the contract?

No. You usually do not get three days to cancel sales made at a merchant's regular place of business. However, a few state and local laws provide extra protection on some contracts like health spas. Check with your local consumer protection agency if you have questions.

10. To help finance your new car, you need to take out a loan. What is the most important question to ask about financing?

Ask for the Annual Percentage Rate (APR). The rates charged for loans may vary significantly. The APR is a unit price for credit which takes into account all the finance costs of the loan. Use the APR to compare loans and shop around for the best deal.

11. You sent a mail-order company $30 for a new pair of shoes. Shipment was promised in two weeks. Six weeks later you have not heard from the company, and your shoes have not arrived. Are you entitled to get your money back?

Yes. The FTC's Mail or Telephone Order Rule allows you to cancel most orders and get a complete refund if you did not get delivery in the time period promised.

12. You ordered some cookware using a credit card and an 800 telephone number. The ad said the merchandise would be shipped in six weeks. It is three months later and you never received your order. You have not been billed for the merchandise but wish to cancel the order because of the delay, and avoid being billed. Can you use the FTC's Mail or Telephone Order Rule to cancel your order?

Yes. Effective March 1, 1994, telephone sales are covered by the rule.

13. You were recently divorced. Now you realize all your credit cards are in your ex-husband's name. How can you establish your own credit rating by using your past credit history?

Apply for credit in your own name and list the accounts you shared with your former husband. If the creditor has trouble verifying these references because they were listed only in your husband's name, offer to provide additional information that would confirm your participation in payment of those bills. This might include cancelled checks where your name would show that you either paid the bills or that you shared the account with your former husband.

14. Where can you get information about other consumer matters?

Contact Public Reference, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580; 202-326-2222.
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