The Attorney General provides Consumer Alerts to inform the public of unfair, misleading, or deceptive business practices, and to provide information and guidance on other issues of concern. Consumer Alerts are not legal advice, legal authority, or a binding legal opinion from the Department of Attorney General.
Perhaps because so many large retailers voluntarily allow consumers to return merchandise with no questions asked, many consumers assume that they have a right to cancel a contract or to ask a retailer to take back an item and refund the consumer's money.
As a general matter of contract law, consumers do not have a right to cancel a sale of goods or services. In the case of defective, damaged, or undelivered goods, consumers may be able to demand their money back. And those merchants who choose to offer consumers a "money-back guarantee" must live up to their promises. But where the merchant has provided the goods or services that the consumer agreed to buy, the consumer generally may not insist on canceling a transaction after the fact.
If a seller who is not required by law to allow contract cancellation nevertheless does so, any reasonable seller costs may be passed on to the buyer. The contract may call for a certain agreed-upon amount of damages ("liquidated damages") if the buyer cancels. A term fixing unreasonably large liquidated damages is void as a penalty.
There are certain circumstances, however, when consumers do have a legal right to a "cooling-off period." During an applicable cooling-off period, the contract may be cancelled but consumers must carefully follow written instructions that sellers are required to provide at the time the contract is signed.
This Consumer Alert provides an abbreviated summary of four laws that provide consumers a right to cancel a contract. To read the Michigan laws in their entirety, refer to the Michigan Legislature's website. Other laws not mentioned in this Consumer Alert may also provide a cooling-off period. Promptly consult with your own private attorney to discuss your particular circumstances and determine whether a right to cancel may apply.
You have THREE business days to cancel a contract if:
You have ONE business day to cancel a contract if:
Because these laws can be tricky, the Attorney General advises consumers who think their situation may be covered to read their contracts thoroughly and, if you have questions whether the law applies, promptly seek legal advice-BEFORE YOUR CANCELLATION PERIOD EXPIRES.
Michigan's Home Solicitation Sales Act (HSSA) gives consumers who are solicited in their homes three business days to decide whether to cancel a contract. Here are some basic points about the HSSA.
You are protected by Michigan's HSSA when:
The Federal Trade Commission has a similar provision: FTC Rule Concerning Cooling-Off Period for Sales Made at Homes or at Certain Other Locations, 16 CFR 429.
Under Michigan's Gift Promotion Act consumers also have three business days to cancel a contract if they have a change of heart when:
Under the Federal Truth in Lending Act, consumers also have a three-day right to change their mind after they enter into:
If both of these conditions apply and the loan will not be used to purchase or construct a home, then the contract you entered is probably covered by the Federal Truth in Lending Act. This Act is complex and it is recommended that you consult your own lawyer to discuss your particular circumstances and how to provide notice of cancellation.
Under Michigan's Home Improvement Finance Act, you may have ONE day - until 5:00 p.m. of the next business day after signing the contract, to be precise - if:
This Act is also complex and consulting your own lawyer to discuss your particular circumstances is suggested.
1. Read your contract thoroughly. Merchants are required to provide written notice in the contract that you have a right to cancel and explain what you must do in order to provide notice of your decision to cancel. If this information is not provided, then the length of time to cancel may be extended.
2. Exercise your right to cancel in the manner required under the law that applies.
3. If the contract does not tell you of your right to cancel.
Consumers may contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at:Consumer Protection Division