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Shopping & Contracts

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Shopping & Contracts

Michigan's Scanner Law

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Scanner Error Bill of Rights

The Shopping Reform and Modernization Act, or Scanner Law, requires that most items on store shelves be clearly displayed with the price; by signage, electronic reader, price sticker, or any other method that clearly and reasonably conveys the price to a consumer in the store at the place where the item is located. If an automatic checkout system (scanner) charges you more than the displayed price of an item, and:

  1. the transaction has been completed, and
  2. you have a receipt indicating the item purchased and the price charged for it;


You must notify the seller that you were overcharged, within 30 days of the transaction, either in person or in writing. Within two days of receiving your notice, the seller may choose to refund you the difference between the amount charged and the price displayed plus a "bonus" of ten times the difference, with a minimum of $1.00 and a maximum of $5.00. If the seller does not pay you both the refund and the bonus, you may bring a lawsuit to recover your actual damages or $250.00, whichever is greater, plus reasonable attorney fees up to $300.00. You may instead file a complaint in a small claims court without an attorney.

Review All Pricing and Scanner Error Questions

Online Shopping

Online Shopping: Be Smart, Stay Safe

Have you ever bought something online because a notice popped up suggesting that the viewed item was nearly sold out? Perhaps you’ve bought something under pressure of a timer that urged you to complete your purchase before the item is deleted from your cart? 

These common online selling tactics are called ‘dark patterns’ and they are used by online retailers to play on shoppers’ emotions and insecurities when shopping online. Don’t be fooled. 

Here is what to look for – and be suspicious of:

  • Notices that a product is nearly sold-out.
  • Timers that limit the time a product can stay in your shopping cart.
  • Messages that suggest there is high demand for an item in your shopping cart.
  • Countdown timers that restart when your refresh the webpage. 

Discover More Tricks and Tactics Designed to Get You to Spend More

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Avoiding Unhappy Returns

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Returning Merchandise Bought Online or In the Store

The best way to avoid an unhappy return experience - wherever you shop - is to find out what the merchant's return policy is before you make a purchase.  Look for a posted return policy at the cash register or in the customer service area, or ask a store clerk. 

Online shoppers should scrutinize a merchant's website to determine whether returns are allowed and, if so, what a consumer must do to return an item.  If the information is not posted on store's website, you should be cautious about proceeding with your purchase.  If you decide to proceed, you should first contact the merchant and ask for the return information in writing.  In either case, be sure to print and retain the return information (along with all receipts, packing slips, and other documentation).

The tips listed below regarding online sales generally apply to traditional retail store sales as well. You should find out:

  • Does the retailer allow returns?  If so, what is the timeframe in which the return needs to be made?
  • Do you need a receipt or gift receipt to return an item?
  • Will you receive a refund for the item returned, or will the merchant only give you a store credit toward future purchases?  If you are returning your item with a gift receipt, some merchants will not provide a refund, but instead will give you a store credit for the original purchase value of that item.

Review More Tips Before You Purchase

Contract Cancellation

Michigan's Cancellation Laws

Many people incorrectly assume they have a right to cancel any contract. They may also think they can return an item, no questions asked, for their money back.

General Principle: You do not have a right to cancel most contracts.

If the item was defective, damaged, or not delivered:

  • You may be able to ask for your money back; and 
  • Merchants who offer a “money-back guarantee” must live up to that promise. 

If items or services were provided:

  • You most likely won’t be able to ask for your money back; and
  • You most likely won’t be able to cancel the contract. 

If a seller isn’t required by law to cancel a contract but does, they can pass on reasonable cancellation costs to you, the buyer. The contract may provide the amount you must pay if you cancel the contract. This is known as “liquidated damages.” A term fixing unreasonably large liquidated damages is likely void as a penalty.

Learn What to Do if Your Transaction is Covered by a Cancellation Rule

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