How to Protect Yourself: The Cooling-Off Rule
Source: The Florida Attorney General's Office
There are some occasions where the law allows you to change your mind after you have made a purchase and cancel the transaction. Not all types of sales are subject to the “cooling-off” rule, and the best way to protect yourself is to take enough time when you are making a purchase to make sure you really want the item or services. If you do find yourself in a situation where you want to cancel, please consider the following:
Types of purchases subject to the cooling-off rule
In Florida, if you contract for services to be rendered in the future on a continuing basis, you are entitled to a three day cooling-off period. You are also entitled to cancel a contract for future services if you can no longer physically receive the services, or the services are no longer available as originally offered.
Likewise, if you purchase goods or services during the course of a "home solicitation sale," you maintain a three-day right to cancel. A sale is considered a "home solicitation sale" if it takes place in your home, or at a location which is not the main or permanent place of business for the seller, so long as the purchase price is more than $25.
There are certain exceptions to these general rules. If you are in doubt as to whether you have the right to cancel, you should contact consumer agencies such as the Attorney General's Office, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services or your local consumer agency.
Your cancellation rights must be provided to you in writing
The law requires both a seller of future consumer services and a home solicitation seller to provide written notice of a buyer's cancellation rights at the time of the sale. In the case of a sale of future services, the consumer's notice of cancellation rights must appear immediately next to the space for the buyer's signature on the contract. Every home solicitation seller is also required to provide a written contract to the buyer which includes an explanation of the buyer's right to cancel.
How to cancel
A sale for future services can be cancelled by the buyer by notifying the seller within three business days from the date the buyer signs the contract. There is no requirement that the notice be made in writing. However, it is a better practice for the buyer to send written notice to the seller by certified mail. Refunds for cancelled contracts for future services must be received within twenty days after the seller receives the notice of cancellation.
Cancellation of a home solicitation sale must be made in writing to the seller by no later than midnight of the third business day after the day the buyer signed the contract. A written notice sent by mail must be postmarked by no later than midnight of the third business day after the contract date. In the case of a home solicitation sale, a refund must be mailed within 10 days after the sale has been cancelled.
If you wish to file a complaint against a seller, contact the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at either (850) 488-2221 or (800) 435-7352. To obtain a copy of BestSellers - a complete listing of all consumer and business education publications from the FTC, write to: Public Reference, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580, or call (202) 326-2222 or TDD, (202) 326-2502.