Consumer Protection
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How to Protect Yourself: Electronic Equipment and Repair
Source: The Florida Attorney General's Office

Repair of your electronic equipment, including computers, televisions, radios, stereos, or VCRs, may result in significant time and expense. You should be able to minimize the time and expense involved if you know your rights, and know what the law requires of "service dealers," or the people repairing the equipment.

Repair Estimates.
You are entitled to an oral or written repair estimate upon request. The service dealer may charge you a reasonable fee for making the estimate, as long as the fee is disclosed in writing prior to preparing the estimate. Once you have the estimate, the service dealer may not charge you more that the amount of the estimate plus 10%, unless you agree. The service dealer must post a 2' x 5' sign telling you all of this, at the service area entrance.

Claim Checks.
When the service dealer takes your equipment from you at your home or place of business, you are entitled to receive a claim check describing the equipment, which advises you of the right to request a repair estimate.

Repair Invoice.
At the conclusion of the repair, you are entitled to an invoice which sets forth a statement of the total charges, an itemization of each part placed or serviced indicating the charge for each part, whether the part is new, rebuilt or reconditioned, and any service performed on parts not replaced, an itemization and description of all labor or technical services performed, and a description of all other charges.

Return of Removed Parts.
Upon request, the service dealer is required to give you the parts which were replaced, unless they must be returned to the manufacturer under a warranty agreement, the parts were replaced under a service agreement and you were not charged for them, or the part is a picture tube.

Failure to Perform Repairs.
If the first attempt to repair the equipment does not succeed, the service dealer must attempt again to repair it at no additional charge, unless you were specifically told that the work was not guaranteed.

Prohibited Practices.
A service dealer may not charge for repairs which you have not authorized, represent that repairs have been made when they have not, represent that certain repairs are necessary when they are not, represent that continuing to use the equipment may be dangerous or may ruin the equipment when it will not, make any statement which is misleading, disregard accepted trade standards for goods and workmanlike repair, make false promises to try to persuade you to authorize a repair or service, substitute rebuilt, uses or reconditioned parts for new ones, without your knowledge, or fail to adhere to safety standards.

False Charges for Radio and Television Repair.
It is a crime to knowingly charge for services which are not actually performed in repairing a radio or television, or to charge for parts not actually furnished, or to knowingly misinform a consumer about what is wrong with his radio or television, or to knowingly substitute parts which do not relate to the repair.

Disposition of Unclaimed Electronic Equipment.
If you do not claim your equipment within one year of the date you left it for repair, the service dealer may sell it to pay for repairs and expenses, if you were given written notice when you took the equipment in that it would be sold after a year. The service dealer must give you notice by mail 15 days prior to the sale that the equipment will be sold. In any event, the service dealer can keep only the amount of the proceeds equal to his costs and expenses, and must send you the rest within 15 after the sale.

Find Out First.
If you wish to check on the complaint record of any electronic repair store, call the local Better Business Bureau. You may also contact the manufacturer of the equipment in order to locate the nearest authorized service dealer for that particular item.