Many products and services are provided through door-to-door sales or are sold outside a normal retail environment. Some products are ONLY sold this way, such as Avon products. Because many of these companies have well-known reputations, you can benefit from the convenience of shopping at home and from having the opportunity to see or try the product in your home before you buy it. Nevertheless, one disadvantage of buying from a door-to-door salesperson is that you do not have an opportunity to comparison shop.
A New Hampshire statute (RSA 361-B:2) and federal law, through a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rule, both give consumers a "cooling off" period when they purchase goods or services in their homes worth more than $25. Except where the FTC rule and the New Hampshire statute are different, we will focus on the New Hampshire statute.
According to the New Hampshire statute, a buyer has three (3) business days to cancel a sale (called "the right to rescind") if:
What Is a Home Solicitation Sale
The New Hampshire statute describes several different kinds of sales that can be classified as a home solicitation sale.
Example: Salesperson T.P. Vindar goes to Sam Byer's house and gets Byer to order a $50 set of TryChron Dough sauce pans. Vindar does not have the pans with her so Byer fills out forms to send to the TryChron warehouse to order the pans. Byer has 3 days to cancel the transaction and to demand a full refund.
Example: Ace sales maker T.P. Vindar telephones Jim Goodscout at home to sell him a fabulous coupon book good for "hundreds" of dollars of discounts at "hundreds" of local merchants for $30. Jim agrees to buy the book, and after he hangs up the telephone, Vindar sends her employee to Goodscout's house to deliver the book and pick up a check for $30. A home solicitation sale within the meaning of the statute has probably occurred here because the sale was "consummated" (money changed hands) at Goodscout's home.
What Is Not a Home Solicitation
Neither New Hampshire law nor federal law may cover a situation where you seek out a service or product in the seller's normal place of business, negotiate the terms of the sale there, but complete the sale at home. The FTC rule does not cover such sales, and a New Hampshire seller might successfully argue that the New Hampshire statute does not apply either.
Example: Hank and Helen Whitebread go to the Miracle Kitchens Showroom to price new kitchen cabinets and appliances. While there, they discuss having Miracle Kitchens install the cabinets and appliances for them. Miracle Kitchens sends its salesperson to the Whitebreads' home to measure the kitchen and quote a final price. A court might find that the FTC rule does not cover this transaction. However, if Miracle Kitchens sold additional services or appliances at the Whitebreads' home, the result might be different.
What Information Must Be in the Home Solicitation Sales Contract
The buyer must receive the following information in a home sales contract:
Any buyer may cancel this transaction any time prior to midnight of the third business day after the date of this transaction.
The seller must furnish the buyer with either a written receipt or contract at the time of the transaction. The writing must be in the same language that was used for the oral sales presentation. (For example, if the sales presentation was in French, then the contract or receipt must also be written in French.) If the salesperson fails to provide the contract or receipt, the buyer has the right to cancel the contract at any time until a copy of the contract is finally provided. In other words, the three-day right to rescind renews itself until the seller complies with the notification conditions of the law.
Example: A door-to-door sale is "consummated" on Friday, December 24. In deciding when the right to cancel ends, the day of the transaction is not counted because the count starts "after the date" of the sale. Assuming that Saturday, December 25 is a holiday, and Sunday, December 26 is not a "business day," the first day "after the date of" the sale would be Monday, December 27, and the buyer could cancel at any time until 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, December 29.
The term "business day" is not defined. FTC regulations state that Sundays and certain major holidays are not "business days." A business that is open on Saturdays may argue that this is one of its "business days." To be on the safe side, consumers should count Saturdays as "business days."
How Does the Buyer Cancel the Sale
Points To Remember
Where To Go If You Have A Problem
Contact the salesperson, or if that person cannot be reached, contact the company's headquarters. The seller's name and place of business must be on the contract or sales receipt.
Contact the NH Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau:
NH Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau
33 Capitol Street
Concord, NH 03301-6397
Contact the Federal Trade Commission.
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
1-877-FTC-HELP or 1-877-382-4357
Adobe Acrobat Reader format. You can download a free reader from Adobe.
New Hampshire Department of Justice | 33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301