Be careful when you purchase goods or services. To avoid being misled or taken advantage of, follow a few simple steps:
- Before you purchase a product or service, compare it with other brands or services found in other stores or areas.
- Carefully read and compare the warranties provided.
- Read contracts carefully before you sign; know what you are signing and what obligations you are undertaking.
- Investigate the store's return policy before buying, and keep all receipts and canceled checks.
- Keep all copies of any warranties that you are given and keep a copy of any contract or agreement you sign.
- Never give out personal information such as your social security numbers or account numbers to anyone unless you are absolutely certain it is a legitimate business and someone you’re sure you want to do business with.
- Remember: companies you already do business with are not likely to contact you to “verify” this information.
- Be suspicious of all unsolicited telephone calls, mail and emails. Remember, no bank, insurance company, or other financial institution will ever ask you for personal information or information about your account via email.
- When buying online, when you check out, be sure that any Web site where you enter any credit card information is a secure site. Also, do not allow the merchant to record your credit card information.
If an item needs repairs:
- Keep an accurate record of those repairs, save receipts and make notes of important dates.
- Keep copies of any correspondence you send and document phone calls or any other attempts to correct the problem.
When you sign a contract for a service, make sure the contract includes in writing all the services you expect for the price you are paying. Do not accept the seller's oral assurances that he or she will "take care of" any problem. Remember, if a contract sounds too good to be true, it generally is. Do not sign a contract under pressure. Any reputable seller will give you the chance to review a contract carefully and think about the obligations and responsibilities imposed by the contract. Generally speaking, once you sign a contract, you are obligated. A common misconception among New Hampshire consumers is that there is a general 3-day right of rescission (or cancellation) for all retail sales contracts and that there is a right to the return of a deposit. No such general "cooling off" period exists in New Hampshire. With a few exceptions, there is no 3-day cooling off period in New Hampshire. Under state law, you have no right to rescind a contract unless the contract provides for a cancellation period, or you are dealing with a health club, home solicitation sale, credit repair organization, subdivision or condominium or some other area in which there exists a specific statutory right of cancellation. Similarly, you have no right to the return of a deposit unless the contract or a specific law permits a refund. For example, there is no statutory right to cancel the purchase of a motor vehicle and any deposit placed on a motor vehicle is not automatically refundable.
The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office has published a comprehensive New Hampshire Consumer’s Sourcebook which covers all the above issues and more. Call the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau at 1-603-271-3641 or 1-888-468-4454 (toll free) or get a free copy on their website.