The Federal Trade Commission has adopted a final rule amending its Cooling-Off Rule to exclude the Rule’s coverage of door-to-door sales of consumer goods or services with a purchase price of $130 or more that are made at locations other than the buyer’s residence. The exclusionary limit for door-to-door sales made at the buyer’s residence continues to be $25 or more. The final rule takes effect on March 13, 2015. 

For purposes of the Cooling-Off Rule, a “door-to-door sale” is a sale, lease, or rental of consumer goods or services in which the seller personally solicits the sale and the buyer agrees to make the purchase at a place other than the seller’s place of business. In addition to a sale at a consumer’s home, a door-to-door sale includes a sale at a rented facility, such as a hotel room or convention center, or at the buyer’s workplace or dormitory lounge. The Rule requires sellers in covered sales to provide buyers with a completed receipt or copy of the sales contract containing a summary notice of the right to cancel the purchase within three business days, as well as duplicate copies of a completed cancellation notice.

In 2012, after completing a regulatory review of the Cooling-Off Rule, the FTC announced its decision to retain the Rule but sought comment on a proposed increase in the exclusionary amount for all door-to-door sales to $130. As explained by the FTC in the Supplementary Information accompanying the amendment, it found that retention of the $25 limit for sales made at a buyer’s residence “is warranted to prevent the types of unfair and deceptive practices that gave rise to the Rule, and that an inflationary adjustment with respect to in-home sales would leave consumers without adequate protection under the Rule.” However, because it did not perceive “the same level of concerns about problematic practices when sales are made at other locations,” the FTC concluded that increasing the exclusionary limit to $130 for sales made away from a consumer’s residence “would reduce compliance burdens for sellers of lower cost goods, while continuing to provide consumers with the Rule’s protections for higher-dollar value purchases.” 

The FTC also noted in the Supplementary Information that the Rule does not expressly address electronic methods by which a seller can comply with the Rule’s receipt and notice requirement and comments that “whether and how other laws, such as [ESIGN], may provide electronic means” to meet the requirement “would depend on a case-by-case analysis of the specific legal and factual circumstances.” In addition, the FTC indicated in the Supplementary Information that state cooling-off laws would not be deemed “directly inconsistent” with the Rule based on their having a lower exclusionary limit or no exclusionary limit and therefore would not be preempted.

Ballard Spahr's Consumer Financial Services Group is nationally recognized for its guidance in structuring and documenting new consumer financial services products, its experience with the full range of federal and state consumer credit laws, and its skill in litigation defense and avoidance.

For more information, please contact CFS Practice Leader Alan S. Kaplinsky at 215.864.8544 or kaplinsky@ballardspahr.com, CFS Practice Leader Jeremy T. Rosenblum at 215.864.8505 or rosenblum@ballardspahr.com, John L. Culhane, Jr., at 215.864.8535 or culhane@ballardspahr.com, or Mark J. Furletti at 215.864.8138 or furlettim@ballardspahr.com.

 


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This alert is a periodic publication of Ballard Spahr LLP and is intended to notify recipients of new developments in the law. It should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own attorney concerning your situation and specific legal questions you have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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