What can a buyer do if I do not comply with the Home Solicitation Sales Act?
If a buyer validly cancels a home solicitation sale and the seller rails to return any goods traded in by the buyer, the buyer may elect to file suit to recover an amount equal to the trade-in allowance stated in the agreement. Until the seller complies with the Act by doing all the ten day requirements stated above, the buyer may retain any and all goods delivered to him by the seller and has a lien on such goods in his possession or control for any recovery to which he is entitled.
What rights do I have if a buyer cancels a sale?
Within a reasonable time after a home solicitation sale has been cancelled or an offer to purchase has been revoked, you may demand that the buyer make available to you any goods delivered by you or caused to be delivered by you pursuant to the sale. The goods must be in the same quantity as when delivered and not subjected to unreasonable wear or use. The buyer is not obligated to make the goods available at any location other than his residence. If the buyer makes the goods available to the seller and the seller fails to pick them up within twenty days of the buyer’s notice of cancellation, the goods become the property of the buyer without obligation to pay for them. The buyer must take reasonable care of the goods in his possession before cancellation and twenty days thereafter.
What else can happen if I do not comply with the Act?
A violation of the Act also constitutes a deceptive act or practice in connection with a consumer transaction in violation of the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act, Ohio Revised Code §1345.01 to §1345.13. The Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act provides that in the event of a violation, a buyer may either: 1) rescind (cancel) the transaction within a reasonable time; or 2) recover actual economic damages (the amount of actual loss) or $200, whichever is greater, and up to $5,000.00 for non-economic damages (damages for intangible loss such as emotional damage). If the deceptive act or practice has already been determined by the Ohio Attorney General or be deceptive (which violations of the Act have been), the buyer can recover three times their actual economic damages. The buyer can also recover his/her attorney fees if the violation of the act was committed by the seller “knowingly,” which means the seller intentionally committed the act that constituted the violation and NOT that the seller knew that the act that constituted the violation was illegal. However, a seller can also recover attorney fees if a buyer files suit against the seller that is in groundless or in bad faith (for a bad purpose).
If you receive a lawsuit for violation of the Act, you may have the right to make an offer to cure the problem, which are subject to a number of technical requirements and deadlines. If you are served with any lawsuit, seek legal advice immediately so that you can ensure that you do not miss any deadlines.
A violation of the act is also a minor misdemeanor criminal offense, which is currently punishable by a fine of up to $150.00 and court costs. A court also has the power to order restitution, which means a buyer’s actual economic loss. Although it is probably not prosecuted often, an informed buyer may report a violation to the local authorities and it could result in charges being brought against you.