Consumers and Lemon Law

Many consumers turn to lawyer help when they have a product that continuously fails. Whether it’s a new puppy who winds up at the vet’s immediately or a motorized scooter that can’t hold a battery charge, you should be protected by state lemon laws for consumers. Sometimes the law entitles you to a refund or replacement, but doesn’t penalize the manufacturer or seller much past that. Hopefully, if enough consumers make their claims, unscrupulous businesses will close up shop and the market will be fair once again.

In states like Arkansas, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, there are lemon laws for buying puppies. For instance, in Arkansas, if you have purchased a puppy from a retail pet store or breeder, you have ten days to report that your dog has an infectious disease, congenital defect or hereditary defect. To file your claim, you must have registration papers and you may receive reimbursement of veterinary expenses up to the purchase price of the dog if your case is successful. Not all state laws are the same, however. In Pennsylvania, home to numerous puppy mills, pet owners can receive up to 50% of the cost of their dog back if the seller cannot reproduce the registration papers; owners may also get 100% of their money back or a replacement animal if their case wins. For more information on other state animal lemon laws, visit www.consumeraffairs.com.

Consumers can also protect themselves with lemon laws for computers and appliances. There are, however, certain guidelines consumers must follow to protect themselves. For instance, you should not buy appliances from obscure outlets. It’s always best to go through an established retailer, which offers better warranties. If you buy an appliance at a discount “as is,” the lemon law won’t help you. Often times, you can get attorney advice and have all lawyer fees paid for by the manufacturer when your case is won. You’ll then also be awarded a replacement item or a refund if your product is, in fact, a “lemon.”

It’s becoming more widespread to include disability devices like motorized scooters in lemon laws for disabled people. While only three states (California, Florida and Wisconsin) explicitly name these products in their consumer protection laws, other states (Illinois, Nevada, Washington, Hawaii, Oregon and Minnesota) are interested in doing the same. In Wisconsin, a 1992 “Wheelchair Lemon Law” says that a wheelchair or scooter that has been unsuccessfully repaired four or more times (or has been out of service for 30 cumulative days) is covered by law, entitling buyers to a comparable replacement or refund. California protects consumers using similar standards in the “Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act.”

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