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Test Your Consumer Knowledge
How savvy a consumer are you? Take this quick quiz to see if you can choose the best course of action in these common scenarios.
buy a computer and a week later it malfunctions. The computer store says
it only accepts returns within five days of the sale, and that you'll
have to deal with the manufacturer. Is the store correct?
phone bill shows a charge for a paging service. You don't have a pager.
you move out of your apartment, the landlord says he is keeping your security
deposit. He can do this if:
call a company who advertises guaranteed loans, even for people with bad
credit. The representative approves you for the loan over the phone and
says you need to send a processing fee by overnight courier. You should:
you have a coupon for an oil change, you take your car to a new repair
shop. The mechanic says you should have your water pump replaced for $300.
6. A friend
asks you to sign up as a distributor for an organization that sells water
filters and nutritional supplements. You should ask:
ask your doctor for a copy of your medical record. His office says there
will be a charge for photocopying. You should:
8. A caller
who says she is a representative of your bank tells you she needs some
information to set up security safeguards for your account. You should:
1. a. If you purchase a defective item, the seller must replace it or refund your money regardless of its return policy. All purchases, except used cars that are more than six years old, have been driven more than 60,000 miles, and are sold "as is," are covered by an implied warranty that goods are in operating condition and will continue to work for a reasonable period of time. Even when an item is covered by a manufacturer's warranty, you can insist that the retailer give you a replacement or refund.
2. c. You do not have to pay for services you did not authorize. Your phone service will not be disconnected while you are disputing the charge.
3. b. and c. Landlords may withhold security deposits to pay for damages the tenant has made to the apartment, but not to pay for painting or repairs due to ordinary wear and tear. You have the right to be present when the landlord inspects your apartment for damages at the end of your lease. If you broke your lease, and the landlord is not able to find another tenant for the remainder of your lease, the landlord is allowed to keep your security deposit to make up for his loss.
4. c. Being asked to send a fee in advance, by courier, is a tip-off to a common scam. The consumer sends the fee but the loan never arrives. Legitimate lenders never "guarantee" or say you are likely to get a loan before you apply, especially if you have bad credit, and never ask you to pay a processing fee in advance.
5. b. It is always a good idea to get a second opinion for major repairs, especially if the first estimate comes from a mechanic you haven't dealt with before. Although it takes extra time, it can save you from spending a lot of money on a misdiagnosed problem--or a completely unnecessary repair.
6. a, b and c. A business in which salespeople earn their commissions primarily from recruiting other salespeople, rather than selling a product, is a pyramid scheme. Often, pyramid schemes market products or services at prices that are higher than retail. Pyramid schemes are illegal, and people lose money when the program collapses, as it inevitably will. Maryland law requires that multi-level marketing companies offers participants at least a 90 percent refund under certain circumstances for an initial 90-day period. Some legitimate companies may offer a 100 percent refund for a longer period (if so, make sure you get that refund offer in writing). If you have a question about a multi-level marketing opportunity, call the Attorney General's Securities Division at (410) 576-7042.
7. b. Although you have the right to the information contained in your medical records, the record itself belongs to the doctor and he can ask a fee to cover retrieval and photocopying.
8. b. This sounds like a scam. Never give personal or financial information to someone you don't know. If you want to check out her story, call the bank yourself at its listed number - any number the caller gives you may be a set-up.
Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372