1 consumer . PROTECTION . guide P R E PA R E D B Y T H E M I C H I G A N L E G I S L AT U R E. Dear Friend: In today's complex marketplace we, as consumers, often run into problems. The questions are: What do you do about them? What are your legal rights as a consumer ? Who do you turn to for help? Where do you find needed information? How do you protect yourself against fraud? This book was created to answer those and other consumer questions. It also lists federal, state, county, and local agencies and consumer and business organizations that offer services, advice, and assistance for consumers. These agencies and organizations can provide you with valuable information and also assist you with any consumer -related problem you may have. Please feel free to contact them. Being a knowledgeable consumer is your first line of defense against fraud. Read this book and be an informed consumer !
2 Table of Contents consumer Rights/ PROTECTION How to 3. You Can Protect 4. Taking Legal 5. Michigan consumer PROTECTION 8. Checking Account/Deposit 12. Your Rights as a Utility Customer in 14. Health Insurance 17. Home Improvement Programs Home Improvement 18. Home Equity 23. Mortgage 25. 27. Automobile Insurance/Repair guide to No-Fault Insurance in 28. Auto Repair Rights and the Auto Lemon 34. Buying a 38. consumer Credit Loan Credit Repair 44. consumer 46. consumer Sales Mail Order 49. Unwanted Phone 51. Contracts and 52. 54. Agency 55. Prepared by the Michigan Legislature This information is provided free to Michigan citizens and is not for reproduction for resale or profit. This information was accurate at the time of printing. (Rev. 4/2017) 1. Whatever Preface With the growing consumer movement in Michigan , there has been an increase in the number of requests from citizens for informa.
3 Tion about consumer rights under Michigan law. This consumer PROTECTION Resource guide describes some common frauds, how to avoid them, and what to do if you think someone has deceived you. A directory of agencies at the local, state, and national levels is provided at the end of this publication for convenient reference. An alert and knowl . edge . able consumer is the best PROTECTION against fraud and deception. Keep this booklet handy. Refer to it when you or your friends need help. If you have any further questions concerning this informa tion or other consumer issues, please contact: The Attorney General consumer PROTECTION Division Box 30213. Lansing, MI 48909. (517) 373-1140 or Toll-Free (877) 241-3771. 2 consumer Rights/ PROTECTION How to Complain WHY COMPLAIN? SAMPLE LETTER. It is your right to complain to a business when Your Address you have a consumer problem; it's also your City, State, Zip code responsibility.
4 Complaining is never easy but many Date businesses appreciate hearing from customers on how Complaint Department they can improve their services. After all, if you're not Name of Company or Organization happy with their products or services, chances are that Address other customers have encountered the same problem. City, State, Zip code Here's an action plan to use for resolving a service Dear Sir or Madam: complaint. I am writing about .. (describe the product, including serial and model number, services, issue, GATHER YOUR INFORMATION law, or event). 1. Write down exactly what happened: I believe the product to be defective because what created the problem; .. (describe problem briefly and accurately including who you have talked with already; dates, where purchased, etc.). when the problem occurred; Enclosed please find .. (send photocopies of bills, where the problem happened.)
5 Contracts, canceled checks, etc.). I would like to .. (describe what you want 2. Decide what compensation you expect for the done refund, exchange, repair, investigation, or problem. explanation, etc.). You could request a refund, exchange, credit, or I thought you would like to know of my just an apology. dissatisfaction and .. (state previous efforts and identify 3. Gather all relevant receipts and documents: consumer PROTECTION agency to whom you are include all records of phone calls and other sending a copy of this letter). conversations; I look forward to your reply explaining the action record the date and time of every contact made; you are taking on my problem. photocopy any contracts, warranties, receipts, and Sincerely, canceled checks. Your Name CONTACT THE MANAGER WHAT IF THEY DON'T RESPOND? If your contact with the local business is not OF THE BUSINESS successful, you may have to contact a regional or Contact the manager as soon as possible after the national office to get results.
6 Use the same steps when problem arises. A delay may jeopardize your contacting these offices and include documentation of ability to enforce your rights. your contacts with the local business. If the business is Telephoning is often not as effective as a personal not part of a larger chain, you should contact a local consumer PROTECTION agency. visit or a letter. Whatever method you choose, remember to document the contact. You may also want to contact a local consumer PROTECTION agency if you feel you are waiting too long If you are nervous about talking to the manager, for the business to react. If your area doesn't have a bring a friend. Your friend may help you feel local agency, contact: more comfortable and can also serve as a witness The Attorney General . to the discussion. consumer PROTECTION Division If visiting the store is inconvenient, write a letter Box 30213.
7 And keep a copy for yourself. The following is a Lansing, MI 48909. sample complaint letter to assist you in writing Telephone (517) 373-1140 or to the store owner or manager. Toll-Free (877) 765-8388 3. You Can Protect Yourself Michigan 's Attorney General estimates that DO. Michigan citizens are bilked out of millions of dollars each year through: 1. Read and understand all papers before you sign them. Inferior products;. 2. Buy only from reputable businesspersons. Overpricing;. 3. Avoid using credit if you can. Exorbitantly high interest rates;. 4. Be skeptical of many advertising claims. Unneeded products or services. 5. Take the time to investigate. These are only a few of the many areas to watch in your business dealings. 6. Consult with others. 7. Ask for and check references. LEARN THESE FIVE WARNING SIGNS. 1. An offer of something for nothing.
8 DON'T. 2. Salespersons who run down another's product. 1. Pay until you're sure. 3. Pressure to sign immediately. 2. Sign anything until you've slept on it.. 4. Offer of kickbacks for referring sales prospects 3. Buy without comparing prices from other or for signing other people to the program. sources. 5. A businessperson who doesn't tell his or her business address. 4 Taking Legal Action If you feel an individual or a business has treated had $500 damage to your car which was not paid you unfairly and you believe they owe you money or under your auto insur ance, and the other driver was satisfaction, there is something you can do about it. 80 percent at fault, you could be awarded $400. Acting on your own behalf, without the expense of an ($500 x 80% = $400). All mini-tort cases must be attorney, you can sue in small claims court for damages started in the small claims court, but like other small up to $5,000 per Public Act 142 of 2012.
9 This amount claims cases, you can be moved to a higher court upon will increase to $5,500 in 2015, $6,000 in 2018, $6,500 request. (More information about mini-tort is in 2021 and $7,000 in 2024. The following information available from the Department of Insurance and outlines the procedures you will need to know. Financial Services, toll-free at 1-877-999-6442.). WHAT IS SMALL CLAIMS COURT? DO I NEED A LAWYER? The small claims court was established in 1968 as a You do not need to know anything about the division of the district court system. Its purpose is to law to bring a suit in small claims court. Since lawyers provide a court to be used by people without the aid aren't allowed to argue cases for clients, you don't of attorneys to settle only monetary disputes of $5,000 need a lawyer. You simply state your case in your or less, or to acquire some type of fair settlement and own words.
10 After both sides have been heard, the to resolve disputes quickly and inexpensively. judge decides who is right. WHAT ACTIONS MAY BE BROUGHT CAN I APPEAL THE CASE? If you win the case, the defendant must com ply TO SMALL CLAIMS COURT? with the judge's ruling. It's important to remem ber Let's say you contract with a home improve ment that the judge's decision is final in small claims court. firm to do work on your home and the work doesn't It cannot be appealed to a higher court. You have the meet the standards promised by the salesperson or the right to use this court. It's not complicated or contract. You can take the firm to small claims court to expensive. Here's how to go about it. recover the amount you overpaid. Perhaps you've moved from a house or apartment HOW TO START YOUR LAWSUIT. you rented and the landlord won't return your security File a claim deposit.