Contracts, Cancellations & Refunds

To form a contract in New York, one person must make an offer and the other person must accept it. Then, they must agree to exchange something of value, such as money, goods or services. If the value of the contract is more than $500, the contract must be in writing. If it is not in writing, it may not be enforceable. But an oral contract may be enforceable in certain situations. For instance, if the parties have already performed all or part of the contract, it may be enforceable. Or, if one party has already received the benefit of the contract, it may be enforceable.  

If you get “buyer’s remorse” and want to cancel the contract, you may not be able to do so. In general, New York does not have a “cooling-off” period. A cooling-off period is where you can change your mind and cancel the contract. For most types of sales, you cannot cancel if you later change your mind. Sometimes a seller will tell you that there is a cooling-off period even when there is not. They do this to try to get you to buy the product or service right away. You should check the laws before entering into any the contract. This is especially true if you are unsure whether you want, need, or can afford the product or services. There are “cooling-off” periods for certain products and services.  

Under federal law, you have three days to cancel the following contracts: 

  • Door-to-door sales contracts for more than $25.00; 
  • Home improvement loans; 
  • Contracts for more than $25.00 that is not made at the seller’s normal place of business.  

Under New York law, you have three days to cancel the following contracts: 

  • Health club memberships; 
  • Home improvement contracts; 
  • Telephone sales contracts; 
  • Campground membership contracts; 
  • Dating service contracts; 
  • Home food service plans; 
  • Credit service contracts; and 
  • Door-to-door sales contracts. 

You do not have a right to a cash refund if you return a product, although many stores do offer refunds and exchanges. Sellers that offer cash refunds must post a written return policy. They also must refund your money within 20 days. In certain situations, stores must give cash refunds, even if they have a “no cash refund” policy. If the product is defective, consumer protection laws may give you the right to a cash refund. The same is true if the seller engaged in false advertising.  

Legal Editors: Mark Grossman, Esq. and C. Jaye Berger, Esq., May 2018 

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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