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General Protections

Suppose you spent all of your savings on a new car – only to have it break down repeatedly. Or your new microwave oven failed to work the first day. Or the new watch given to you at your high school graduation has never told time. There are laws intended to help you – the consumer – protect yourself against unfair transactions and sales scams, or when a newly purchased product fails to work.

What are some examples of consumer protection laws?
The Federal Truth in Lending Act (15 U.S.C. §1601 et seq.) requires lenders and credit card companies to tell you in advance what costs you will – or could – be required to pay for a loan or credit card (see also NRS 97A.140; NRS 97A.145). It also gives you three business days to cancel a credit sale of more than $25 that took place in your home if you give written notice (by delivering, mailing, faxing) to the seller of your intent to rescind the sale. (See also NRS 598.230). Home solicitation contracts or offers must be written in the same language that is used in the oral sales presentation (see also NRS 598.240), and at the time of purchase, the seller must provide a fully completed form in duplicate entitled “Notice of Cancellation” in case you decide to cancel your purchase within the 3-business day time period (see also NRS 598.250).

Are you tired of telemarketers calling you at home?
You can register your personal cell phone and home phone numbers with the “Do Not Call Registry” by calling 1-888-382-1222 toll-free or by visiting www.ftc.gov or by visiting www.donotcall.gov. The Nevada Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Protection Unit, also has a “Do Not Call” registry, enacted under the Telecommunication Solicitation Act (see NRS 228.500 et seq.), which prohibits most telemarketers from making unsolicited calls for the sale of goods or services to your telephone number provided that you have listed your number with the national Do Not Call registry. If you have registered with the national Do Not Call registry, you do not need to register again to be covered by Nevada’s Do Not Call registry. For additional information about Nevada’s Do Not Call registry, go to: http://ag.state.nv.us/org/bcp/nocall.htm

What happens if I buy a new car and it turns out to be a ‘lemon’?
Generally, there is no cooling-off or cancellation period for vehicle sales. However, if you buy a new car and it turns out to be a lemon – a car that repeatedly breaks down or has a substantial defect – you may be entitled to a replacement car or full refund. Within the period of warranty or no later than the first year after purchase (whichever occurs earlier) you must report the problem in writing to the manufacturer. NRS 597.610. If, after a reasonable number of attempts to repair the car, the manufacturer fails to satisfactorily conform the car to the express warranty, the manufacturer must replace the car with a comparable vehicle or refund your money upon your returning the car intact. NRS 597.630. You are responsible for notifying the manufacturer of any change of residential address. NRS 597.675. For further assistance with problems concerning auto repairs or purchase, you can contact the Better Business Bureau in your area, or the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Compliance Enforcement Section at (775) 684-4790.

What happens if I buy a used car and it turns out to be a ‘lemon’?
You do no have as much legal recourse if you buy a used car. However, if the odometer registers 75,000 miles or more, the dealer must conduct a reasonably thorough inspection of the vehicles engine and drivetrain. NRS 482.3666 et seq.
As of October 1, 2003, a car dealer is required to disclose whether the vehicle is a “salvage vehicle.”

What are ‘expressed’ and ‘implied’ warranties?
There are two types of consumer warranties. An ‘express warranty’ is an affirmation or promise made by the seller that the product you purchase will conform to the description of it presented at the time of the sale. An express warranty does not require that the seller use formal words such as “warrant” or “guarantee” or that the seller have a specific intention to make a warranty for the warranty to exist. NRS 104.2313.

An ‘implied warranty’ simply exists, by law, when the consumer purchases an item. In short, you have the legal right to expect that your new item will be “suitable” for what it was intended provided that you purchased the item from a reputable merchant dealing in that type of product and pursuant to the promises provided on its label. NRS 104.2314. A new watch, for example, should adequately tell time, not merely look nice on your wrist. An ‘implied warranty’ also exists if you rely on the skill or judgment of the seller to assist you in selecting a suitable product for a particular purpose. NRS 104.2315. For example, if you purchase a new pair of downhill skis from a sporting goods shop, you should be able to rely on the knowledge and assistance of the salesperson in helping you select the proper size of ski and binding for your height, size, and skiing needs.

If you buy something “as is,” however, there is no warranty and no recourse if the item turns out to be defective. NRS 104.2316(3)(a). For example, if you purchase a pair of used downhill skis at a “ski swap,” no such guarantee comes with your purchase.

Both express and implied warranties apply to whoever owns the merchandise during the warranty period and extends to any person who is in the family or household of the buyer or who is a guest in his home and reasonably uses the product. NRS 104.2318.

What if nobody will listen?

There are local, state and national agencies set up to protect you:

Local consumer agency – check your local telephone book under County Government agencies or check with the Better Business Bureau.

State of Nevada Division of Consumer Affairs
The Nevada Division of Consumer Affairs Web site (www.fyiconsumer.org) is helpful in accessing Complaint forms and retrieving the text of various Nevada statutes pertaining to consumer advocacy. You may contact them at the following addresses or telephone numbers:

Northern Nevada: 4600 Kietzke Lane, Bldg. B, Ste. 113, Reno, NV 89502 Telephone: (775) 688-1800 Or outside of Clark County, call 1-800-326-5202

State of Nevada Office of the Attorney General
The Office of the Attorney General Web site (http://ag.state.nv.us/) has a drop down menu in Consumer Education, which provides valuable information about a lot of consumer concerns, such as gas prices in Nevada, internet and e-mail scams, small claims court, and identity theft.

Federal – The Federal Trade Commission
1-877-382-4357 www.ftc.gov

Small Claims Court
You might also consider filing a claim in small claims court if your loss is $5,000 or less. NRS 73.010 et seq. Although you may consult with an attorney, in most cases you cannot recover attorney fees. NRS 73.040.

Washoe Legal Services (http://www.washoelegalservices.org/
smclaims.htm
) and
Clark County Legal Services
(http://www.clarkcountylegal.com/
index.html
) have websites that contains general information about Small Claims Court; these sites may be helpful to you even if you do not live in either of those counties.

Washoe Legal Services has a website with a good Frequently Asked Questions Section: http://www.washoelegalservices.org. Consumer Law Topics include: Car Repairs, Car Purchases, New Cars, Used Cars, Odometer Fraud, Leases Debt Collection: What Can A Bill Collector Do To Me If I Fall Behind On A Debt? Homesteading Your Home Or Mobile Home, Lose A Lawsuit? Your Rights Concerning Garnishment and Attachment, Student Loans, Truth In Lending and Predatory Lending.


This guide is an introduction to narrow topics of Nevada law. Keep in mind that federal, state and local laws are constantly subject to change. If you have a legal question or problem, you should consult an attorney.