If you’re a California consumer, it’s essential to know your rights.
As consumers, we enter into a contract with the company whenever we purchase goods or services. This contract is governed by state and federal law. In California, there are five fundamental consumer protection laws that every Californian should know about.
The Right to Know Act
Californians have rights for the products they buy and use. The state’s Proposition 65, also known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, requires companies to provide warnings about exposure to certain chemicals that can cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. These warnings must be posted where consumers see them, such as on product labels, at the point of sale, or on store shelves. The law also prohibits companies from knowingly discharging these chemicals into drinking water sources.
The Lemon Law
The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, also known as the California Lemon Law, protects consumers who buy or lease new cars that turn out to be lemons. Under the law, a lemon is a new car with a defect or condition that substantially impairs its use, value, or safety and that is not repaired after a reasonable number of attempts by the manufacturer or dealer. You may be entitled to a refund or replacement vehicle if your car is a lemon. California’s lemon laws still protect you even if you purchased a used car (Bought Used Car with Problems? What Should I do?).
The Fair Credit Reporting Act
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law regulating credit reporting agencies and establishing guidelines for collecting and using consumer information. The FCRA also gives consumers the right to know what’s in their credit reports and the right to have inaccurate or incomplete information corrected.
Do Not Call Registry
If you’re sick of getting sales calls from telemarketers, you can sign up for the state’s Do Not Call Registry. Once your number is added to the registry, telemarketers are not allowed to call you unless they have an existing business relationship with you. You can sign up online or by calling 1-888-382-1222.
Auto Insurance Coverage
All drivers in California are required to carry auto insurance coverage. Minimum liability coverage amounts are $15,000 for injury/death to one person, $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person, and $5,000 for property damage per accident. Drivers who don’t carry auto insurance coverage can be fined and may have their license suspended.
Most retailers in California have a return policy posted prominently in their stores. By law, retailers must post their return policy in a conspicuous place and honor it as long as it’s reasonable. For example, a store may require a receipt for returns made within 30 days of purchase but may allow returns without a receipt if the item is returned within 60 days and if the customer shows identification. Stores can also set time limits for returning items such as holiday gifts; however, they must notify customers of these particular return policies at the time of purchase.
Being an informed consumer is essential no matter what state you live in, especially in California, where many laws protect consumers’ rights. Brush up on these five critical laws so you’ll know what to do if you find yourself in a sticky situation with a retailer or car dealership.