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It is a very common misconception, and one that our Office receives many questions about, that a cooling-off period exists for any purchase a consumer makes.  A cooling-off period is a certain amount of time, usually three days, where a contract can be redacted without reason.  You may decide you simply don’t want the product or service you signed up for. However, in Massachusetts, it is important to note that cooling-off periods only apply in limited instances.

  1. Door-to-door sales: If you make a purchase of goods or services for over $25 at a place other than a merchant’s usual place of business, you have three days to cancel the contract.  This does not include purchases made completely online, by mail or phone.  It also does not apply to sales for emergency home repairs, or for real estate, insurance or securities.

To cancel the contract, you must notify the seller in writing no later than midnight of the third business day after you signed the contract.  The seller must return your payment within ten business days after receipt of your cancellation notice.  You must allow the seller to pick up the goods at your house, or if the seller requests and you agree, you may ship them at the seller’s expense and risk.

  1. Health club contracts: You also have three business days to cancel a health club contract no matter where it was signed.  Health spas, sports clubs, weight control centers, and martial arts schools are all considered health clubs.

The health club must include a notice of your right to cancel in the written contract.  Deliver or mail your written notice to the club within three business days of signing the contract.  The club must refund your money within 15 business days of receiving your letter.

  1. Time shares: You have three days to cancel a contract for a time share.

Send a notice of cancellation to the seller no later than three business days after signing the contract.  If you paid by check, a refund must be made immediately, as long as the check was not yet deposited into the seller’s account.  If the check has been deposited, it must be refunded within seven days.  If you paid by credit card, a credit must be made to your account immediately.

  1. Credit Repair and Services Organizations: You may cancel the contract until midnight of the third business day after signing it.  Your payment must be returned within ten days of the organization receiving your cancellation notice.

To be sure the seller received your cancellation notice we suggest you send the notice by certified mail.  And remember, if you buy a good at the retailer’s store or on the internet there is no cooling-off period.

 Aside from these outliers, any other signed contract in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is considered obligatory and final, unless otherwise disclosed by the contract provider. For more information about cooling-off periods, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0176-buyers-remorse-when-ftcs-cooling-rule-may-help.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s vehicular and customized wheelchair Lemon Laws and Arbitration Programs, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the MA Do Not Call Registry.

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