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Shopper Alert: Division of Shopper Safety Assists Shoppers in Recouping Practically $three Million in 2020 Tied to COVID-19 Associated Complaints

Division of Shopper Safety Assisted Practically 32,000 NYers With a Number of COVID-19 Associated Complaints

Nationwide Shopper Safety Week (NCPW) Takes Place February 28 – March 6

NCPW Helps Shoppers Perceive Rights & Sources Obtainable

To kick off Nationwide Shopper Safety Week, the New York State Division of Shopper Safety (DCP) at present introduced it assisted 31,689 New Yorkers with a wide range of client safety issues associated to COVID-19 in 2020, leading to a document $2,831,400 being returned to shoppers wallets.

Annually throughout the first full week of March, DCP celebrates Nationwide Shopper Safety Week (NCPW) to assist people perceive their client rights and the sources out there that assist defend them. As a part of this yr’s NCPW, DCP will host two free digital webinars that includes client safety associated matters. The primary, Stop and Defend from Id Theft, is scheduled for March 2 at 1pm. Register to take part right here. The second, Savvy Buying Ideas for Sensible Shoppers, is scheduled for March Four at 6pm. Register to take part right here.

“COVID-19 has introduced many adjustments to {the marketplace} and the Division of Shopper Safety has labored arduous over the previous yr to assist shoppers navigate uncharted territory,” mentioned Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. “As a part of the Nationwide Shopper Safety Week, we’re highlighting that in at present’s amplified digital world, shoppers should take precautions to guard themselves from nefarious actors preying on the weak. I encourage all New Yorkers to take these sensible steps outlined by the Division of Shopper Safety to guard their hard-earned cash.”

The COVID-19 pandemic led to an increase in client safety points that brought about havoc within the lives of many as companies and markets have been disrupted. Three out of the highest 5 criticism classes in 2020 have been direct outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic: journey interruptions and cancellations, leisure cancellations and refunds, and different COVID-19-related points, equivalent to supply delays, order cancellations, and gymnasium membership charges. DCP performed a central function in guaranteeing the welfare of New York shoppers as extra fraudsters took benefit of the challenges surrounding the pandemic.

New Yorker’s high 5 client complaints in 2020, together with tricks to defend shoppers, are under:

  • Journey interruptions and cancellations resulting from COVID-19. DCP acquired 540 complaints on associated points together with: cancelled or rescheduled air journey, resort rooms, rental automobiles, cruise reservations, and extra. When making journey plans, shoppers ought to:
    • Pay cautious consideration to cancellation and refund insurance policies. Typically, reservations are provided with refundable and non-refundable charges. Paying a little bit extra for a refundable fee might prevent a whole lot or hundreds of {dollars} if you end up needing to cancel.
    • Contemplate journey insurance coverage, however fastidiously overview the phrases and situations, particularly what the insurance coverage does and doesn’t cowl. Some journey insurance coverage insurance policies provide solely partial refunds or restrict protection for excessive circumstances.
    • Pay for tickets and reservations with a bank card. Some bank cards provide extra protections within the occasion of cancellations or whereas touring. You may additionally have the choice of disputing a cost if an organization refuses to challenge a due refund.
  • Leisure cancellations and refunds resulting from COVID-19. DCP acquired 382 complaints on associated points together with: cancelled tour reservations; live performance, theater and sporting occasion tickets; reception deposits and extra. When shopping for tickets or making occasion reservations, shoppers ought to:
  • Evaluation the contract fastidiously. When reserving a reception or occasion area, be sure that the contract is evident about what occurs to your deposit and any cash paid if the occasion should be cancelled or rescheduled, together with provisions for cancellations by the seller or forces out of your management.
  • Pay cautious consideration to refund insurance policies. If buying tickets, you should definitely perceive the vendor’s coverage if the occasion is postponed or cancelled.
  • Know your rights. In NYS, ticket sellers are required to refund the price of the ticket if the occasion is cancelled. This is applicable solely to occasion cancellations, so discover out from the vendor what their coverage is that if the occasion is postponed.
  • Miscellaneous market issues resulting from COVID-19. DCP acquired 662 complaints on associated points together with: supply delays, order cancellations, gymnasium membership charges, PPE charges, spa packages, tuition charges, and extra. Shoppers ought to:
  • Count on supply inside 30 days. New Yorkers are shopping for extra on-line, and transport dates could also be delayed as a result of elevated demand. If an merchandise is just not delivered inside 30 days in New York and there’s no consent to an extension, shoppers are entitled to a full refund.
  • Know your rights. NYS regulation doesn’t enable a well being membership to cost dues or assess charges when the companies for which members are paying are now not being supplied via no fault of the members. Members have the suitable to cancel or freeze their memberships with out paying any charges or offering advance discover.
  • Know your credit score report. Reviewing your credit score report can provide you with a warning to new accounts being opened or present accounts being despatched to collections – usually earlier than you obtain a direct invoice. Receive a free copy of your credit score report yearly from annualcreditreport.com. By means of April 2021, a duplicate is out there to you weekly.
  • Refunds and Retailer Insurance policies. DCP acquired 564 complaints on associated points together with: return insurance policies, restocking charges, refunds for broken/undelivered items, and extra. Shoppers ought to:
  • Ask about refund insurance policies. Shops should present their refund insurance policies on request. Ask whether or not the shop imposes a restocking payment for returned merchandise or if the merchandise should be in a sure situation for the return to be accepted.
  • Know your rights. In NYS, retailers should put up their refund insurance policies. If they don’t, shoppers can request a full refund or retailer credit score inside 30 days.
  • Save all receipts for purchases to permit for ease of returns.
  • Web and On-line Companies. DCP acquired 425 complaints on associated points together with: inaccurate fees, billing, high quality of products/companies, and extra. Shoppers needs to be conscious:
  • On-line is not any excuse. On-line firms should observe the identical legal guidelines as bodily, “brick-and-mortar” shops. For example, they need to put up their refund insurance policies and take away recalled items from sale.
  • Test on automated contract renewals. It’s now unlawful in New York State to proceed charging somebody for a web based service with out providing a straightforward approach to additionally cancel the service on-line.
  • Watch out for scams. With the rise of on-line procuring and transport, scammers are establishing store on social media and on-line marketplaces. If a deal seems to be “too good to be true,” it in all probability is. Search for retailers with posted insurance policies and legit rankings. Do a fast internet search on the corporate title and “rip-off” to see if damaging critiques are posted wherever.

This yr marks the ten-year anniversary since Governor Andrew M. Cuomo established the New York State Division of Shopper Safety inside the Division of State on April 1, 2011 with the mission to help, defend, educate and signify shoppers in an ever-changing economic system. The Division of Shopper Safety works arduous to help people aggrieved within the market via its criticism mediation efforts, together with educating the general public on market scams, and advocating shoppers’ curiosity earlier than legislative and regulatory our bodies.

The New York State Division of Shopper Safety serves to coach, help and empower the State’s shoppers. Shoppers can file a criticism with the Division of Shopper Safety at www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection. For extra client safety data, name the DCP Helpline at 800-697-1220, Monday via Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm or go to the DCP web site at www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection. The Division can be reached by way of Twitter at @NYSConsumer or Fb at www.fb.com/nysconsumer.



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