November 22, 2010 – Raleigh - North Carolinians can protect themselves from many unwise buys thanks to the three-day right to cancel, Attorney General Roy Cooper reminded consumers today. A South Carolina air duct cleaner is the fifth company that Cooper’s office has taken action against this year for failing to inform North Carolina consumers of their right to cancel certain purchases.
Southeastern Air Restoration, which Cooper says pressured consumers into paying thousands of dollars for duct cleaning work and failed to inform them of their right to cancel any contract they signed with the company, recently agreed to pay refunds and clean up its practices.
Under North Carolina law, consumers have three days to cancel most purchases made at a location other than the seller’s usual place of business. This includes sales made at consumers’ homes, such as those made by Southeastern Air Restoration.
“The right to cancel can save you from a hasty decision or a high-pressure sales pitch,” Cooper said. “Learn about your three-day right to cancel to avoid getting stuck paying for something you don’t really want or need.”
State law gives consumers three days to cancel any sale of goods or services that takes place at a location that is not the seller’s normal place of business, except for:
- Sales of less than $25
- Sales made entirely over the telephone or through the mail
- Sales or rentals of real estate
- Sales of insurance or securities
- Sales made after negotiations at the seller’s normal place of business or permanent retail shop
The case against Southeastern Air Restoration is the fifth case that the Attorney General has resolved this year involving companies that the Consumer Protection Division found were failing to honor consumers’ three-day right to cancel certain purchases. Previous cases involved Window Pros of Hickory, H.A.R.D. Top Paving, Tommy Clack, and Platinum Paving. With each of these companies, a high percentage of the victims were seniors.
To resolve the latest case, Cooper’s office has reached an agreement with Chris Staley of Columbia, South Carolina and Kingdom Connection Investments, which has done business in North Carolina as Southeastern Air Restoration. The settlement agreement bars Staley, his company and employees from home improvement or in-home sales in North Carolina unless they follow all applicable state and local laws.
Southeastern Air Restoration will pay a total of $22,000 in monthly installments for refunds to consumers and to cover the costs of the case. The defendants must also notify consumers of their three-day right to cancel their contracts and may not start work on any job where that right applies until consumers have had the full three days to reconsider. In addition, any work performed must meet industry standards for workmanship.
Cooper’s office began investigating Southeastern Air Restoration in June of 2009 following complaints by consumers that the company was using deception and scare tactics to pitch air duct cleaning services. Many homeowners responded to advertisements that promised the company would clean home heating, ventilation and air conditioning ducts for $75.95. According to several reports from consumers, company salesmen then arrived at their homes and tried to convince them to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars more for services, often by telling frightening stories about the supposed dangers of dirty ductwork. Consumers who got talked into signing the expensive contracts say they weren’t told they had the right to cancel within three days.
Seven consumers filed complaints against Southeastern Air Restoration with the Attorney General’s Office.
“Consumers alerted us to these problems and we were able to win refunds and get the company to clean up its act, including making sure people get the full three days to rethink a purchase,” Cooper said. “If a company won’t honor your right to cancel, let my office know about it.”
See our tips on Right to Cancel to learn about other types of purchases that consumers have the right to cancel.
(NC A/G Press Release)