Cases and Resources
Unit 4

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CHAPTER 22 Contracts
Elements Of a Contract Written and Oral Contracts
Minors and Contracts Illegal Contracts

Elements Of a Contract
Make sure you understand what a contract is and how a contract is formed. Read Ten Tips for Making Solid Business Agreements and Contracts. What are the key elements of a contract? In what situations do people need contracts?

Contracts are important in everyday life as well as to small businesses. Read how the elements of contracts are still very similar for individuals and for businesses.

The text gives the example of Sally and Lorenzo making an oral contract to exchange $150 for a motorcycle. Be familiar with what you should know about oral contracts and how they hold up in court.

Read a sample contract for pet puppies. What is the purpose of this contract? Does it contain all of the key elements of a contract? What other types of provisions does it have?

Minors and Contracts
You must have the legal capacity to make a contract. Generally, contracts cannot be enforced against minors. Learn what reaching the age of majority means. However, if you are an emancipated minor, you can be held to your contract.

Read Policing the Bargain. Why are there problems with minors signing contracts? What other groups are in a similar situation?

Written and Oral Contracts
Oral contracts are enforceable
, but what kinds of problems can they create? What kinds of oral contracts are not enforceable? Read about the statute of frauds. Although some oral contracts are enforceable, read why a written contract is usually better. What policy reasons are behind the statute of frauds?

Illegal Contracts
Read a definition of adhesion contracts. Although adhesion contracts can be illegal, they are usually enforceable. One example of an adhesion contract is a credit card agreement. Now, read some examples of illegal contracts and who is protected by each defense.

Revisit Policing the Bargain. What are the various types of illegal contracts? What can a court do if it thinks a contract is unconscionable?

CHAPTER 23 Warranties
Express Warranties
Implied Warranties

Express Warranties
Make sure you understand what a warranty is supposed to protect. What does the FTC have to say about warranties? What factors should you keep in mind when comparing warranties?

Read Understanding Warranties.

How can salespeople write readable warranties? What makes a warranty effective?

Read the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act or read Understanding the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. What rights does this act give consumers?

Implied Warranties
What are your implied warranty rights? When you buy something, is it automatically covered by a warranty? If so, what do those automatic warranties cover? What don't they cover?

Learn how implied warranties affect a landlord/tenant agreement to lease a place to live. What are you risking if you buy something "as is"?

Reread the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (text page 277)  or read Understanding the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. How do disclaimers and warranties interact?

Read some real disclaimers: disclaimer 1, disclaimer 2. What are the writers of these disclaimers concerned with?

CHAPTER 24 Credit
Credit Cards and Charge Accounts    What Lenders Want To Know Before Extending Credit
When Should You Use Credit? What To Do If You Are Denied Credit
The Cost Of Credit Default and Collection Practices

Credit Cards and Charge Accounts
Review the basics of credit cards and make sure you understand what each term means. Read an annual report on all credit cards during the past year. What did you learn about the different types of credit companies?

Use a site made for students to learn more about credit and how credit
companies work! For a comprehensive guide to credit, read the Consumer Handbook to Credit Protection Laws. How does credit work? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using credit?

Read Shopping with Your ATM Card. What are the various ways you can use an ATM card? What kind of safety precautions do you need to take when using one? How are they different from credit cards? How are they similar?

Read Debit Card Frequently Asked Questions. How do debit cards work? What should you do if your card is lost or stolen? How can you protect your card?

Even though computers are involved, mistakes happen. Review every bill you receive from a credit card company. You should be aware of what you are spending and if any errors appear on the bill. Understand how to deal with overcharges or errors on your bill.

Read the Fair Credit Billing Act (text page 282) in full text or in short form. What does this act accomplish?

Remember, credit card companies are running a business, and they are designed to make a profit from the customer, the debtor. Be aware of how you are paying to use a credit card and protect yourself from paying too much to use a credit card.

When Should You Use Credit?
Read Choosing and Using Credit Cards. Considering the way credit cards work, when do you think that you should use credit and when do you think you should use cash?

Credit card companies often target teenagers. Know what you are getting into when you use a credit card and be sure that you can afford the purchases that you make.

The Cost Of Credit
To understand the cost of using a credit card, make sure you understand all of the fees involved. What fees and rates should you consider when getting a credit card?

Read Choosing a Credit Card to learn how to compare annual percentage rates, fees, and other features. What are the different ways to calculate interest?

Find out how much your credit card is costing you, just to make payments on items you purchase with the card. What is the cost of your debt? What will be the cost to pay off your credit card? What is the cost of only paying the monthly minimum on the card?

Read the Truth in Lending Act (text page 287) in full text or short form. Does this act protect lenders or borrowers? Give your reasons.

What Lenders Want To Know Before Extending Credit
Read Ready, Set.....Credit . How can you check you credit record? What is a credit history? What information is on your credit report? Remember, getting your credit report is free! What if you find an error in your credit report? Learn how to correct these errors.

Read the Equal Credit Opportunity Act  or read about equal credit opportunity in general. How does this act promote equal opportunity to get credit?

What To Do If You Are Denied Credit
Although there are laws and protections to be sure that credit practices are fair, you do not have an automatic right to credit. Revisit Ready, Set.....Credit. What actions are suggested for people who have been denied credit? What are the possible reasons for being denied credit?

How is the decision made to deny someone credit? What can you do to improve your chances of receiving credit?

Read the Fair Credit Reporting Act (text page 290). What rights does this act create?

Default and Collection Practices
Many Americans experience debt, and the stress of high debts. Know the warning signs of financial trouble. If a consumer is in debt, it is important to know the debtor's rights.

Filing for bankruptcy is a serious action. What are the alternatives to filing for bankruptcy? How long will bankruptcy stay on your credit reports?

Read the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (text page 292)  and read about fair debt collection in general. What are the obligations of a debt collector? What are they not allowed to do?

Read the Wage Garnishment Act (text page 294). What is the purpose of this act?

CHAPTER 25 Deceptive Sales Practices
Door-To-Door and Telephone Sales Mail-Order Sales
Referral Sales Repairs and Estimates
Advertising and the Consumer Internet Commerce
Bait and Switch  

Door-To-Door and Telephone Sales
Educating yourself about door-to-door practices will help you tell the difference between honest and dishonest salespeople. How should you deal with door-to-door salespeople? What questions should you ask? Are you allowed to cancel an order?

Children and adolescents may go door-to-door for many purposes, such as collecting donations or selling items. How are the laws regarding minors selling door-to-door the same or different than for adults?

Get some straight talk about telemarketing. How can you protect yourself against telemarketing scams? How does telemarketing fraud often work? Who are likely targets of such scams? You better learn this stuff because swindlers are calling.

How should salespeople approach telephone sales? Read the FTC's guide for businesses about Complying With The Telemarketing Sales Rule. [2top][2list]

Referral Sales
Read the Kentucky state statute on referral sales. What types of referral sales are not allowed in that state? Read the law of one state on referral sales. Now read an explanation of the law (scroll down to the paragraph titled “Referral Sales”). What is the principle behind this state law?

Advertising and the Consumer
Read the FTC's policy statement regarding advertising substantiation. What makes an advertisement acceptable according to the FTC?

How have cigarette companies marketed their products to minors? Read Tobacco Marketing to Kids. What evidence is there that tobacco companies try to influence children? Find out what the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids is doing to help keep kids from smoking.

Read the guidelines of ethics for advertising from the Better Business Bureau. Learn how to complain when a business has violated the rules of advertising. Can't get enough? Look through the hundreds of articles about advertising organized by the University of Texas.

Bait and Switch
Protect yourself from advertising scams, like the "bait and switch" technique. Read a news article about a company prosecuted for bait and switch on the internet. Would you have fallen for this scam?

What types of pricing schemes are considered deceptive? Read FTC Guides Against Deceptive Pricing.

Mail-Order Sales
What is the proper way to conduct mail-order sales? Read A Business Guide to the Federal Trade Commission's Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule. What do direct marketers have to do to comply with the rules?

Visit the Direct Marketing Association. How can they help solve mail order disputes? What are the advantages and disadvantages of mail order sales?

Read Wanted: The Bandit In Your Mailbox. What kinds of mail should you watch out for? How can you defend yourself against mail order fraud?

Read the warning given to Texans about mail-order sales. Why do you think this warning is needed?

Repairs and Estimates
When you need something repaired, from your computer to your home, be familiar with the company or repairmen that offer to work for you.

Read these tips for getting your car repaired. Which of these tips apply to all kinds of repairs?

Consumers who feel they have been overcharged, should contact the Better Business Bureau for help.

Internet Commerce
You may be familiar with the internet, but make sure you understand all about e-commerce and safe surfing before you start. Learn about the rules of the road.

Do you receive "spam" in your mailbox? Learn about ways to fight spam on the internet.

What are the dangers of shopping online? Visit OnGuard Online, a federal government site with tips for online consumers, and Consumer Report's Guide to Shopping Online What are the pros and cons of shopping online?

CHAPTER 26 Becoming a Smart Consumer
Influences On Consumers Protecting Your Rights As A  Consumer
Federal Consumer Protection Taking Your Case To Court
State and Local Consumer Protection

Influences On Consumers
How can you avoid being influenced by advertisers when making purchases? Read The Real Deal for tips. How do advertisers try to convince you to buy their products?

The idea of influencing consumers to buy products has evolved into the field of marketing. Learn about marketing and the strategies used to successfully advertise. Next time you see an advertisement, think about which strategy is being used to grab your attention!

Federal and Consumer Protection
Read the Federal Trade Commission Act  (text pages 310, 312). What is the purpose of the FTC? What are the FTC's policies regarding advertising?

Read the FTC's Deception Policy Statement  and the FTC's Unfairness Policy Statement. How does the FTC evaluate advertisements? What makes an ad unfair or deceptive?

Read the Consumer Product Safety Act (text page 311) or read an overview. What does the Consumer Product Safety Commission do?

Read the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act. The government passed laws so that we can understand and trust the food labels on our food products. Do you read the food labels when you buy food?

Read the Americans with Disabilities Act (text page 311). How does this act help people with disabilities?

State and Local Consumer Protection
Look through this list of state and local consumer protection agencies and find the contacts for your own area. Some states have divisions of state or local government just for consumer protection. How does your state compare with others?


Protecting Your Rights As A Consumer
Read Solving Consumer Problems  and describe the different steps you should take to solve disputes with businesses. Do you think that the sample letter on this page is effective? What makes it effective/not effective?

Visit the sites of associations that help consumers: Better Business BureauNational Association of Consumer Agency AdministratorsNational Consumers League, Consumer Federation of America Foundation, and Consumer World. How do these organizations assist consumers? How are these organizations different in their approaches?

Visit the sites of federal consumer protection agencies: Federal Trade Commission, Food and Drug Administration, Consumer Product Safety Commission, U.S. Postal Service, Department of Transportation, and Federal Communications Commission. What area does each agency cover? How do the agencies help consumers? What is the importance of information in consumer protection?

Some agencies are not federal, but rather state organizations working to protect consumers. Check out the State Consumer Protection Pages, which list the current major campaigns.

Taking Your Case To Court
Read When Should You Sue?. When considering if your consumer case should go to court, consider that the perpetrator could be guilty in criminal court or liable in civil court. What should you think about before you take your case to court?

Read all about small claims court. How does small claims court work? Why types of disputes can be settled in small claims court?

Defrauding consumers is a criminal act. Learn more about the fraud section of the criminal division at the US Department of Justice.

When you file a consumer case in civil court, you must think about where to file the case. A court must have the authority to decide the issues in your case. This is called jurisdiction. For example, look at the Connecticut rule on filing a consumer transaction case.

CHAPTER 27 Cars and the Consumer
Buying a Car
Financing a Car

Buying a Car
If you are thinking about buying a car, learn about the basics before you go.The most important step to take when making a large purchase, such as buying a car, is to educate yourself. Learn how to research car and trucks through organizations like Consumer Reports.

Read about buying a new car at Nolo and at the Consumer Information Center. What concerns do you have to keep in mind when purchasing a car?

Would you prefer to buy a used car? Visit Nolo and the Consumer Information Center. How is buying a used car different from buying a new car?

Don't trust the seller of the car to give you all of the information you need. As a consumer, you are responsible for doing some investigating. What are safest cars on the market now?

Financing a Car
Read about leasing a car at Nolo and at the Federal Reserve Board's Quick Consumer Guide. What are the advantages and disadvantages of leasing a car? Learn how to read a lease and understand the terminology in the lease.

Download this worksheet (on the right side of the page, under "downloads") to compare the costs and benefits of buying and leasing.

Read the Consumer Leasing Act (text page 334) or read an overview. How does this act help people who enter leases?

Deciding to lease or buy a car is a personal decision, but it should also be an informed decision!

CHAPTER 28 Housing and the Consumer
Leases: A Special Kind Of Contract
Landlord-Tenant Negotiations
Homelessness: Is There a Right to Housing?

Leases: A Special Kind Of Contract
Read about the various types of rental agreements. How do the different kinds of agreements differ from each other? It is can be exciting to think living on your own. There are many things to consider before this decision is made.

Watch out for illegal provisions in rental agreements. Why are these types of provisions illegal?

The laws are often different in each state regarding tenancy and leases. Read the rules in Massachusetts and California. Compare your state's laws. If you know and understand your lease, you will be in a better position to advocate for your rights!

Landlord-Tenant Negotiations
When you sign a lease, you are agreeing to all of the terms in that lease, even if you did not read it! Read your lease and feel comfortable with the agreement. Read about landlord/tenant law in Washington State.

What are the responsibilities of a landlord and tenant? What happens if a rental unit needs repairs? Read about security deposits. What are the rules?

When is a landlord allowed to access and inspect a tenant's apartment? Read about a landlord's right of entry. When is the landlord invading the tenant's privacy?

Read Your Rights to Sublet, Share, and Assign Apartments. If you want to sublease your apartment, how should you go about it?

Overwhelmed with all that you must consider? Go back to the basics of the lease and see how much is familiar to you now!

Homelessness: Is There a Right to Housing?
Read Facts about Homelessness and read the Homeless Fact Sheets. What causes homelessness? What can be done to decrease or eliminate homelessness?

What are the legal rights of homeless people? What are the rights of homeless children? Read through the American Bar Association's publications on the homeless.

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