Consumers now have an updated protection law

Whether they know it or not, merchants are working under an updated consumer law that went into effect Nov. 1.

The measure is the first revision in 13 years and was designed to address current trends. In many respects, the requirements are similar to those in existence in the United States and Canada.

The Ministerio de Economía, Industría y Comercio is in charge of enforcing the legislation as well as several agencies within this ministry.

Consumers have faced a number of time-sales problems involving vacations, funerals and other products that are pay now and use later. There also have been high-profile situations when major musical concerts were canceled and not everyone received back their admission.

The new law addresses time-sale situations as well as guarantees, sales in the home and advertising. Among other requirements:

• Used products have to be so labeled and separated from the rest of the merchandise. This includes returned goods or products used as demos.

• Rules for advertising require that testimonials and endorsements be genuine, verifiable and based on actual experience.

• During sales, the merchant has to guarantee that the supply of advertised products will last the length of the promotion.

• Product comparisons in advertising or in sales pitches have to be verifiable and involve similar products.
• Advertisers can only use identifiable scientific information or statistics.

• When customers make a purchase from a salesperson who comes to the home, the buyer has the right to cancel the sale over the next eight days and return the product without using it. The salesperson has to provide in the contract contact information via fax or e-mail.

• Those who put on concerts and other public events have the obligation to return the money paid if the event does not come off or if there are variances in what was promised and what was provided. There are specific rules for notifying the public.

There also are rules that require notification and reimbursement when a product is recalled.

Included are updated disclosure requirements for credit sales.

The new rules cover just intangible time-sales and require the vendor to have sufficient capital.

Once a consumer makes a complaint, the Comisión Nacional de Consumidor has 30 days to determine if the case will be accepted. Then there is a process that has deadlines in which the complaint will be considered.

The ministry held an explanation session for lawyers, chamber of commerce leaders and business operators Monday. The law is No. 7472, and it was published in the La Gaceta official newspaper Nov. 1.

There likely will be a series of private meetings among business people and chambers of commerce members to learn about the new law.

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