State of Minnesota
More about
Attorney General
Lori Swanson

Minnesota Attorney General's Office

1400 Bremer Tower
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101

(651) 296-3353
(800) 657-3787

M - F 8 am - 5 pm

TTY:(651) 297-7206
TTY:(800) 366-4812

Consumer Rights

Seniors Legal Rights

If a product or service disappoints you, it is your right to complain. In addition, Minnesota law also provides protection for consumers. The recipe for consumer satisfaction is to know your rights and use them.

Three-Day Cooling-Off Law

Minnesota's Home Solicitation Sales Act (more commonly known as the "Three-Day Cooling-Off Law") provides important protection when you buy goods or services in your home, over the telephone or at sales for personal and household purposes held in motels or auditoriums. When a contract is worth more than $25 you have three business days to cancel the sale. Cancellation under this law must be made in writing. Keep a copy of your letter. Mailing the letter by certified mail gives you added protection. You will know the letter was received, and you will know who signed for it. But remember, the law does not cover sales conducted at a normal place of business, like a store or car dealership.

Writing a Complaint Letter

When you want to let a company know that its product or service has disappointed you, a complaint letter can be an effective means of communication. You have the right to complain. Writing a letter gives you the opportunity to describe your disappointment, and let the company know what you expect it to do for you. (If you pursue your complaint in person or over the phone, keep notes of the conversations including who you talked to and when.)

When you sit down to write a complaint letter, first take time to organize your thoughts. Here are some additional tips to keep in mind:

  • Include your name, address, home or work telephone numbers, and account number, if any.
  • Include the date and place you made the purchase, who performed the service, specific product information such as the serial or model number or warranty terms, what went wrong, who you dealt with to try to resolve the problem, and what you want done to correct the problem.
  • Include copies, not originals, of all documents. Ideally this will include canceled checks, bills, sales receipts, warranties and contracts.
  • Be reasonable, not angry or threatening, in your letter.
  • Be brief and to the point.
  • If you can, say something positive about the company or product.
  • Get the Most for Your Money
    To ensure that you are satisfied with every purchase, follow these tips:
  • Read and follow product and service instructions.
  • Keep all sales receipts, warranties, service contracts and instructions.
  • Check your contract for any statement about your cancellation rights.
  • If you have a problem, contact the company as soon as possible. Trying to fix the product yourself might cancel your right to service under the warranty.
  • Keep a written record of your contact with the company.
  • If you paid for your purchase with a credit card, you have important "chargeback" rights that might help you get your money back.
  • Type your letter if possible, or make sure your handwriting is neat and easy to read.
  • Keep a copy of all letters to and from the company.
  • You might want to send the letter by certified mail. This will cost more, but will give you proof that the letter was received and tell you who signed for it.

Where to Send Your Complaint Letter

  • Check the product label or warranty for the name and address of the manufacturer.
  • If you need additional help locating company information, check the reference section of your local library or use the Internet.
  • In Minnesota, the Secretary of State provides addresses for companies incorporated in the state.
  • Remember to do business with a company you will be able to find later. It might be difficult to find companies in other states or those with only post office boxes as addresses.

Filing a Consumer Complaint

If your problem is not resolved you may decide to file a consumer complaint with the Attorney General's Office. Attach the letter and copies of all documents you sent to the company. Include information about
everything you have done to try to resolve your complaint.

The Attorney General's Office provides free mediation to resolve disputes between consumers and businesses. Mediation is an informal process that requires the voluntary participation and cooperation of all parties. Mediation works well when all parties are willing to make reasonable compromises. In fact, the Attorney General's Office successfully resolves about 70 percent of the complaints it receives and annually returns more than $2 million to Minnesota consumers.

Unfortunately, not all disputes can be resolved through mediation. Sometimes the communication between parties breaks down and cannot be restored, or one side may be unwilling to compromise. Or, in some cases, a company may be out of business and unable to provide assistance. If you are not satisfied with the results of mediation, Attorney General staff will often refer you to the best source for assistance, or explain the options you may have to pursue your claim. Sometimes pursuing a more formal resolution, such as arbitration, if it is available, or taking the matter to court, may be appropriate.

Mediation through the Attorney General's Office can only take place before you start formal action (such as arbitration or a lawsuit). The Attorney General's Office cannot represent private citizens in legal cases.

Legal Action

Taking legal action should be your last resort. However, if you decide to exercise this right, be aware that you might have to act within a certain time period. Conciliation Court, where you don't have to hire an attorney, may also be an option for you. You can request the complaint papers and get general information from the Court Administrator. The maximum claim you can currently seek through Conciliation Court is $7,500. Contact the Attorney General's Office to receive a free guide to Conciliation Court.

The Attorney General's Consumer Protection Office

The Attorney General enforces Minnesota's laws against false or fraudulent advertising, and enforces the laws to prevent consumer fraud. Helping consumers exercise their rights in the marketplace is a priority for the Attorney General.

The Attorney General's Consumer Protection Office operates a consumer assistance telephone line that answers questions and may advocate for consumers if they have a complaint.

For more information or assistance with consumer-related matters, contact the:

Minnesota Attorney General's Office
Consumer Protection:

1400 Bremer Tower
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
651-296-3353
1-800-657-3787
TTY: 651-297-7206
TTY: 1-800-366-4812

Reducing Junk Mail and Sales Calls

Your Rights

Federal law forbids a telemarketer to call you once you have asked to be put on the telemarketer's "do not call" list.

Violators of this law are liable for up to $500 dollars in damages per call and up to $1,500 per willful violation. Let the company know that you are aware of this law.

What to Include

You should send a letter or call the following organizations and companies and tell them that you want to be placed on their "do not call," "do not sell" or "do not mail" list. If you send a letter, list all variations in the spelling of your name, address, phone number and include the names of the other household members.

When you order from a catalog or sign up for a credit card, include a note saying: "Do not rent, trade, sell or give away my name, address or phone number."

Reduce Junk Mail

You can reduce junk mail by sending a letter to:

Mail Preference Service
Direct Marketing Association
P.O. Box 9008
Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008

If you contact the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), your name will be removed from all DMA member lists for five years.
It may take up to three months for you to see a decrease in the amount of mail you receive. Remember, this does not eliminate all "junk" mail. You will continue to receive mail from companies and organizations that do not belong to the DMA.

To stop pre-approved credit card offers and other unwanted mail, call the "Opt Out" hotline for Equifax, Experian and Trans Union Credit Bureaus at: 1-888-567-8688.

Reduce Telemarketing Calls

To remove your name from telemarketing lists, write to:

Telephone Preference Service

Direct Marketing Association

P.O. Box 9014

Farmingdale, NY 11735-9014

Like the Mail Preference Service, this will only stop Direct Marketing Association members, and you will continue to receive numerous other calls from other sources.

The major long-distance phone service providers will also place you on their "do no call" lists. Call them at:

AT&T
1-800-222-0300

MCI
1-800-444-3333

 

Next Page: Charitable Giving, Investments, and Health Care