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  1. #1
    ecagan is offline Junior Member
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    Jul 2006
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    Restocking fees not specified in contract

    What is the name of your state? Colorado

    I recently purchased a microwave from an appliance outlet. It didn't fit over my range so I returned it. On the contract that I signed, it stated at the bottom that "restocking fees may apply" Since it was after my signature, I never saw it and the company rep never stated that there were restocking fees.
    I have some questions on contract law out of this.
    1. Since the contract that I signed did not have specific terms, does this allow the company to do whatever it wants?
    2. Legally, where does the company have to place their policy for returns to be enforceable?
    3. I heard that anything beyond the signature is not part of the contract. Since the part about the restocking fees wasn't within this area, I never saw it. Is it part of the contract if there weren't any other reference to terms and conditions within the contract?

    I understand that restocking fees are becoming a fact of life since they need to pay for people returning merchandise in a similar manner to what I did, I just want to understand more how it works if it isn't disclosed.
    Thanks,
    EricWhat is the name of your state?
  2. #2
    divgradcurl is offline Senior Member
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    Bay Area, CA
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    1. Since the contract that I signed did not have specific terms, does this allow the company to do whatever it wants?
    No. The restocking fee has to be "reasonbale."

    2. Legally, where does the company have to place their policy for returns to be enforceable?
    What are you asking here?

    3. I heard that anything beyond the signature is not part of the contract. Since the part about the restocking fees wasn't within this area, I never saw it. Is it part of the contract if there weren't any other reference to terms and conditions within the contract?
    Not true. The terms could be anywhere on the contract, or even in another document that was incorporated into the signed contract. You are responsible for reading the entire document.

    I understand that restocking fees are becoming a fact of life since they need to pay for people returning merchandise in a similar manner to what I did, I just want to understand more how it works if it isn't disclosed.
    The fee was disclosed, just the amount is in question, and as long as the amount is "reasonable," a court will uphold it.
  3. #3
    ecagan is offline Junior Member
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    Re: Restocking fees not specified in contract

    Thanks for the information.

    Regarding the terms of the contract, if the company doesn't specify that there is another document that needs to be referenced to see all the terms and conditions of doing business with that company, would that be an issue? That was mainly my point to question 2.

    Here's another question that popped into my head. If I were to scratch out the part about the restocking fee applying and handwrite on the contract that I don't wish to pay restocking fees when I pay, if the company rep still goes through with the sale, will that hold? Or does the rep need to initial or sign the change as well? That's always something I wanted to try but didn't know if that would be worth it or not.
    Thanks,
    Eric
  4. #4
    divgradcurl is offline Senior Member
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    Regarding the terms of the contract, if the company doesn't specify that there is another document that needs to be referenced to see all the terms and conditions of doing business with that company, would that be an issue? That was mainly my point to question 2.
    It depends on the situation, the positions of the buyers and sellers (is this a retail sale? a sale between merchants?), etc. As a general rule in contract law, if something outside of the "four corners" of the contract is to be binding, it must be referenced in some way inside the "four corners" of the contract. However, for retail sales, simply posting the rules conspicously might be sufficient under local law, and customers who came into the store would be bound by them, even if they weren't explicitly laid out in the contract.

    If this is a simple retail sale, where you went into a store and bought the microwave, and you signed somewhere on a receipt agreeing to a restocking fee or something, the courts would likely rule that the signed paper was not a "complete" contract, and would be more willing to look outside of the "four corners" of the writing to elucidate the contractual terms.

    If I were to scratch out the part about the restocking fee applying and handwrite on the contract that I don't wish to pay restocking fees when I pay, if the company rep still goes through with the sale, will that hold?
    Generally, under contract law, such modifications are allowed -- however, if you just go up to the cash register and scratch this part out when you pay, a court might be unwilling to uphold the modification unless the cahier had the authority, or the apparent authority, to "bind" the company in such a way. If you were negotiating with the president of the company, and did this, and he didn't complain, the courts would surely look upon this as a bonafide change to the contract -- so long as the president didn't try and dispute that the change was made AFTER the contract was signed. But anyone else, then the question becomes, did the person who agreed to the change have the ACTUAL authority to agree to or negotiate such a change, or would a reasonable person BELIEVE that the person accepting the change have the authority to do so. You can't just say, "they accepted the change, so I assume they had the authority to change it" -- the rule is, it must have been "reasonable" to make that assumption. If you are at a store, it is probably NOT reasonable to assume that the cashier has such authority. A saleman? Maybe. It will all depend on the exact situation.

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