Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Deposit.

We have all been through it. Going shopping, seeing something we like, and then putting down a deposit. And just like Dan, sometimes there is a problem with the deposit.

Dan went to buy a couch from a shop in Detroit. After looking around, a sales agent approached him and showed him a display model on sale. After some thinking, and taking a few photos with his cell phone, Dan asked for the couch to be put on hold.

'Our policy is to take a deposit for all layaway's”. The sales agent says.

“$50 should do it. Let me get the paperwork”.

Sounds reasonable. Dan hands over cash for the deposit, and signs some piece of paper, that he thinks is a receipt.

Dan gets home and shows his wife the photos. She hates the colour, and the style of the pillows. She mumbles something about their style being more of a baroque, instead of neoclassic, or something like that.

Dan goes back to the store, tracks down the sales agent, and explains he just received a lecture on interior design styles. The couch is not suitable. He asks for his deposit back.

That’s when it all falls apart.

The agents explains to Dan that the deposit is non-refundable, however it can be used towards another couch. The agent points to a small bit of writing at the bottom of the receipt. Looks like Dan got hooked into signing something he did not intend or understand.

Dan asked for my help.

So Dan, here is how you would get your deposit back.

Make some notes about what happened when you went into the store. Be specific. What was asked, answered and said. It is important that you have your facts straight. Crisp and clear.

Contact the General Manager of the store, and explain to him/her that had the sales agent properly informed you this was a non-refundable deposit, you would not have placed it. You must establish a "but for". Show the cause and affect, and show how the affect would have been different with a different cause.

The key here is to show that the sales agent made the error, and without the error you would not have made the deposit. If the store was not clear in their deposit policy, and the staff knew you did not understand the policy, you are entitled to it being returned.

If the manager is being uncooperative, then contact the store headquarters. Ask for the regional manager and explain the issue. If the store is locally owned, and not part of a national chain, then ask for the owners.

Should you still get no response, put your issue in writing, and mail it to the store’s address, attention owners. Keep your letter brief, and ask for a deadline to have the money returned. At this point it is probably worth your while to file a complaint with the Attorney Generals Office.

In the U.S. the majority of States' Attorney General Office, has a Consumer Complaints Division. They will take formal complaints from citizens who feel they have been wronged. Google your state, with the words Attorney General. Go to the Consumer section. You should see where to file a complaint.

Ultimately Dan you could go to small claims court.

I contacted the store on behalf of Dan, and was able to get the money refunded. The store also assured me that they will change the policy on how deposits are taken to avoid confusion.

Before you give a deposit, make sure you understand the terms. Do not sign something without reading it. Give the store a chance to fix their issues by being calm and polite. And finally a well written letter can be a saving grace.

Copyright © 2009 Peter MacSweeney.
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without the express written consent of the author is forbidden. Contact the author through the comment form for all inquiries, including media.

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