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Consumer Law: The Virginia Consumer Protection Act

Va. Code Sec. 59.1-196.  Title 

   This chapter may be cited as the Virginia Consumer Protection Act of 1977.

 

 

§ 59.1-197.  Intent 

   It is the intent of the General Assembly that this chapter shall be applied as remedial legislation to promote fair and ethical standards of dealings between suppliers and the consuming public.

 

 

§ 59.1-198.  Definitions


   As used in this chapter:

"Business opportunity" means the sale of any products, equipment, supplies or services which are sold to an individual for the purpose of enabling such individual to start a business to be operated out of his residence, but does not include a business opportunity which is subject to the Business Opportunity Sales Act, Chapter 21 (§ 59.1-262 et esq..) of this title.

"Consumer transaction" means:

   1. The advertisement, sale, lease, license or offering for sale, lease or license, of goods or services to be used primarily for personal, family or household purposes;

   2. Transactions involving the advertisement, offer or sale to an individual of a business opportunity that requires both his expenditure of money or property and his personal services on a continuing basis and in which he has not been previously engaged;

   3. Transactions involving the advertisement, offer or sale to an individual of goods or services relating to the individual's finding or obtaining employment; and

   4. A layaway agreement, whereby part or all of the price of goods is payable in one or more payments subsequent to the making of the layaway agreement and the supplier retains possession of the goods and bears the risk of their loss or damage until the goods are paid in full according to the layaway agreement.

"Cure offer" means a written offer of one or more things of value, including but not limited to the payment of money, that is made by a supplier and that is delivered to a person claiming to have suffered a loss as a result of a consumer transaction or to the attorney for such person. A cure offer shall be reasonably calculated to remedy a loss claimed by the person and it shall include a minimum additional amount equaling 10 percent of the value of the cure offer or $ 500, whichever is greater, as compensation for inconvenience, any attorney's or other fees, expenses, or other costs of any kind that such person may incur in relation to such loss; provided, however that the minimum additional amount need not exceed $ 4,000.

"Goods" means all real, personal or mixed property, tangible or intangible. For purposes of this chapter, intangible property includes but shall not be limited to "computer information" and "informational rights" in computer information as defined in § 59.1-501.2.

"Person" means any natural person, corporation, trust, partnership, association and any other legal entity.

"Services" includes but shall not be limited to (i) work performed in the business or occupation of the supplier, (ii) work performed for the supplier by an agent whose charges or costs for such work are transferred by the supplier to the consumer or purchaser as an element of the consumer transaction, or (iii) the subject of an "access contract" as defined in § 59.1-501.2.

"Supplier" means a seller, lessor or licensor who advertises, solicits or engages in consumer transactions, or a manufacturer, distributor or licensor who advertises and sells, leases or licenses goods or services to be resold, leased or sublicensed by other persons in consumer transactions.

 

 

§ 59.1-199.  Exclusions


   Nothing in this chapter shall apply to:

   A. Any aspect of a consumer transaction which aspect is authorized under laws or regulations of this Commonwealth or the United States, or the formal advisory opinions of any regulatory body or official of this Commonwealth or the United States.

   B. Acts done by the publisher, owner, agent or employee of a newspaper, periodical, or radio or television station, or other advertising media such as outdoor advertising and advertising agencies, in the publication or dissemination of an advertisement in violation of § 59.1-200, unless it be proved that such person knew that the advertisement was of a character prohibited by § 59.1-200.

   C. Those aspects of a consumer transaction which are regulated by the Federal Consumer Credit Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq.

   D. Banks, savings institutions, credit unions, small loan companies, public service corporations, mortgage lenders as defined in § 6.1-409, broker-dealers as defined in § 13.1-501, gas suppliers as defined in subsection E of § 56-235.8, and insurance companies regulated and supervised by the State Corporation Commission or a comparable federal regulating body.

   E. Any aspect of a consumer transaction which is subject to the Landlord and Tenant Act, Chapter 13 (§ 55-217 et seq.) of Title 55 or the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, Chapter 13.2 (§ 55-248.2 et seq.) of Title 55, unless the act or practice of a landlord constitutes a misrepresentation or fraudulent act or practice under § 59.1-200.

   F. Real estate licensees who are licensed under Chapter 21 (§ 54.1-2100 et seq.) of Title 54.1.

 

 

 

§ 59.1-200.  Prohibited practices 

   A. The following fraudulent acts or practices committed by a supplier in connection with a consumer transaction are hereby declared unlawful:

   1. Misrepresenting goods or services as those of another;

   2. Misrepresenting the source, sponsorship, approval, or certification of goods or services;

   3. Misrepresenting the affiliation, connection, or association of the supplier, or of the goods or services, with another;

   4. Misrepresenting geographic origin in connection with goods or services;

   5. Misrepresenting that goods or services have certain quantities, characteristics, ingredients, uses, or benefits;

   6. Misrepresenting that goods or services are of a particular standard, quality, grade, style, or model;

   7. Advertising or offering for sale goods that are used, secondhand, repossessed, defective, blemished, deteriorated, or reconditioned, or that are "seconds," irregulars, imperfects, or "not first class," without clearly and unequivocally indicating in the advertisement or offer for sale that the goods are used, secondhand, repossessed, defective, blemished, deteriorated, reconditioned, or are "seconds," irregulars, imperfects or "not first class";

   8. Advertising goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised, or with intent not to sell at the price or upon the terms advertised.

   In any action brought under this subdivision, the refusal by any person, or any employee, agent, or servant thereof, to sell any goods or services advertised or offered for sale at the price or upon the terms advertised or offered, shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this subdivision. This paragraph shall not apply when it is clearly and conspicuously stated in the advertisement or offer by which such goods or services are advertised or offered for sale, that the supplier or offeror has a limited quantity or amount of such goods or services for sale, and the supplier or offeror at the time of such advertisement or offer did in fact have or reasonably expected to have at least such quantity or amount for sale;

   9. Making false or misleading statements of fact concerning the reasons for, existence of, or amounts of price reductions;

   10. Misrepresenting that repairs, alterations, modifications, or services have been performed or parts installed;

   11. Misrepresenting by the use of any written or documentary material that appears to be an invoice or bill for merchandise or services previously ordered;

   12. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, using in any manner the words "wholesale," "wholesaler," "factory," or "manufacturer" in the supplier's name, or to describe the nature of the supplier's business, unless the supplier is actually engaged primarily in selling at wholesale or in manufacturing the goods or services advertised or offered for sale;

   13. Using in any contract or lease any liquidated damage clause, penalty clause, or waiver of defense, or attempting to collect any liquidated damages or penalties under any clause, waiver, damages, or penalties that are void or unenforceable under any otherwise applicable laws of the Commonwealth, or under federal statutes or regulations;

   14. Using any other deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, or misrepresentation in connection with a consumer transaction;

   15. Violating any provision of § 3.1-796.78, 3.1-796.79, or 3.1-796.82, relating to the sale of certain animals by pet dealers which is described in such sections, is a violation of this chapter;

   16. Failing to disclose all conditions, charges, or fees relating to:

      a. The return of goods for refund, exchange, or credit. Such disclosure shall be by means of a sign attached to the goods, or placed in a conspicuous public area of the premises of the supplier, so as to be readily noticeable and readable by the person obtaining the goods from the supplier. If the supplier does not permit a refund, exchange, or credit for return, he shall so state on a similar sign. The provisions of this subdivision shall not apply to any retail merchant who has a policy of providing, for a period of not less than 20 days after date of purchase, a cash refund or credit to the purchaser's credit card account for the return of defective, unused, or undamaged merchandise upon presentation of proof of purchase. In the case of merchandise paid for by check, the purchase shall be treated as a cash purchase and any refund may be delayed for a period of 10 banking days to allow for the check to clear. This subdivision does not apply to sale merchandise that is obviously distressed, out of date, post season, or otherwise reduced for clearance; nor does this subdivision apply to special order purchases where the purchaser has requested the supplier to order merchandise of a specific or unusual size, color, or brand not ordinarily carried in the store or the store's catalog; nor shall this subdivision apply in connection with a transaction for the sale or lease of motor vehicles, farm tractors, or motorcycles as defined in § 46.2-100;

      b. A layaway agreement. Such disclosure shall be furnished to the consumer (i) in writing at the time of the layaway agreement, or (ii) by means of a sign placed in a conspicuous public area of the premises of the supplier, so as to be readily noticeable and readable by the consumer, or (iii) on the bill of sale. Disclosure shall include the conditions, charges, or fees in the event that a consumer breaches the agreement;

   16a. Failing to provide written notice to a consumer of an existing open-end credit balance in excess of $ 5 (i) on an account maintained by the supplier and (ii) resulting from such consumer's overpayment on such account. Suppliers shall give consumers written notice of such credit balances within 60 days of receiving overpayments. If the credit balance information is incorporated into statements of account furnished consumers by suppliers within such 60-day period, no separate or additional notice is required;

   17. If a supplier enters into a written agreement with a consumer to resolve a dispute that arises in connection with a consumer transaction, failing to adhere to the terms and conditions of such an agreement;

   18. Violating any provision of the Virginia Health Spa Act, Chapter 24 (§ 59.1-294 et seq.) of this title;

   19. Violating any provision of the Virginia Home Solicitation Sales Act, Chapter 2.1 (§ 59.1-21.1 et seq.) of this title;

   20. Violating any provision of the Automobile Repair Facilities Act, Chapter 17.1 (§ 59.1-207.1 et seq.) of this title;

   21. Violating any provision of the Virginia Lease-Purchase Agreement Act, Chapter 17.4 (§ 59.1-207.17 et seq.) of this title;

   22. Violating any provision of the Prizes and Gifts Act, Chapter 31 (§ 59.1-415 et seq.) of this title;

   23. Violating any provision of the Virginia Public Telephone Information Act, Chapter 32 (§ 59.1-424 et seq.) of this title;

   24. Violating any provision of § 54.1-1505;

   25. Violating any provision of the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers' Warranty Adjustment Act, Chapter 17.6 (§ 59.1-207.34 et seq.) of this title;

   26. Violating any provision of § 3.1-949.1, relating to the pricing of merchandise;

   27. Violating any provision of the Pay-Per-Call Services Act, Chapter 33 (§ 59.1-429 et seq.) of this title;

   28. Violating any provision of the Extended Service Contract Act, Chapter 34 (§ 59.1-435 et seq.) of this title;

   29. Violating any provision of the Virginia Membership Camping Act, Chapter 25 (§ 59.1-311 et seq.) of this title;

   30. Violating any provision of the Comparison Price Advertising Act, Chapter 17.7 (§ 59.1-207.40 et seq.) of this title;

   31. Violating any provision of the Virginia Travel Club Act, Chapter 36 (§ 59.1-445 et seq.) of this title;

   32. Violating any provision of §§ 46.2-1231 and 46.2-1233.1;

   33. Violating any provision of Chapter 40 (§ 54.1-4000 et seq.) of Title 54.1;

   34. Violating any provision of Chapter 10.1 (§ 58.1-1031 et seq.) of Title 58.1;

   35. Using the consumer's social security number as the consumer's account number with the supplier, if the consumer has requested in writing that the supplier use an alternate number not associated with the consumer's social security number;

   36. Violating any provision of Chapter 18 (

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