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Questions about Consumer Products

Consumer products are any items that are made and sold to a consumer for household, school, or recreational use inside or out. Also, a consumer product can be anything that is purchased for the private use, consumption, or enjoyment in a household, school or recreational use. Below are a few of the more commonly asked legal questions about consumer products and consumer protection law.

Regarding HR 4040 consumer product protection: we are a small children's clothing design company that sells direct to the consumer. While the law seems to be blanketed across the board regarding children's products for 12 and under, how does this affect us in the small boutique world? The cost of complying with this law may mean the difference between going out of business or continued operations.

HR 4040 is an update that was added to the Consumer Product Safety Act. This provision is for toys, so clothing and shoes would be exempt from many of the requirements listed in HR4040 as long as they are not used as toys. This also includes the need for third party labs to test the product to ensure safety.

The link below explains the CPSC views on footwear in a letter. A similar letter will be available on the CPSC website in the near future. http://www.apparelandfootwear.org/letters/CPSCphthalatesresponse.pdf

You may want to speak with an attorney who can explain your responsibility as a business owner when dealing with the requirements of HR4040. You could also contact the American Apparel and Footwear Association for more information.

I have a 2011 5th wheel RV that I bought new in Oct. 2010. This is about a $65,000 coach and it has had continuous water leaks ever since I bought it. I told the dealership back in Oct. that they and the manufacturer needed to buy the RV back. They said no, and even said that if I pursued legal action, they would void the warranty! What can I do? I live in Alabama.

Recreational vehicles and motor homes are not protected under the Alabama Lemon Law. However, many people are unaware of the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. The MMWA states that a manufacturer of a product must stand by the warranty for that product. This covers any products from a kitchen mixer to RV's. The Magnuson-Moss Act was enacted in 1975 and is a federal statute that oversees warranties on consumer products.

You will have to sue the RV manufacturer which differs from the Alabama Lemon Law for cars which offers arbitration and mediation as a means to resolve the issue. You won't have a lengthy amount of time to sue the manufacturer. You will need to contact an attorney who is familiar with the Lemon Law if your RV has been repaired 3 times in a shop for the same issue. If you win your case in court, the manufacturer will be responsible for paying your attorney fees.

It is very important to present a well organized case when dealing with a Lemon Law claim. You need to have every receipt, service receipt, and paperwork that shows that the issue has been a repeat issue. You also need to show the days that your RV was not in your possession due to being in the shop. With everything listed properly, your attorney will have a better chance of winning the lawsuit. As far as the threats made by the manufacturer/dealer, this would be a form of extortion and duress. You should really consider hiring an attorney to start the lawsuit.

I bought a freezer at less than a year ago. It is still under the manufacturer’s warranty. Frigidaire refuses to replace it even though the repair company says it is not repairable. They told us to live with it. What should I do?

The first step would be to take the manufacturer to a small claims court for breach of contract and violating the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is a federal law that oversees warranties on consumer products. The best course of action would probably be to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer for the amount of the refrigerator. You will need to have the repairman's statements about the refrigerator being un-repairable and copies of any other repairs. This looks to be a favorable lawsuit for you.

If you have issues regarding a consumer product, you shouldn't hesitate to speak with an Expert in consumer protection law.
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