Help Me Hank: Pool Plans
You've got to get wet in the summertime… But the Ostiguy family wondered where? Community pools are nice, but too big... Their backyard wading pool is nice, but too small... An in ground pool, the family decided, here in the front yard would be just right.
Karen Ostiguy, Pool Buyer
"We were really thrilled we had decided to do this."
They went to the pool store and signed up for installation. Karen also bought all kinds of pool stuff so they'd be ready to go.
"It was just going to be really fun for the summer."
But while the kids were making do with the sprinkler, Karen made a trip to town hall and here the pool plans were drowned in a sea of red tape. To put a pool here in the front yard would take a zoning variance -- three months minimum.
So receipt in hand, she drove back to the pool store to get their big bucks returned.
"Their sign said, you know, full refund with thirty days with receipt. And I had a receipt and it was within thirty days."
That’s when the salesperson showed Karen the fine print on the back of her receipt. It says they charge a handling fee for returns, in her case -- $300.
"I was absolutely surprised and angry, very angry."
Baffled, Karen looked around the store, she told the clerk, she saw no notice about charging any fees.
"He said there will be a service charge for returning this. And I said no there won't be, it will be a ‘Help Me Hank’."
Now here’s the part where we usually get on the phone or show up and remind a proprietor about the law, but hey, Karen doesn’t really need me.
"Here’s the Consumer Affairs Web site," we told Karen, "and right here it says info on return policies must be posted and that service fee was not."
So we told Karen, "you drive right back to the store and tell em you know your rights." Karen was skeptical.
"I thought this is never going to work, I'm probably going to walk out of the store charged with the fee, and I’ll have to fight it even more."
But, with the law on her side, Karen got an instant full refund.
"They were like, ‘no problem ma’am.’"
Now with the money back in the bank, the family goes to the neighborhood pool and their backyard pool, but next year for sure they say, their own pool will be just right. And note to salespeople: Don’t try to pull anything over on Karen.
"What ‘Help Me Hank’ told me on the phone, I was well prepared to battle any battles."
If you want to check out your shopping rights check out the state's Consumer Affairs Office.
If you’re still fighting a consumer battle maybe I can help.