| November 24, 2023

Your Guide to Consumer Protection Laws: How to Handle a Damaged Holiday Purchase

Damaged delivery box marked Fragile on porch near house front door.
Damaged delivery box marked Fragile on porch near house front door.

In the back of your mind, you may be asking some practical questions about holiday shopping tips. What can you do if you purchase a faulty product or damaged goods arrive at your door? If the wrong item is delivered, what are your rights? Knowing your consumer rights is an important part of having a safe and satisfactory shopping experience.

Disappointed woman holding a damaged picture frame while talking on the phone.


Consumer protection laws you need to know

When you as the consumer buy items or services for yourself (not for a business), consumer laws come into play to keep you safe. These laws can protect you against misunderstandings or hefty fees from faulty products. Consumer laws also exist to warn you about common scams that plague the market. If you do become the victim of fraud or a scam, consumer laws are there to help protect your rights and help restore your hard-earned money.

Consumer laws can help protect your rights in several different ways when you are holiday shopping:

  • Fraud and scams
  • Recalled or damaged products
  • Advertisements
  • Refunds or exchanges for similar items
  • Cancellation if you change your mind about buying a product
  • Warranties and contracts for products you have purchased

Perhaps you have to take out a loan to make an especially costly purchase. Guess what: Consumer laws can help protect your rights when you enter that payment agreement. Consumer laws can also shelter you when you sign important contracts for services like funeral arrangements, club memberships, home renovations or purchases, and other jobs that require complex legal paperwork.


Holiday shopping tips

Even though you may know the basics of consumer law, you still want to do what you can to protect yourself. Practice these safe shopping tips as you hunt for the best deals online and in person.

1. Research the items you are considering purchasing. Check reviews. Compare prices of similar items. You may save yourself some money by knowing what to get and what to avoid.

2. Read before you buy. Make sure you understand product return/refund policies, as well as the fine details about any contracts you are preparing to sign.

3. Watch out for scams such as fake apps, gift card or delivery scams, fake gift exchanges, charity scams and more. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

4. Don’t give more personal information than necessary. When you are shopping in-person, cashiers often ask for your name, phone number, email, and other info so you can receive updates from their store. If you don’t want those updates, you don’t have to offer your personal details.


Implied warranty vs. expressed warranty

Researching a product or service before you buy? Make sure you understand the warranty that comes with that purchase. A warranty is a promise written by the seller, guaranteeing to fix or replace your product if you need such service within a specified time frame.

Warranties come in two forms: expressed and implied. An expressed warranty is a straightforward guarantee, usually laid out in the product details when you are looking to buy it. An implied warranty comes into play if no expressed warranty is written. The name says it all. You may buy an item that has no expressed warranty, but if that item arrives in such a condition that you cannot use it, the implied warranty would mean that you may get a refund or a replacement from the seller.

More than 70% of consumers face problems when trying to resolve warranty claims with retailers and manufacturers. It’s important to know exactly what the expressed warranty states, or to understand what the function of your item is expected to be with an implied warranty, so you can better fight for your rights if you do experience a problem.

Frustrated woman talking on phone and looking at a damaged purchase.


Risk of loss: Consumer rights on defective products

It’s always an unpleasant surprise when a purchase arrives broken or defective at your door. What actions can you take if this happens to you?

What can you do if you purchase a faulty product?

Spending a lot of money on a device or appliance means you expect the item to function properly for the extent of its warranty and longer. But maybe your brand-new microwave, desktop computer, or other expensive device stops working after the warranty expires. Do you have options? Yes!

Before making big purchases like this, you can protect yourself further with an extended warranty. Has the product already broken? Contact the manufacturer/seller to let them know the item is not functioning properly. Find out if they will abide by an implied warranty by acknowledging that their product should have worked better and longer. Understanding your consumer rights can help you a great deal as you try to get satisfaction for a faulty product.

Wrong item delivered—what are your rights?

What if you receive an item you didn’t even order? Most reputable sellers will accept responsibility for this and do what they can to fix the problem, whether that is refunding your money or sending the correct item. Make sure you read the fine details about the product or service before you pay for it, so you can know what the seller’s plan is if you receive the wrong item.


Returns, refunds, exchanges and more—LegalShield can help with your consumer rights issues

Handling your consumer rights protection can become a hassle in a hurry. As you are shopping for the best deals around, you don’t have time to deal with the potential problems that could arise. That’s why LegalShield is here to help you.

A LegalShield Membership gets you legal access to a provider law firm that is committed to assisting you with your personal legal needs. You can consult your LegalShield provider law firm on many different consumer rights-focused issues as you face them. Your provider law firm can review a contract, make a phone call, or send a letter and more concerning your holiday purchases.

Connect with an experienced law firm to access personal legal advice concerning your purchases and more.

Getting an affordable personal and family legal plan is a great way for you to protect yourself and your family when you need legal access for your personal legal issues that you don’t know how to handle.


Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. (“PPLSI”) provides access to legal services offered by a network of provider law firms to PPLSI members through membership-based participation. Neither PPLSI nor its officers, employees or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation, or advice. The information available in this blog is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide legal advice, render an opinion, or provide any specific recommendations. The blog post is not a substitute for competent legal counsel from a licensed professional lawyer in the state or province where your legal issues exist, and the reader is strongly encouraged to seek legal counsel for your specific legal matter. Information contained in the blog may be provided by authors who could be a third-party paid contributor. All information by authors is accepted in good faith, however, PPLSI makes no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability, or completeness of such information.

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