consumer law

Political Memorabilia Law

California has a law that targets political memorabilia. Found at Civil Code Section 1739, this law regulates the sale, advertisement for sale, and offer for sale of “any political item which is purported to be an original political item but which is not in fact an original political item.”

California Civil Code Section 1739.1 defines a political item as “any button, ribbon, poster, sticker, literature or advertising” for a candidate or ballot proposition in an electoral campaign. For an item to be original, it must have been “produced during any electoral campaign for use in support or in opposition to any candidate or ballot proposition before the voters in that campaign.”

So, if you are selling Barry Goldwater memorabilia, it should be labeled as a copy or reproduction, if the item is not original.

If you purchased a reproduction that was no so labeled, you can get a refund with interest. However, if the seller knew the item was a reproduction but sold it as an original, the buyer is eligible for damages equal to three times the price paid and interest.

The statute of limitation is one year from the date of discovery, but no more than three years after the sale.

I understand why the sale of reproductions as authentic items is wrong. But, why does California need a statute targeted towards political memorabilia? Don’t general laws addressing fraud or unfair business practices take care of this problem?

consumer law

California Unit Pricing Law

When comparison shopping at the supermarket, trying to find the best bargain could be challenging because manufacturers produce canned, bottled and packaged goods in odd quantities. If we are comparing between a 5 lb. and 10 lb. bag of flour, the task is relatively easy. Does the 10 lb. bag cost twice as much as the 5 lb. bag?

However, when looking at a 46 ounce and 52 ounce bottle, pulling out the calculator (or smartphone) may be needed. Thankfully, many stores provide unit pricing information on the product tag, which will show the per ounce price of each bottle.

As it turns out, in California, the state unit pricing law is found in the Business and Professions Code; however, calling it a law may be overstating it a bit considering its voluntary nature.

It is the intent of the Legislature to encourage the unit pricing of all canned, bottled, and packaged foods, packaged produce, and bakery goods; paper, plastic, wood, and metal products packaged
in counts greater than 10; rolled paper, plastic, and metal products; canned, bottled, and packaged domestic, laundry and household cleansing, finishing, waxing, and polishing products; drug and first
aid products canned, packaged, or bottled in counts greater than 10; and frozen fruits and vegetables, offered by merchants in their places of business for sale at retail to the public.

I find that having the information is helpful not just from the point of being an educated consumer, but that it helps lower the obstacles to making a purchasing decision. The store would probably prefer that a consumer look at the unit pricing information and buy instead of standing in the aisle and calculating math problems.

consumer law

Food That Looks Like Toys

Last year, Consumer Reports blogged about the choking hazard posed by candies packaged to appear as toys. CR was concerned that young children will be confused by toy-like objects that are edible in one context but not another. I spotted a similar product during a recent supermarket run. Crayon-like popsicles. I’m not sure who the marketing genius is behind this product, but I don’t associate a box of crayons with anything tasty. Of course, parents may use these popsicles as a medical diagnostic tool. If your young Hannibal keeps asking for the flesh-flavored popsicle, you might consider consulting with Dr. Starling.

consumer law personal injury

Poison Me Elmo

Forbes/Associated Press: Experts Urge Blood Tests in Toy Recall. Parents worried their children may have been exposed to excessive levels of lead in recalled Fisher-Price toys should visit the pediatrician for a blood test, experts said Thursday. 

So, explain this one to me. Toys that contain lead paint that you are not supposed to ingest gets recalled. However, chicken that contains melamine that is intended for human consumption…well, that’s safe. Huh?Anyways, Mattel will be taking a $30 million charge to reflect the cost of the recall, which may seem high. In reality, an American jury presented with a fact pattern showing that a major American toy company exported American manufacturing jobs overseas to cut costs and then imported lower quality Chinese manufactured children toys that contain toxic lead paint without screening for product safety…well, you tell me what the punitive damages award will be. Think the jury will want to “send a message” to corporate America? $30 million product recall looking cheap now?

consumer law

Cancel My Order

Many companies allow their customers to place an order online, but if you ever try to cancel an order, good luck. To them, the Internet is an easy way to take your money. Want to cancel? Well, that’s what waiting on hold over the telephone is for. And that’s a shame. To wait on hold for 15 minutes and then have some customer service representative tell me how he will solve my problems and try to sell additional services is simply a waste of time. Believe me, no one is buying at that point. And, if they subjected new customers to that treatment, no one would ever buy.Before I pay another dime to some subscription service or an untested vendor, I am going to call them by telephone first to see what response I will get when a problem arises. If that sales call picks up on the third ring, but that call to cancel an order is shunted to Muzakland, that pretty much tells me to keep on looking around.