You don’t have three days to change your mind

You don’t have three days to change your mind

Q. I hope you can assist me with this problem. I purchased a car from a dealer that purchases vehicles from auctions for re-sale. The vehicle was purchased under a contract that said it was “as is” and did not come with a warranty. It has been two days since the date of purchase, and this vehicle now has major problems. What are my rights as a consumer wanting to return this vehicle and get a refund? Don’t I have three days to change my mind?

A. First, there is no three-day rule when you buy a car. In fact, as a general rule you never have three days to change your mind when you make a purchase. The law only provides a three-day right to rescind and terminate a transaction in limited situations, such as when you buy something from a door-to-door salesperson, enter into a contract with a health club, or buy a time-share interest in real estate.

Just as importantly, buying something “as is” and with no warranties is pretty much a final sale. As a general rule, whenever you buy something in Texas, the law gives you various warranties that protect you if the product is defective and protect you if you are misled or deceived. The seller also has an obligation to disclose known defects. But buying “as is” and without any warranties eliminates most of these protections. In my opinion, you would have the right to return the car only if the seller defrauded you into signing the contract. For example, if the seller knew the car had serious problems and told you there was nothing wrong to induce you into signing the contract.

The bottom line is simple: If you buy something “as is” and with no warranties, what you see is what you get. Don’t finalize the sale if you have any doubts about the condition of what you are buying.

Q. I have been legally separated from my husband for five years. Now he has started to harass me. Is this a sufficient ground to get divorced?

A. First, in Texas there is no such thing as a legal separation. Until you are divorced, you are married. Under Texas law, you also do not need a reason to get divorced. Texas is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means that you can terminate your marriage without showing any specific reason. I suggest you promptly speak with a family law attorney and have him or her file for the divorce and take steps to stop the harassment.


Q. I bought something and the seller misrepresented the condition. Can I use the Deceptive Trade Practices Act in justice court? Can I get three times my damages if I win?

A. Yes and maybe. When it comes to the law, justice court (the new name for small claims court) is no different than any other court. The same laws can be used in any court.

The Deceptive Trade Practices Act is our state’s consumer protection law, and it may be used in justice court. This law basically provides that no one may mislead, deceive or take unfair advantage of a consumer. It also requires that material information know by the seller must be disclosed to the consumer. Under this law, a consumer (which includes a small business) can get up to three times damages, but only if it is shown that the person acted “knowingly.” In other words, you may have a claim you assert in justice court based on the misrepresentation, but you must show the seller knew or had reason to know it was false to collect punitive damages.


Q. I applied for a job. The company said I have to work six months before I would be entitled to three days paid vacation. Is this legal?

A. There is no requirement in the law that employers give their employees any paid vacation time. It is entirely a matter to be negotiated between you and your employer. If this is not acceptable to you, you can simply refuse the position or tell them you will accept the position only if you receive the vacation time you believe is fair and reasonable.


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