10 Things Consumers Should Know About Business Law
The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) can help consumers to get business owners to comply with city law.
The DCA licenses some 60,000 small businesses and enforces consumer protection and weights and measures laws at all retail businesses to help keep the marketplace fair.
1) Laws–New York City Department of Consumer Affairs enforces city licensing, consumer protection and weights and measures laws as well as related state laws.
2) Licensing–By law, DCA licenses 55 types of small businesses including home improvement contractors, electronic stores, and more. A DCA license must be posted in a place that’s visible to consumers.
3) Enforcement–DCA inspects thousands of local businesses every year to ensure compliance with city laws and regulations, and responds to consumer complaints and deceptive ads.
4) Refund Rules–The store’s refund policy should be posted by the cash register where the consumer can read it without difficulty. It should explain all the details that limit a return, such as time limits, required photo ID, or other special conditions. If the refund policy does not explain the store’s refund policy, the law states the consumer must be given a full refund on demand or the store risks a violation.
5) Receipts–The name, address, license number (where applicable) and itemized purchases must appear on all receipts. A receipt must be provided for any sale of $20 or more, and upon any request for any sale between $5 and $20.
6)–Posting Prices–If an annual business volume is $2 million or more, price tags must be on most items. Pricing items differently based on gender, such as haircuts or dry cleaning is illegal.
7)–Weights and Measures–DCA inspects store scales to make sure they are balanced. Scales must be positioned so consumers can view weight information and price per pound. The weight of the package, or “tear,” must be subtracted from the cost of the weighed item.
8)–Selling Tobacco Products–All stores that sell tobacco items must be licensed by the DCA. Merchants caught selling tobacco to kids under 18, on more than two occasions, within a two-year period risk high fines as well as losing their city license, state registration and lottery license.
9) Violations and Penalties–If DCA finds a violation of the law, the stores license may be pulled or their premises may be padlocked. In many cases, if a store is issued a violation, they will have the right to a hearing before an administrative law judge.
10) Resolving Complaints–DCA always contacts businesses when a consumer files a complaint against them. Often complaints can be settled right away through mediation. If mediation is unsuccessful or a business is unresponsive, charges may be brought to obtain consumer restitution or fines.
For more information, call the city at 311 or go to www.nyc.gov/consumers.