Local business professionals were treated to an overview of Ohio consumer law and how it affects them in their businesses and personal lives Tuesday.
Kate Hanson, director of consumer education for the Ohio Attorney General's office, presented information on consumer protection and transactions during a meeting at Tiffin Area Chamber of Commerce.
"Our goal is to ensure that Ohio is a fair and safe marketplace for both consumers and businesses," Hanson said. "We want to make sure no business has an unfair advantage."
More than 25 laws protect Ohio consumers. They include:
Sellers are asked to provide consumers with a three-day right to cancel most door-to-door or non-traditional market sales.
Most gift cards should not expire for five years and fees should not reduce the balance of the card.
Consumers have the right to estimates for repairs or services of more than $25.
Consumers also need to be aware of advertising schemes, and make sure sellers list exclusions and limitations and do not sell used items as new. Items promoted as "free" should be free.
There also are rules to protect business owners. The Attorney General's office offers informal dispute resolution for organizations similar to that provided for consumers.
"The reason why this process is open to small business and non-profits is that in many cases small businesses and non-profits act like consumers, buying different products and services, and sometimes have trouble with those businesses they are buying products or services from," Hanson said. "Our process can help to assist with that."
Business owners should be aware of scams such as organizations charging a fee to help businesses comply with "a new government regulation," unauthorized phone charges, phony advertising offers and fraudulent invoices for services or supplies neither ordered nor received.
Complaints can be filed with the Attorney General's office if business owners believe they have been victimized by unfair market practices. Hanson suggested complaints be filed within two years as legal action may not be possible after that point.
The Attorney General's office serves as legal counsel for state agencies and supports local law enforcement and local prosecutors.
For more information or to file a complaint, call (800) 282-0515 or visit ohioattorneygeneral.gov.