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Consumer Complaints



Buying, Selling and Repairing Cars

A. New Vehicles

1. The Texas "Lemon Law" found in the Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 2301, http://www.dot.state.tx.us/services/motor_vehicle/texas_lemon_law/default.htm, protects new vehicle owners only. The law provides that after a reasonable number of attempts to repair a defect have been unsuccessful, the consumer may notify the manufacturer and seek assistance from the Texas Motor Vehicle Commission. For most problems a "reasonable number" of attempts is considered four, two within the first 12 months of purchase or 12,000 miles and two within 12 months or 12,000 miles after the second attempt. If, however, the defect is one that creates a serious safety hazard, then a reasonable number of attempts is considered to be two, one of which was within the first 12 months or 12,000 miles, and the second within 12 months or 12,000 miles after the first. The law also applies if a vehicle is out of service for a cumulative 30 days in the first 24 months and at least 2 repair attempts have been made, one of which was in the first 12 months or 12,000 miles after purchase. If, after these repair attempts have been made, the defect still exists, the consumer should notify the manufacturer in writing of the defect and should do so before the express warranties on the vehicle expire.

2. If all efforts to settle the problem with the manufacturer are unsuccessful, the consumer should contact the Texas Motor Vehicle Commission. The complaint should be made in writing and should outline the history of the problem and the repair attempts. The Commission will then investigate the problem and may recommend a mediation session to resolve the problem.

3. If the Commission finds that the defect cannot be corrected, it can order the manufacturer to replace the car with a comparable vehicle, or it can order the manufacturer to take the vehicle back and refund the purchase price, minus a reasonable cost for the use of the car.

4. All new car dealers in Texas must provide purchasers with information about the complaint procedures under this law.

5. Complaint forms and information are available online at http://www.dot.state.tx.us/mvd/lemon/lemonlaw.htm, or you may contact:
Texas Department of Transportation
Motor Vehicle Division
Consumer Affairs Section
P.O. Box 2293
Austin, Texas 78768-2293
Statewide toll free: 800/622-8682
(512)-416-4800
(512)-416-4850 (fax)

B. Used Vehicles

1. While used vehicles are not covered by the Lemon Law, purchases of used vehicles may be covered by the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Statute. For example, misrepresentations made by a dealer in order to make a sale would be a violation of this statute. Failure to disclose that the vehicle had been returned as a lemon would also violate the statute. (More information on the DTPA is included below.)

2. The only warranties that cover a used vehicle are those that are expressly provided by a dealer or an unexpired manufacturer's warranty. It is very important to find out whether the vehicle is being sold "as is" (without any warranties) or whether it is being sold with warranties and exactly what those warranties cover.

3. Remember when buying a used vehicle to:

a. Shop around.

b. Do your research about the kind of car you want and about the dealer. Contact the Better Business Bureau to see if complaints have been filed against the dealer.

c. Check the "Buyer's Guide" carefully if purchasing from a dealer.

d. Ask about a return policy, and if there is one, get it in writing.

e. If any promises or representations of any kind are made about the vehicle, get them in writing.

f. Have a pre-purchase independent inspection of the vehicle done.

g. Make sure you know what is included in any warranties. Check to see if a service contract is available and determine if it will be beneficial to you.

h. Make sure you get papers necessary to change title at the time of sale.

C. Car Repairs

1. Car repair scams are one of the most frequent consumer complaints. Tips for protecting yourself include:

a. Locate a reputable mechanic before you need one. Contact the Better Business Bureau and the Attorney general's office to see if complaints have been filed in the past. Get recommendations from trusted friends.

b. An "authorization to inspect" is not an "authorization to repair." You should get both forms in writing with a separate signature for each. Be sure you read each form and know what you are agreeing to.

c. Do not leave valuables in your car.

d. Ask for a written estimate before any work is done on your car. Tell the mechanic that if there are additional costs you want to be informed before the work is done.

e. Make sure you know whether new, used or refurbished parts will be used, and get this in writing.

f. If the final bill is much higher than the estimate, or if unauthorized work is done, question the bill. Request detailed, written reasons for the increase in price.

g. Get everything in writing. Don't trust a smiling, friendly face.

h. Have another mechanic look at your car and write a statement about the work that was done. It sometimes helps encourage a settlement to take a written statement from a second mechanic back to the original mechanic stating that you were overcharged, or work was not done as requested or represented.

i. Do not refuse to pay the bill. Your car can be held until payment is received.

2. If you are unable to resolve the matter, contact an attorney, or file a complaint with the office of Attorney General at http://www.oag.state.tx.us or call 1-800-621-0508, or the local, Better Business Bureau at (254)-755-7772, 2210 Washington Avenue, Waco, Texas 76701.


Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA)

A. The DTPA protects consumers against false, misleading and deceptive trade practices, and unconscionable actions and breaches of warranty. Anyone can be sued. If you sell something to a friend, or if you buy something from a friend, you are subject to the provisions of this statute.

B. Penalties provided for violations of this statute can be as much as three times the actual damages suffered by the consumer if the consumer can show that the person acted "knowingly." Attorney's fees are also recoverable.

C. Some of the more commonly used of the 26 "laundry list" prohibitions in the statute are:

1. Passing off goods and services as those of another.

2. Representing that goods or services have sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, or quantities which they do not have, or that a person has sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation of connection which he or she does not.

3. Representing that goods are original or new if they are deteriorated, reconditioned, reclaimed, used or secondhand.

4. Advertising goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised.

5. Advertising goods or services with intent not to supply reasonable expectable public demand, unless advertisements disclosed a limitation of quantity.

6. Representing that an agreement involves rights, remedies, or obligations which it does not have or involve, or which are prohibited by law.

7. Promoting a pyramid promotional scheme.

8. Advertising of any sale by fraudulently representing that the person is going out of business.

9. Representing that work or service has been performed on, or parts replaced in, goods when the work or services were not performed or the parts replaced.

10. The failure to disclose information concerning goods and services which was known at the time of the transaction, if such failure to disclose was intended to induce the consumer into a transaction which the consumer would not have entered had the information been as disclosed.
D. For a copy of the entire statute, see http://www.legis.state.tx.us See Chapter 17.

E. This statute contains very specific procedures for consumers to follow. It is advisable to seek the assistance of an attorney if you think you may have a claim that would be covered by the DTPA.


Unwanted Solicitation

A. Door-to-Door Solicitation
1. Under the Home Solicitation Sales Act, a consumer has the right to cancel a transaction not later than midnight of the third business day after the date of the transaction if:

  • the transaction takes place other than at the merchant's place of business, and


  • the transaction is for purchase of goods or services more than $25, or


  • the transaction is for real property more than $100.

2. The merchant must provide you with a "notice of cancellation" form.

3. To cancel a transaction, sign, date and send the notice back within the time prescribed.

4. Your money must be returned within ten days, the merchant may not require you to pay to return goods, and after 20 days you cannot be forced to return the goods.

5. A copy of this statute can be found at http://www.legis.state.us See Chapter 17.
B. Telephone Solicitation
1. A telephone solicitor must:

  • identify himself by name, and
  • identify the business on whose behalf the telephone solicitor is calling, and
  • state the purpose of the call immediately after making contact with the consumer to whom the call is made.
2. A telephone solicitor may not make consumer telephone calls unless:
  • the call is made after 9 a.m. and before 9 p.m. on a Sunday, or
  • before 9 p.m. on a weekday or a Saturday, and
  • the automated dialing device must disconnect the consumer's telephone line within five seconds after termination of the call by either party (Utilities Code Section 55.126).
3. The above requirements do not apply to:

  • solicitations in response to an express request from the consumer,
  • solicitations in connection with an existing debt or contract for which payment has not been completed, or
  • solicitations where the solicitor has a prior or existing business relationship with the consumer.
4. For the entire statute, see http://www.legis.state.tx.us,see Chapters 37 and 38.
C. No-call lists
If you do not wish to be called by telephone solicitors, find out how to register your number on the national "No-call" list at http://www.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222. For the Texas "No-call" registration, go to http://www.TexasNoCall.com, call 1-866-896-6225, or write P.O. Box 313, E. Walpole, MA 02032.


Additional Resources
A. Lemon Law Resource -
Texas Department of Transportation
Motor Vehicle Division
Consumer Affairs Section
P.O. Box 2293
Austin, Texas 78768-2293
Statewide toll free:
800/622-8682
512/416-4800
512/416-4850 (fax)
http://www.dot.state.tx.us/mvd/lemon/lemonlaw.htm

B. Tow Truck Complaints -
Texas Department of Transportation
Motor Carrier Division
125 E. 11th Street
Austin, Texas 78701
1-800-299-1700 (select option 3)

C. For pamphlets on a variety of consumer topics from the Office of the Texas Attorney General, see http://www.oag.state.tx.us/consumer/brochures.shtml.

D. For mail order complaints, contact
The Direct Marketing Association
1120 Avenue of the Americas
New York, New York 10036-6700
212-768-7277

E. Public Utility Commission
P.O. Box 13326
Austin, Texas 78711-3326
888-309-0600
http://www.puc.state.tx.us/



This site is meant for the exclusive use of students enrolled at Baylor University. This site was written for informational purposes only and should NOT be relied upon as legal advice. Individuals should seek the advice of an attorney regarding specific legal problems. This site contains general information about Texas law, and does not apply to any other state.

There is no warranty made that the material within this site is accurate, or that it is completely free of errors. Students should verify statements and NOT rely upon them as legal advice.

Modified 1-29-09