New HampshireDepartment of JusticeOffice of the Attorney General

Consumer Protection BureauConsumer Sourcebook – Door-to-Door & Home Solicitation Sales

A New Hampshire statute (RSA 361-B:2) and federal law, through a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rule, both give consumers a "cooling off" period when they purchase goods or services in their homes worth more than $25.

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Many products and services are provided through door-to-door sales or are sold outside a normal retail environment. Some products are only sold this way, such as Avon products. Because many of these companies have well-known reputations, you can benefit from the convenience of shopping at home and from having the opportunity to see or try the product in your home before you buy it. Nevertheless, one disadvantage of buying from a door-to-door salesperson is that you do not have an opportunity to comparison shop.

The Law

A New Hampshire statute (RSA 361-B:2) and federal law, through a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rule, both give consumers a "cooling off" period when they purchase goods or services in their homes worth more than $25. Except where the FTC rule and the New Hampshire statute are different, we will focus on the New Hampshire statute.

According to the New Hampshire statute, a buyer has three (3) business days to cancel a sale (called "the right to rescind") if:

  • Goods or services are worth $150 or more
  • The transaction was done in a place other than the seller's permanent place of business

And furthermore:

  • The seller must give the buyer either a written receipt or written contract outlining the right to rescind (cancel) the purchase, and the writing must be in the same language that the sale was made.

What Is a Home Solicitation Sale

The New Hampshire statute describes several different kinds of sales that can be classified as a home solicitation sale.

  1. The first is one in which the seller (or any person acting for the seller) engages in the solicitation and sale at a place other than the seller's normal place of business.
  2. RSA 361-B:2 includes sales that are "consummated" at a place other than the seller's normal place of business.
  3. "Home solicitation sales" may also include sales made at flea markets, country fairs, hotel rooms, hotel conference rooms and itinerant roadside stands since they occur at a place other than the seller's normal place of business.

    Example: Salesperson T.P. Vindar goes to Sam Byer's house and gets Byer to order a $50 set of TryChron Dough sauce pans. Vindar does not have the pans with her so Byer fills out forms to send to the TryChron warehouse to order the pans. Byer has 3 days to cancel the transaction and to demand a full refund.

    Example: Ace sales maker T.P. Vindar telephones Jim Goodscout at home to sell him a fabulous coupon book good for "hundreds" of dollars of discounts at "hundreds" of local merchants for $30. Jim agrees to buy the book, and after he hangs up the telephone, Vindar sends her employee to Goodscout's house to deliver the book and pick up a check for $30. A home solicitation sale within the meaning of the statute has probably occurred here because the sale was "consummated" (money changed hands) at Goodscout's home.

What Is Not a Home Solicitation

Neither New Hampshire law nor federal law may cover a situation where you seek out a service or product in the seller's normal place of business, negotiate the terms of the sale there, but complete the sale at home. The FTC rule does not cover such sales, and a New Hampshire seller might successfully argue that the New Hampshire statute does not apply either.

Example: Hank and Helen Whitebread go to the Miracle Kitchens Showroom to price new kitchen cabinets and appliances. While there, they discuss having Miracle Kitchens install the cabinets and appliances for them. Miracle Kitchens sends its salesperson to the Whitebreads' home to measure the kitchen and quote a final price. A court might find that the FTC rule does not cover this transaction. However, if Miracle Kitchens sold additional services or appliances at the Whitebreads' home, the result might be different.

What Information Must Be in the Home Solicitation Sales Contract

The buyer must receive the following information in a home sales contract:

  • The seller's name and place of business
  • The date of the transaction
  • A description of the goods and/or services purchased
  • The amount of money paid and the value of the goods/services delivered
  • A description of your right to rescind, including the following statement:

    Any buyer may cancel this transaction any time prior to midnight of the third business day after the date of this transaction.

The seller must furnish the buyer with either a written receipt or contract at the time of the transaction. The writing must be in the same language that was used for the oral sales presentation. (For example, if the sales presentation was in French, then the contract or receipt must also be written in French.) If the salesperson fails to provide the contract or receipt, the buyer has the right to cancel the contract at any time until a copy of the contract is finally provided. In other words, the three-day right to rescind renews itself until the seller complies with the notification conditions of the law.

Example: A door-to-door sale is "consummated" on Friday, December 24. In deciding when the right to cancel ends, the day of the transaction is not counted because the count starts "after the date" of the sale. Assuming that Saturday, December 25 is a holiday, and Sunday, December 26 is not a "business day," the first day "after the date of" the sale would be Monday, December 27, and the buyer could cancel at any time until 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, December 29.

The term "business day" is not defined. FTC regulations state that Sundays and certain major holidays are not "business days." A business that is open on Saturdays may argue that this is one of its "business days." To be on the safe side, consumers should count Saturdays as "business days."

How Does the Buyer Cancel the Sale

  • Follow the instructions to cancel the contract given on the notice of cancellation. The notice of cancellation will tell you where to call or to send your cancellation notice.
  • Send the cancellation notice to the seller within three (3) business days. Make a photocopy of the notice before mailing it to the seller.
  • If you already have the merchandise, keep it available for pickup by the seller. The seller has 20 days in which to pick it up before you can dispose of the goods in any way you want.
  • The seller has 15 days to refund any deposits or payments that you have made. The law also requires the seller to return any trade-in items.
  • Within 15 days, the seller must also return all signed documents marked "canceled."

Points To Remember

  • Ask to see the salesperson's personal identification. Make note of the person's name, and the name and address of the company the person represents.
  • If at all possible, ask the salesperson to return at a later time to finish the sale. This will give you a chance to do some comparison shopping, either over the phone or in person, to see if the price offered by the door-to-door salesperson is reasonable.
  • Make certain that the following information is given on the receipt or contract you receive from the salesperson:
    • The seller's name and place of business;
    • A description of the goods and services purchased;
    • The amount of money paid and the value of the goods/services delivered to you; and
    • A description of your right to rescind (cooling-off rights).
  • On the contract or receipt, check the salesperson's figures for price, service charges, tax and interest if any.
  • Never sign a contract with blank spaces; everything should be completely filled in before you sign.
  • If you feel threatened or intimidated, ask the person to leave immediately. Don't leave the person unattended in any room of your home. If you are suspicious, call your local police immediately.
  • Remember that these rules do not apply to sale of less than $25, orders placed at a seller's place of business, mail or telephone order sales, emergency repair services, or real estate, insurance or securities sales.

Where To Go If You Have A Problem

Contact the salesperson, or if that person cannot be reached, contact the company's headquarters. The seller's name and place of business must be on the contract or sales receipt.

Contact the Consumer Protection Bureau:

Consumer Protection Bureau
NH Department of Justice
33 Capitol Street
Concord, NH 03301-6397

Contact the Federal Trade Commission.

Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
1-877-FTC-HELP or 1-877-382-4357

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New Hampshire Department of Justice
33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301
Telephone: 603-271-3658