Attorney General Cuomo Announces New Consumer Protections For Internet Purchases

ALBANY, NY (June 4, 2007) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the passage of a bill to ensure consumers are protected when making online purchases.

“Consumers have recognized the ease and convenience of shopping online, and it’s imperative that state government provide protections as the Internet marketplace evolves,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “We now have legislation in place that provides added protections to New Yorkers shopping online and I applaud the Legislature for quickly passing this new safeguard for consumers.”

Last year, more than 1,000 consumer complaints were submitted to the Attorney General’s Internet Bureau regarding failure to deliver goods ordered online or other improper conduct related to online purchases. The measure affords online consumers the same protections as those who make purchases over the phone or through the mail. Those protections include:

Orders cannot be accepted for merchandise which cannot be reasonably anticipated to be shipped within 30 days.
All advertising and promotional materials must prominently feature: the legal name of the company, complete street address and details about what conditions in which a refund will be issued.
If products fail to ship within 30 days, the company must clearly provide the buyer with the opportunity to cancel the order and receive a refund or receive substitute merchandise.
Companies must maintain records of all complaints of failure to ship merchandise or provide advertised services.
Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno said, “More and more people are making purchases online, but these customers don’t have the same protections they have when making purchases over the phone, or by mail. This legislation puts important consumer protections in place for online shoppers, and I commend Senator Charles Fuschillo for this bill and his ongoing leadership in the area of consumer protection.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, “The advent of ever-changing technology in our daily lives requires that our laws keep pace. This legislation ensures consumers the same right to prompt delivery of goods and services that are required with other retail forms.”

Assemblyman Jack McEneny said, “The bill would protect consumers who shop through the Internet by requiring that their purchases be delivered in a timely manner. Internet businesses will no longer be able to evade the clear intention of the law that has long applied to all other businesses.”

Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., said, “With more and more New Yorkers making purchases on-line, they need assurances that the merchandise they buy arrives at their door and in a reasonable amount of time. This new law will give Internet consumers the same protections as those who make purchases by mail or by phone. I applaud Attorney General Cuomo’s efforts to ensure that New Yorkers who use the Internet are protected.”.”

New York Public Interest Research Group Legislative Counsel Russ Haven said, “This is an important update to the state's consumer protections laws and will give New Yorkers more information and confidence when they shop online – and that's also good for the ‘e-tailers.’”

Charles Bell, programs director for Consumers Union, said, “For e-commerce to be successful, consumers need to have confidence in the online marketplace, and the assurance that sellers on the Internet will follow fair business practices. New York consumers need and expect the same standard of protection for online sales that they have for mail order sales. While most online merchants are fair, prompt and efficient, where businesses fail to ship goods or issue refunds as promised, we believe that consumers need a strong New York watchdog to protect against unscrupulous sales practices. We applaud the efforts of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and members of the Legislature to strengthen our state’s consumer protection laws for online purchases.”

Lois Aronstein, AARP NYS Director said, “AARP commends Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for his leadership and proposing this much needed piece of consumer protection legislation for on-line shoppers. According to a recent industry study, 44 million people age 42 and older have shopped online, including 15% of people age 60 and older who reported shopping online at least a few times per month.”

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