For Immediate Release - February 07, 2007

Lemon Law Arbitration Program Protects Consumers

Savvy Car Buyers Know Their Rights Before Driving Off The Lot

As National Consumer Protection Week continues, Massachusetts Consumer Affairs Director Daniel C. Crane urged consumers who purchase defective cars to make their first line of defense the state's Lemon Law Arbitration Program.

Last year, the Office of Consumer Affairs' New and Used Vehicle Lemon Law Arbitration Program awarded more than $1 million to car buyers who purchased either new or used lemons.

In 2006, more than 3,000 individuals contacted the state's Consumer Affairs Hotline with questions about the Lemon Law or to apply for arbitration.

"The Lemon Law Arbitration Program's successful track record proves that consumers have a valuable tool available to them to get the compensation they deserve," said Crane. "Our program is free, fast and gets results while avoiding potentially lengthy litigation."

Car sales typically increase in February with the launch of Presidents Day advertising campaigns by dealerships. The Office of Consumer Affairs wants car buyers to be familiar with their rights and know that the free arbitration program is available to them if their new or used car turns out to be a lemon.

New Car Buyer Protections

  • Under the New Vehicle Warranty Law, new car buyers are protected with a one-year, 15,000-mile warranty.
  • Car manufacturers are required to repair any substantial impairment to your car within the terms of protection and within a specific number of repair attempts.
  • If your car is not repaired, an arbitrator can order the manufacturer to refund the full purchase price, including credit for a trade-in and other expenses.
  • You are entitled to a refund if:
    • During the warranty period, a defect that impairs the use or safety of the vehicle cannot be repaired after three attempts; plus an additional repair attempt by the manufacturer.
    • A new automobile is out of service for repair for a total of 15 or more business days.

Used Car Buyer Protections

  • The Used Vehicle Warranty Law requires a written warranty that protects buyers against defects that impair the use and or safety of a vehicle with up to 125,000 miles on the odometer.
  • The dealer warranty cannot be waived. Your dealer must give you a signed, dated and correct copy of the warranty at the time of purchase.
  • Dealers are required to repair any defect that impairs a vehicle's use or safety within an applicable timeframe based on mileage of a vehicle at the time of purchase.
  • State law requires used car dealers to post warranty notices on the windows or dashes of all used vehicles for sale.
  • You are entitled to a refund if, within the warranty period, a defect that impairs the use or safety of the vehicle cannot be repaired after three repair attempts or if a vehicle is out of service for repair for a total of 11 or more business days.

No refund? You May qualify for Arbitration.

The state's Lemon Laws allow for arbitration if both parties cannot agree that the standards for a refund have been met. Under the arbitration program administered by the Office of Consumer Affairs, a neutral judge will hear both parties' testimony and determine whether applicable standards were met to qualify the buyer for a refund.

The specific provisions of the Massachusetts Lemon Laws are available online at www.mass.gov/consumer. Consumers with questions or who wish to apply for the state-administered arbitration program may contact the Consumer Affairs Hotline toll-free at (888) 283-3757.

National Consumer Protection Week highlights consumer education efforts in the fight against fraud in communities across the nation. This year, NCPW's national and state consumer officials encourage everyone to read up and reach out to be an informed consumer. By gathering and sharing information, consumers can be more confident, savvy, and safe in the marketplace. To learn more about National Consumer Protection Week visit www.consumer.gov/ncpw .