- Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
Sometimes a consumer’s expectations about a purchased product or service fall short and you’re unsure of the next steps. Understanding your rights as a consumer are important. If you are unable to resolve a complaint with a merchant informally, then you may decide to take legal action. In these cases, a 30-Day Demand Letter may be a good step to take.
A 30-Day Demand Letter is a letter that consumers are required to send to a business before pursuing a claim in court. Sending this letter is not the same as filing in court, but it is required to pursue a claim. A 30-Day Demand Letter serves to notify a business of a complaint, and explains the harm a consumer has experienced as a result of an unfair or deceptive business practice. The letter also explains what the consumer feels is a fair solution to the problem. These letters should be delivered through the mailed, preferably certified with a return receipt.
Businesses are required to respond in good faith to demand letters within 30 days. If there is no response, consumers may proceed to court, and the merchant could be subject to up to triple damages and legal fees.
The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation compiled the below guide about how to handle a business’ 30-Day Demand Letter response.
- The business responds with an offer. You must make a choice to accept or reject the offer. If you accept, there matter is resolved. If opt to reject the offer, you can take the case to court. Then the court determines if the offer was unreasonable, at which time you may be entitled to recover your actual monetary damages or $25, whichever is greater.
- The merchant refuses to settle. You can take the matter to court where a judge will make a decision on the claim. If the judgement is made in your favor, you can recover actual monetary damages or $25. However, if the court finds that the business chose not to settle in bad faith, you may receive between two and three times the amount of the damages or $25, whichever is greater.
- The business did not respond at all. You may be eligible for your actual monetary damages or $25, whichever is greater.
In all of these cases, except when you reject a reasonable offer, you are also entitled to receive attorney’s fees if you win. Additionally, you may be eligible for double or triple damages if the company’s violation of the Consumer Protection Act was willful and knowing.
For more information about 30-Day Demand Letters, visit the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation’s website: 30 Day Demand Letter | Mass.gov. Additionally, if you have further questions, you can call the Office of Consumer Affairs’ consumer hotline at 617-973-8787 Monday through Friday between 9am and 4pm.