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Consumer Protection, Preserving Your Claim

by Steven R. Merritt, Esq.


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or buying a car. As such, claims involving unfair and deceptive acts abound. This article is a simple procedural explanation, and not designed as a treatise on the various scenarios that amount to what is unfair and deceptive. There are volumes written about what constitutes unfair and deceptive trade practices, and if you feel you are a victim of unscrupulous business tactics you should CALL US NOW at 978-792-8101 or 508-388-9400, and have your case reviewed for free in order to protect your rights. Specific time limitations for asserting your rights and filing your claim exist, so prompt attention is of paramount importance to your case.

Protection for those doing business in Massachusetts can be found in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 93A, §§ 2, 9, and 11. The good news to Massachusetts consumers, conversely the bad news to businesses who have engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices, is that liability under G.L. c. 93A may include an award of double or triple damages along with attorney fees. Business to business liability may also lead to multiple damages and attorney fees in some cases. While G.L. ch. 93A seeks to stamp out methods of unfair and deceptive trade practices, in order to implement this, an aggrieved party must follow a quagmire of procedure in order to reap its protective enforcement measures. In any action, except for business-to-business claims under M.G.L.A. ch. 93A, § 11, a written demand must be sent to the offending entity.

Generally speaking, just writing to the other side does not necessarily qualify as a “sufficient demand” pursuant to the writing requirement under M.G.L. ch. 93A. In order to qualify the letter must set forth with fairly specific description(s) of the alleged injury as well as the relief sought. Next, the letter must refer to statutory and case law criteria such as reference to the Consumer Protection Act itself, the rights of the consumer that were violated, a description and claim that the person acted unfairly or deceptively, that the consumer expects a reasonable offer of settlement within 30 days, and an assertion that the aggrieved consumer will seek multiple damages and attorney fees. It is crucial that competent legal counsel review your claim, and send this letter, or you may find your consumer rights have not been properly commenced. See Mackenzie v. Auto Supermart, Inc., 1988 Mass.App.Div. 5 (1988).

Just because a letter is sent and received does not at all mean the other side will roll over and take out their checkbook with regretful words of contrition. The statute requires a reasonable offer of settlement within thirty days. Certainly if the other party doubts or denies liability they will likely dispute the claim. If, however, a reasonable offer is not made and a court determines that an unfair or deceptive act occurred the offending party would likely have little hope in denying liability under the statute. In a lawsuit, the claims, or counts, involving the Consumer Protection Demand statute is a cause of action all on its own, and other actions in Tort or Contract may also be claimed in the suit.

The law of 93A is a vastly complicated and changing set of rules and precedent. The Law Office of Steven R. Merritt subscribes to case monitoring services to protect their client’s rights. If you feel you have a claim, call or email us, and we will evaluate your case at no cost. In order to facilitate any claim we will need your name and the other party’s name to verify no conflict of interest exists.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established

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It is difficult to not be a consumer, people become consumers whether it is a trip to the doctor’s office, purchasing real estate, buying various goods, retaining an attorney, hiring a contractor or plumber,