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Buyer’s Remorse and Contract Cancellation Rights

A buyer who has ever committed to a wrong purchase knows the nagging feeling that accompanies the realization that committing to the purchase of a product was entirely unnecessary. Often informally referred to as “Buyer’s Remorse,” this feeling of extreme regret usually accompanies very expensive purchases, such as automobiles or real estate. Recognizing that consumers do not always make the soundest purchases, the California legislature has provided state laws that give consumers the right to cancel certain contracts after a short period of time (i.e., cooling-off period) if those contracts fall under the Buyer’s Remorse exception.

What Types of Contracts Fall Under the Buyer’s Remorse Exception?

Whether or not a contract falls under the Buyer’s Remorse exception is entirely up to the governing law in a jurisdiction. For example, California does not provide a cancellation period for automobile sales and leases. Unless a specific dealership or lease agreement provides otherwise, buyers do not have the option to cancel an automobile sale or lease without first showing legal cause. In looking to determine whether a buyer may cancel a contract after a showing of legal cause, courts will often look for instances of fraud, undue influence, illegality, or a breach of a duty. However, under California Civil Code section 1689.6(a), buyers maintain the right to cancel a contract from door-to-door sales within three days. The intent of this statute is to protect buyers from overly ambitious salespeople and give buyers the opportunity to reflect on their purchases without the overbearing presence of the salesperson.

What Is the Required Cancellation Procedure Under Buyer’s Remorse Exception?

For contracts that fall under the Buyer’s Remorse exception, the buyer does not need to establish any reason for cancelling the contract. However, it is important to note that this opportunity does not exist for all transactions, and consumers should take care to consult with an attorney to learn about applicable contract cancellation statutes in the specific jurisdiction. Generally, there are no penalties for cancelling contracts that fall within the Buyer’s Remorse exception. Typically, to cancel a contract, a buyer will need to provide the seller with a written notice of cancellation. However, a buyer must provide such notice within the period of time allowed by the statute. Otherwise, the buyer will need to meet the traditional requirements for cancelling a contract. There may also be specific mailing requirements for the notice of cancellation. Buyers looking to cancel a contract within a Buyer’s Remorse exception should seek legal counsel to ensure they are complying with all statutory requirements.

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