PA 15-230—sSB 99

General Law Committee

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING NEW CAR DEALERS AND INFORMATION REGARDING THE MAGNUSON-MOSS WARRANTY ACT, WRITTEN NOTICE FOR HOMEMAKER OR COMPANION SERVICE REGISTRIES AND TELEPHONE SOLICITORS WHO MAKE UNSOLICITED AND INTENTIONALLY MISLEADING TELEPHONE CALLS TO CONSUMERS

SUMMARY: This act makes three unrelated changes. It requires:

1. the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) commissioner to compensate anyone who provides material information that results in DCP investigating a telephone solicitor for certain illegal acts that intentionally try to mislead a consumer,

2. new car dealers to provide a written statement notifying a purchaser that federal law prohibits voiding a warranty simply because aftermarket or recycled parts were used on the vehicle or someone other than the dealer serviced the vehicle, and

3. a shorter timeframe for homemaker-companion registries to provide a notice to consumers.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015, except the homemaker-companion registry notice provision takes effect October 1, 2015.

INTENTIONALLY MISLEADING TELEPHONE CALLS

The act requires the DCP commissioner to compensate anyone who provides material information to DCP that results in the investigation of a telephone solicitor for intentionally (1) using a blocking device or service to circumvent a consumer's caller identification device or (2) transmitting inaccurate or misleading caller identification information.

The amount must be paid out of proceeds the state collects from enforcing existing law (presumably for the particular enforcement action). The commissioner determines a reasonable payment, which must be between 15% and 30% of the total amount recovered. By law, a violation is (1) deemed an unfair or deceptive trade practice (see BACKGROUND) and (2) subject to an additional fine of up to $20,000 (CGS 42-288a(g) & (k)).

NEW CAR DEALER NOTICE ON WARRANTY

The act requires new car dealers to deliver to the purchaser of a new vehicle, at the time of sale, the following written statement in at least 10-point boldface type:

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15 USC 2301 et seq. , makes it illegal for motor vehicle manufacturers or dealers to void a motor vehicle warranty or deny coverage under the motor vehicle warranty simply because an aftermarket or recycled part was installed or used on the vehicle or simply because someone other than the dealer performed service on the vehicle. It is illegal for a manufacturer or dealer to void your warranty or deny coverage under the warranty simply because you used an aftermarket or recycled part. If it turns out that an aftermarket or recycled part was itself defective or wasn't installed correctly and it causes damage to another part that is covered under the warranty, the manufacturer or dealer has the right to deny coverage for that part and charge you for any repairs. The Federal Trade Commission requires the manufacturer or dealer to show that the aftermarket or recycled part caused the need for repairs before denying warranty coverage.

Under the act, an “aftermarket part” is one made by a company other than the vehicle manufacturer or original equipment manufacturer, and a “recycled part” is a part made for and installed in a new vehicle by the manufacturer or the original equipment manufacturer and later removed from the vehicle and made available for resale or reuse.

The act does not specify any penalties for failing to provide the notice.

HOMEMAKER-COMPANION SERVICES REGISTRY

The act reduces, from seven calendar days to four, the timeframe in which a homemaker-companion service registry must provide a written notice for the consumer to sign. By law, the notice must (1) be provided after the registry supplies, refers, or places an individual with the consumer and (2) state the registry's legal liabilities to the companion or homemaker.  

By law, such a registry is a person or entity engaged in the business of supplying or referring an individual to, or placing an individual with, a consumer to provide homemaker or companion services when the homemaker or companion is either (1) directly compensated, in whole or in part, by the consumer or (2) treated, referred to, or considered by the supplying person or entity as an independent contractor.

BACKGROUND

Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA)

The law prohibits businesses from engaging in unfair and deceptive acts or practices. CUTPA allows the DCP commissioner to issue regulations defining what constitutes an unfair trade practice; investigate complaints; issue cease and desist orders; order restitution in cases involving less than $5,000 (effective October 1, 2015, PA 15-60 increases this amount to $10,000); enter into consent agreements; ask the attorney general to seek injunctive relief; and accept voluntary statements of compliance. It also allows individuals to sue. Courts may issue restraining orders; award actual and punitive damages, costs, and reasonable attorneys' fees; and impose civil penalties of up to $5,000 for willful violations and $25,000 for violation of a restraining order.

OLR Tracking: DC; CR; VR; BS