Connecticut gives consumers a three-day cooling off period when it comes to certain contracts. But it’s not always as straightforward as it sounds, as a Stafford Springs woman found out.
The clock starts ticking the moment you sign a contract, giving you until midnight on the third business day to change your mind.
Christta Hamil signed a contract for hardwood flooring on a Wednesday and wrote a deposit check for $499.45 at the same time.
The following Monday, she called the company to cancel.
“I thought I was within the timeframe to cancel, so that’s what I tried to do,” Hamil said.
But she was missing a critical piece of information: Saturday is a business day in Connecticut. Which means Hamill’s three-day window was closed by the time she called to cancel.
Hamil says the representative she spoke with told her she was all set and would receive a confirmation call in a couple of days.
When that call didn’t come by Wednesday, a full week after she signed the contract, Hamil called the company again.
“And I spoke with a gentleman who told me we have no record of your phone call, no record of you trying to cancel and you owe us $4,500," Hamil said.
In subsequent conversations with the business, a representative told Hamil she was supposed to submit a written cancellation by mail. Hamil says she never received a cancellation form, which is required under Connecticut law.
"It's something that's important to be with the contract. A lot of people know that they have the right to do this, but it's important that they get that piece of paper," said Lora Rae Anderson with the Department of Consumer Protection.
Around the same time Hamil asked NBC Connecticut Responds to help get her deposit back, we received a similar complaint about the same company from another customer.
That customer also claims the Notice of Cancellation form was not included with her contract.
Our consumer team reached out to the company for answers and advised Hamil and the second customer to file complaints with DCP.
A company spokesperson insisted that all customers receive two copies of the Notice of Cancellation with their contracts.
He also said both customers first asked to change their orders and only requested to cancel after the three-day window expired.
The company agreed to refund their deposits as a show of good faith.
Anderson does not recommend signing a contract on the same day you receive a sales pitch. She suggests taking time to read through the contract and think things over beforehand, rather than trying to cancel later.
“No matter what, if you sign that contract and you want to back out of it, that’s still more work for you. The more you invest on the front end, the better,” Anderson said.
If you do decide to cancel, Anderson recommends notifying the business by phone along with mailing in the written form.
The three-day cooling off period applies to contracts for home improvement, dating services, health clubs and diet programs.
If you do not receive a Notice of Cancellation form along with your contract, you should ask your contractor for one. Don’t sign anything until you receive it.
The Department of Consumer Protection includes a sample Notice of Cancellation form in its handbook for Home Improvement Contractors, which is available online.