Wisconsin has a direct marketing law to protect consumers in
telephone, e-mail, fax, mail, and door-to-door transactions. This includes
sales made in motel and hotel rooms and other places away from the seller’s
place of business.
Before direct marketers say anything other than a short
greeting, they must disclose who they are, who they are soliciting on behalf
of, and what they are selling.
Before finalizing the sale, and taking a credit card number
or taking any money, they must disclose the cost, quantity, conditions, refund
policy and the name and address of the principal company.
A direct marketer cannot bill your credit card without your
verifiable authorization and the marketers must keep records of transactions
for at least two years.
This law also prohibits:
Threatening, intimidating or harassing consumers.
Failing to leave a consumer’s premises upon request.
Calling consumers who previously said they do not wish to
receive telephone solicitations from that seller.
Calling consumers before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. without
their prior consent.
Representing to consumers that they are conducting a survey
or a contest, when they are trying to sell goods, or attempting to get
information for sales prospects.
Misrepresenting that they are affiliated with a government
or third-party organization.
Requesting or receiving payment for loan finder services
before the consumer actually receives the promised loan. This is aimed at
companies that promise loans, charge a fee, and disappear without producing the
In addition, the law prohibits solicitors from requiring a
purchase as a condition of entry into a prize promotion. The law requires
solicitors to verify the retail value of prizes and disclose the odds of
Three-day cooling-off period
The rule adds enforcement penalties to another Wisconsin law
which provides a “cooling-off” period allowing you three business days to think
about and cancel a direct marketing sale if you wish. This applies to credit
transactions and cash sales of over $25 that occur away from the seller's
regular place of business. The three-day right to cancel does not cover real
estate, auctions, items used for agricultural purposes or insurance even if
sold door to door. Your three-day right to cancel starts after the seller has
provided you the proper written notice of your right to cancel.
Cancelling the contract
In a direct marketing transaction, you must be notified of
your three-day right to cancel. If you do choose to cancel, send your
cancellation by certified mail so you will have written proof that your
cancellation notice was sent on time. Your money must be returned to you within
10 days. If the seller does not pick-up the product in 20 days, you may keep
Under this rule, the direct marketer must obtain your
authorization (either written or oral) before asking for or accepting payment
via a credit card number or submitting a check.
What about things you have received in the mail that you did
not order? Under another state law, unsolicited merchandise is considered a
gift and may be kept without any obligation to the sender. Do not be pressured
to pay companies who make a practice of mailing unordered merchandise on a
“trial basis,” followed by phony invoices.
For more information or to file a complaint against a seller
you believe has violated the law, contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection.