Are you a new home owner in the area? Has a salesman come up to your door and tried to sell you a water treatment system? Buyer be ware.

If you purchase a system in this manner, it is possible you may wind up with a lien being placed on your house without your knowledge or consent. Consumers should be especially wary of such sales, since military legal assis­tance offices and state consumer

protection agencies have received several complaints concerning this home solicitation near military in­stallations.

The sales pitch generally begins with a claim that there is some problem with the water. There may be some type of test, purport­edly demonstrating that the water is harmful. The water treatment system may cost anywhere from about $5,000 to about $7,500 and will be financed with a high inter­est loan and monthly payments.

The financing contract will not provide any information

concerning the number of pay­ments, the total cost of financing, or the total cost of the sale after all of the payments have been made. These finance cost items are re­quired to be disclosed for closed­ended credit under the Truth in Lending Act (15 USC 1601) and the implementing rule, Regula­tion Z (12 CFR 226).

For example, when you purchase a motor vehicle on credit or ob­tain a personal loan, this impor­tant information will generally be conspicuously disclosed in the so called “TILA box” in the contract,

a little graph containing these cost elements.

However, contracts for financ­ing some of these water systems are designed as open ended or “revolving” credit, similar to that extended with a credit card and therefore avoid these disclosures. Accordingly, the consumer has no idea how much the deal will ulti­mately cost … and it will be far, far more than the price of the wa­ter system. In fact, consumers re­port receiving monthly statements

indicating that the majority of each payment goes to pay interest rather than principal, and that hardly a dent is made in the principal debt despite years of payments.

Make sure you understand the agreement and what you will owe. Do your research. Is there really a problem with the water in your area? Is this the best deal on a filtration system or can you get a different company with a lower interest rate, etc.?

Consumers should also be aware that the Federal Trade Commis­­sion’s trade regulation rule concern­ing home solicitation sales (16 CFR 429) applies.

When an item costing $25 or more

is sold at the consumer’s home (or at a place rented on a short term basis by the seller), the buyer has until midnight on the third business day after the sale to cancel and obtain a full refund. The seller is required to notify the buyer of this right, verbally and in writing, providing two copies of the cancella­tion form and instructions on how to

c ancel.

The rule does not cover sales in which the buyer has initiated contact and specifically request­ed the seller to visit the buyer’s home for the purpose of repair­ing or performing maintenance on the buyer’s property.

However, if the seller sells the right to receive additional ser­vices or goods, the sale of those additional goods or services is

covered.

Consumers are urged to contact the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg Legal Assistance Office or make appropriate complaints online to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, to the Federal Trade Com­mission Military Sentinel and to the consumer protection office of your state’s attorney general.

XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg Legal Assistance Office

 

Location:

First floor of Soldier Support Center in Wing D.

 

Hours:

Monday, Tuesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday from 1 to 4:30 p.m.; Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

 

Phone:

396-0396 or 396-6113

 

Website:

www.bragg.army.mil/DIRECTO

RATES/

OSJA/Pages/LegalAssistance.aspx