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Ohio Consumer Protection Law


Note: This is Ohio’s “UDAP” law. It generally covers the legal aspects of any transaction between a consumer and most businesses. This law makes it illegal for any business to do anything that is unfair or deceptive or unconscionable to a consumer. The exact text of the important parts of the law follow. This law can be complex to enforce and many merchants and their attorneys know how to misuse the law to avoid their responsibilities. If you have a dispute with a merchant or business, this law can make them pay your attorney fees so contact an experienced Consumer Law attorney right away. Our phone number is at the top of this page.

To download the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act in PDF Format, click here.

OHIO CONSUMER SALES PRACTICES ACT

R.C. 1345.01 et seq

TABLE OF CONTENTS

§1345.01 Definitions
§1345.02 Unfair or deceptive consumer sales practices prohibited
§1345.03 Unconscionable consumer sales practices
§1345.09 Private remedies.
§1345.11 Effect of Good faith error; receiver for supplier; suspension or revocation of license
§1345.12 Exceptions to application of chapter
§1345.13 Effect on other remedies

§1345.01 Definitions.

As used in sections 1345.01 to 1345.13 of the Revised Code:

(A) "Consumer transaction" means a sale, lease, assignment, award by chance, or other transfer of an item of goods, a service, a franchise, or an intangible, to an individual for purposes that are primarily personal, family, or household, or solicitation to supply any of these things. "Consumer transaction" does not include transactions between persons, defined in sections 4905.03 and 5725.01 of the Revised Code, and their customers; transactions between certified public accountants or public accountants and their clients; transactions between attorneys, physicians, or dentists and their clients or patients; and transactions between veterinarians and their patients that pertain to medical treatment but not ancillary services.
(B) "Person" includes an individual, corporation, government, governmental subdivision or agency, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, association, cooperative, or other legal entity.

(C) "Supplier" means a seller, lessor, assignor, franchisor, or other person engaged in the business of effecting or soliciting consumer transactions, whether or not the person deals directly with the consumer.

(D) "Consumer" means a person who engages in a consumer transaction with a supplier.

(E) "Knowledge" means actual awareness, but such actual awareness may be inferred where objective manifestations indicate that the individual involved acted with such awareness.

(F) "Natural gas service" means the sale of natural gas, exclusive of any distribution or ancillary service.

(G) "Public telecommunications service" means the transmission by electromagnetic or other means, other than by a telephone company as defined in section 4927.01 of the Revised Code, of signs, signals, writings, images, sounds, messages, or data originating in this state regardless of actual call routing. "Public telecommunications service" excludes a system, including its construction, maintenance, or operation, for the provision of telecommunications service, or any portion of such service, by any entity for the sole and exclusive use of that entity, its parent, a subsidiary, or an affiliated entity, and not for resale, directly or indirectly; the provision of terminal equipment used to originate telecommunications service; broadcast transmission by radio, television, or satellite broadcast stations regulated by the federal government; or cable television service.

§1345.02 Unfair or deceptive consumer sales practices prohibited.

(A) No supplier shall commit an unfair or deceptive act or practice in connection with a consumer transaction. Such an unfair or deceptive act or practice by a supplier violates this section whether it occurs before, during, or after the transaction.

(B) Without limiting the scope of division (A) of this section, the act or practice of a supplier in representing any of the following is deceptive:
(1) That the subject of a consumer transaction has sponsorship, approval, performance characteristics, accessories, uses, or benefits that it does not have;
(2) That the subject of a consumer transaction is of a particular standard, quality, grade, style, prescription, or model, if it is not;
(3) That the subject of a consumer transaction is new, or unused, if it is not;
(4) That the subject of a consumer transaction is available to the consumer for a reason that does not exist;
(5) That the subject of a consumer transaction has been supplied in accordance with a previous representation, if it has not, except that the act of a supplier in furnishing similar merchandise of equal or greater value as a good faith substitute does not violate this section;
(6) That the subject of a consumer transaction will be supplied in greater quantity than the supplier intends;
(7) That replacement or repair is needed, if it is not;
(8) That a specific price advantage exists, if it does not;
(9) That the supplier has a sponsorship, approval, or affiliation that the supplier does not have;
(10) That a consumer transaction involves or does not involve a warranty, a disclaimer of warranties or other rights, remedies, or obligations if the representation is false.

(C) In construing division (A) of this section, the court shall give due consideration and great weight to federal trade commission orders, trade regulation rules and guides, and the federal courts' interpretations of subsection 45(a)(1) of the "Federal Trade Commission Act," 38 Stat. 717 (1914), 15 U.S.C.A. 41, as amended.

(D) No supplier shall offer to a consumer or represent that a consumer will receive a rebate, discount, or other benefit as an inducement for entering into a consumer transaction in return for giving the supplier the names of prospective consumers, or otherwise helping the supplier to enter into other consumer transactions, if earning the benefit is contingent upon an event occurring after the consumer enters into the transaction.

(E)(1) No supplier, in connection with a consumer transaction involving natural gas service or public telecommunications service to a consumer in this state, shall request or submit, or cause to be requested or submitted, a change in the consumer's provider of natural gas service or public telecommunications service, without first obtaining, or causing to be obtained, the verified consent of the consumer. For the purpose of this division and with respect to public telecommunications service only, the procedures necessary for verifying the consent of a consumer shall be those prescribed by rule by the public utilities commission for public telecommunications service under division (D) of section 4905.72 of the Revised Code. Also, for the purpose of this division, the act, omission, or failure of any officer, agent, or other individual, acting for or employed by another person, while acting within the scope of that authority or employment, is the act or failure of that other person.
(2) Consistent with the exclusion, under 47 C.F.R. 64.1100(a)(3), of commercial mobile radio service providers from the verification requirements adopted in 47 C.F.R. 64.1100, 64.1150, 64.1160, 64.1170, 64.1180, and 64.1190 by the federal communications commission, division (E)(1) of this section does not apply to a provider of commercial mobile radio service insofar as such provider is engaged in the provision of commercial mobile radio service. However, when that exclusion no longer is in effect, division (E)(1) of this section shall apply to such a provider.
(3) The attorney general may initiate criminal proceedings for a prosecution under division (C) of section 1345.99 of the Revised Code by presenting evidence of criminal violations to the prosecuting attorney of any county in which the offense may be prosecuted. If the prosecuting attorney does not prosecute the violations, or at the request of the prosecuting attorney, the attorney general may proceed in the prosecution with all the rights, privileges, and powers conferred by law on prosecuting attorneys, including the power to appear before grand juries and to interrogate witnesses before grand juries.

§1345.03 Unconscionable consumer sales practices.

(A) No supplier shall commit an unconscionable act or practice in connection with a consumer transaction. Such an unconscionable act or practice by a supplier violates this section whether it occurs before, during, or after the transaction.

(B) In determining whether an act or practice is unconscionable, the following circumstances shall be taken into consideration:
(1) Whether the supplier has knowingly taken advantage of the inability of the consumer reasonably to protect his interests because of his physical or mental infirmities, ignorance, illiteracy, or inability to understand the language of an agreement;
(2) Whether the supplier knew at the time the consumer transaction was entered into that the price was substantially in excess of the price at which similar property or services were readily obtainable in similar consumer transactions by like consumers;
(3) Whether the supplier knew at the time the consumer transaction was entered into of the inability of the consumer to receive a substantial benefit from the subject of the consumer transaction;
(4) Whether the supplier knew at the time the consumer transaction was entered into that there was no reasonable probability of payment of the obligation in full by the consumer;
(5) Whether the supplier required the consumer to enter into a consumer transaction on terms the supplier knew were substantially one-sided in favor of the supplier;
(6) Whether the supplier knowingly made a misleading statement of opinion on which the consumer was likely to rely to his detriment;
(7) Whether the supplier has, without justification, refused to make a refund in cash or by check for a returned item that was purchased with cash or by check, unless the supplier had conspicuously posted in the establishment at the time of the sale a sign stating the supplier's refund policy.

§1345.09 Private remedies.

For a violation of Chapter 1345. of the Revised Code, a consumer has a cause of action and is entitled to relief as follows:

(A) Where the violation was an act prohibited by section 1345.02 or 1345.03 of the Revised Code, the consumer may, in an individual action, rescind the transaction or recover his damages.

(B) Where the violation was an act or practice declared to be deceptive or unconscionable by rule adopted under division (B)(2) of section 1345.05 of the Revised Code before the consumer transaction on which the action is based, or an act or practice determined by a court of this state to violate section 1345.02 or 1345.03 of the Revised Code and committed after the decision containing the determination has been made available for public inspection under division (A)(3) of section 1345.05 of the Revised Code, the consumer may rescind the transaction or recover, but not in a class action, three times the amount of his actual damages or two hundred dollars, whichever is greater, or recover damages or other appropriate relief in a class action under Civil Rule 23, as amended.

(C) In any action for rescission, revocation of the consumer transaction must occur within a reasonable time after the consumer discovers or should have discovered the ground for it and before any substantial change in condition of the subject of the consumer transaction.

(D) Any consumer may seek a declaratory judgment, an injunction, or other appropriate relief against an act or practice that violates this chapter.

(E) When a consumer commences an individual action for a declaratory judgment or an injunction or a class action under this section, the clerk of court shall immediately mail a copy of the complaint to the attorney general. Upon timely application, the attorney general may be permitted to intervene in any private action or appeal pending under this section. When a judgment under this section becomes final, the clerk of court shall mail a copy of the judgment including supporting opinions to the attorney general for inclusion in the public file maintained under division (A)(3) of section 1345.05 of the Revised Code.

(F) The court may award to the prevailing party a reasonable attorney's fee limited to the work reasonably performed, if either of the following apply:
(1) The consumer complaining of the act or practice that violated this chapter has brought or maintained an action that is groundless, and the consumer filed or maintained the action in bad faith;
(2) The supplier has knowingly committed an act or practice that violates this chapter.

§1345.11 Effect of Good faith error; receiver for supplier; suspension or revocation of license.

(A) In any case arising under Chapter 1345. of the Revised Code, if a supplier shows by a preponderance of the evidence that a violation resulted from a bona fide error notwithstanding the maintenance of procedures reasonably adopted to avoid the error, no civil penalties shall be imposed against the supplier under division (D) of section 1345.07 of the Revised Code, no party shall be awarded attorney's fees, and monetary recovery shall not exceed the amount of actual damages resulting from the violation.
(B) If a supplier shows by a preponderance of the evidence that a violation was an act or practice required or specifically permitted by federal trade commission orders, trade regulation rules and guides, or the federal courts' interpretations of subsection 45(a)(1) of the "Federal Trade Commission Act," 38 Stat. 717 (1914), 15 U.S.C. 41, as amended, and that the act or practice was not otherwise declared to be unfair, deceptive, of unconscionable by a rule adopted pursuant to division (B)(2) of section 1345.05 of the Revised Code before the consumer transaction on which the action is based, and:
(1) If the case arises under section 1345.07 of the Revised Code, the attorney general is limited to injunctive relief as the only remedy against the supplier for that violation; or
(2) If the case arises under section 1345.09 of the Revised Code, the supplier is not subject to any liability or penalty for the violation.

(C) A receiver may be appointed by the court in an action under section 1345.07 of the Revised Code, if it is shown that the assets of the supplier are in danger of being lost, removed, injured, or dissipated. A receiver may, under the direction of the court, do all of the following:
(1) Sue for, collect, receive, and take into his possession all the goods, chattels, rights, credits, moneys, effects, lands, tenements, books, records documents, papers, choses in action, bills, notes, and other property and assets of every kind and description acquired by any act or practice prohibited by this chapter, including property with which such property has been commingled if it cannot be identified in kind because of commingling;
(2) Sell, convey, and assign all property taken into his possession, and hold and dispose of the proceeds;
(3) Perform any other acts respecting the property that the court authorizes.

Any person who has suffered damages as a result of the use of any act or practice prohibited by this chapter and who submits proof to the satisfaction of the court that he has in fact been damaged, may participate with general creditors in the distribution of the assets to the extent he has sustained out-of-pocket losses.

(D) If a court determines after a hearing in any action brought pursuant to section 1345.07 of the Revised Code that a supplier in the course of performing activity under any license or permit issued by the state or a political subdivision or agency of the state, engaged in a practice that violates this chapter, the attorney general may, within sixty days after the time for appealing has expired, send a certified copy of the court's final judgment and supporting opinion to the issuing authority. Upon receipt of the court's judgment and opinion, the issuing authority shall promptly investigate to determine whether to institute proceedings to revoke or suspend the supplier's license or permit. The court's judgment, findings of fact, and conclusions of law shall be binding upon the issuing authority when it conducts its investigation. The issuing authority shall report its decision or action to the attorney general within twenty days of the conclusion of the issuing authority's investigation. If the issuing authority institutes proceedings to revoke or suspend the supplier's license or permit, it shall report its decision to the attorney general within twenty days of the conclusion of the issuing authority's proceedings.

§1345.12 Exceptions to application of chapter.

Sections 1345.01 to 1345.13 of the Revised Code do not apply to:

(A) An act or practice required or specifically permitted by or under federal law, or by or under other sections of the Revised Code, except as provided in division (B) of section 1345.11 of the Revised Code;

(B) A publisher, broadcaster, printer, or other person engaged in the dissemination of information or the reproduction of printed or pictorial matter insofar as the information or matter has been disseminated or reproduced on behalf of others without knowledge that it violated sections 1345.01 to 1345.13 of the Revised Code;

(C) Claims for personal injury or death.

§1345.13 Effect on other remedies.

The remedies in sections 1345.01 to 1345.13 of the Revised Code, are in addition to remedies otherwise available for the same conduct under state or local law.

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