Learn about consumer rights and protections

"...to understand what the law is...this strengthens consumer protection.."  -Attorney General TJ Donovan

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We have gathered Vermont's Consumer Protection Rules here, in a mobile-friendly online format, so that you can more easily access them from any device, whenever you need them.

If you have questions, please contact us at 800-649-2424 or AGO.CAP@vermont.gov.

We can't give you individual legal advice, but we can provide general information and connect you with appropriate resources. 

CP100 - Definitions under the Consumer Protection Act

SUBJECT: CONSUMER PROTECTION – DEFINITIONS ATTORNEY GENERAL – PUBLIC PROTECTION UNIT ADOPTED PURSUANT TO 9 V.S.A. SECTION 2453(c)
RULE CP 100
Effective Date: 1/28/74

Except as may be otherwise provided herein, and unless the context otherwise requires, the following Definitions shall apply to all consumer protection rules and regulations promulgated in accordance with 9 V.S.A. Section 2453(c):

(1) "Consumer" means consumer as defined in Chapter 63 of Title 9 of the Vermont Statutes Annotated.

(2) "Goods" means goods as defined in Chapter 63 of Title 9 of the Vermont Statutes Annotated.

(3) "Person" includes individuals, partnerships, corporations, associations, and all other legal entities.

(4) "Seller" means seller as defined in Chapter 63 of Title 9 of the Vermont Statutes Annotated.

(5) "Services" means services as defined in Chapter 63 of Title 9 of the Vermont Statutes Annotated.

(6) "Solicit" means to attempt to persuade a consumer, either in person or through employees, agents, or independent contractors, or through any advertising medium, to purchase goods or services.

(7) "Solicitor" means those persons who solicit consumers to purchase goods or services and who have an economic interest in having the consumer purchase such goods or services.

CP101 - Chain Distributor Schemes

SUBJECT: CONSUMER PROTECTION – CHAIN DISTRIBUTOR SCHEMES ATTORNEY GENERAL – PUBLIC PROTECTION UNIT ADOPTED PURSUANT TO 9 V.S.A. SECTION 2453(c) RULE CP 101
Effective Date: 1/14/72

CP 101.01 Unfair Trade Practice
CP 101.02 Definitions

CP 101.01 Unfair Trade Practice

The promotion or offer of, or the grant of participation in a chain distributor scheme in connection with the solicitation of investments from members of the public constitutes an unfair and deceptive trade act and practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A. Section 2453(a). When so used the scheme serves as a lure to improvident and uneconomical investment. Many individuals lack commercial expertise and anticipate unrealistic profits or economic gain through use of the chance to further perpetuate a chain of distributors, without regard to actual market conditions affecting further distribution and sale of the property purchased by them or its market acceptance by final users or consumers. Substantial economic losses to participating distributors have occurred and will inevitably occur by reason of their reliance on perpetuation of the chain distributor scheme as a source of profit.

CP 101.02 Definitions

(1) "Chain distributor scheme" is a sales device whereby a person, upon a condition that he make an investment, is granted a license or right to solicit or recruit for profit or economic gain one or more additional persons who also are granted such license or right upon condition of making an investment and may further perpetuate the chain of persons who are granted such license or right upon such condition. A limitation as to the number of persons who may participate, or the presence of additional conditions affecting eligibility for the above license or right to recruit or solicit or the receipt of profits therefrom, does not change the identity of the scheme as a chain distributor scheme.

(2) "Investment" is any acquisition, for a consideration other than personal services, of property, tangible or intangible, and includes, without limitation, franchises, business opportunities and services. It does not include sales demonstration equipment and materials furnished at cost for use in making sales and not for resale.

CP103 - Bait Advertising

SUBJECT: CONSUMER PROTECTION – BAIT ADVERTISING ATTORNEY GENERAL – PUBLIC PROTECTION UNIT ADOPTED PURSUANT TO 9 V.S.A SECTION 2453(c)
RULE CP 103
Effective Date: 1/28/74

CP 103.01 Offers Which Are Not Bona Fide
CP 103.02 “Unselling” Advertised Goods
CP 103.03 Limitations of Advertised Offers

CP 103.01 Offers Which are Not Bona Fide

The solicitation of consumers to purchase goods or services when the solicitation is not a bona fide effort to sell the advertised goods or services constitutes an unfair and deceptive trade act and practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A. Section 2453(a).

(a) A solicitation is not bona fide when the seller or solicitor uses a statement or illustration in any advertisement which would create in the mind of a reasonable consumer a false impression of the grade, quality, quantity, make, value, model year, size, color, usability or origin of the goods or services offered or which otherwise misrepresents the goods or services in such a manner that, on subsequent disclosure or discovery of the true facts, the consumer may be switched from the advertised goods or services to other goods or services.

(b) A solicitation is not bona fide if a seller or solicitor discourages the purchase of the advertised goods or services in order to sell other goods or services. Examples of acts or practices which usually tend to discourage the purchase of the advertised goods are:

(1) The failure to reasonably display the advertised goods at the advertised prices, if the goods are advertised for sale in a retail store;

(2) The refusal to show, demonstrate, or sell the goods or services advertised in accordance with the terms of the advertisement;

(3) Disparagement by the seller or solicitor either by acts or words of:

(A) The advertised goods or services; or

(B) The guarantee, warranty, credit terms, availability of service, repairs, or parts or any other aspect of the goods or services; switching of the consumer to higher priced goods or services;

(4) The showing or demonstrating of goods or services which are defective, unusable, or impractical for the purposes represented in the advertisement;

(5) The use of a sales plan or method of compensation for salesmen (or penalizing salesmen) designed to prevent or discourage them from selling the advertised goods or services.

(c) A solicitation is not bona fide if a seller or solicitor fails to have available at all outlets listed in the advertisement a sufficient quantity of the advertised goods or services at the advertised price to meet reasonably anticipated demands, unless the advertisement clearly and adequately discloses the approximate quantity of advertised goods or services available and/or that the goods or services are available only at the designated outlets;

(d) Notwithstanding the fact that a seller or solicitor does have "sufficient quantities" as described in CP 103.01(c), a solicitation is still not bona fide if the seller or solicitor refuses, after the original quantity of goods is exhausted, to take orders for the advertised goods at the advertised price during the period of the sale or, if no period is stated, for a reasonable period of time after the solicitation appears, to be delivered within a reasonable period of time; provided, however, that a solicitation would be bona fide if the seller or solicitor has clearly and adequately disclosed the approximate quantity of advertised goods available or if he cannot obtain the advertised goods within a reasonable period of time at or below the former price to him.

CP 103.02 “Unselling” Advertised Goods

In the event of sale to the consumer of the advertised goods or services, to “unsell” the consumer in conjunction with the sale or attempt to sell other higher priced goods or services in their stead constitute an unfair and deceptive trade act and practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A. Section 2453(a). Examples of acts or practices which violate CP 103.02 are:

(a) Acceptance of a deposit for the advertised goods or services, then switching of the consumer to higher priced goods or services;

(b) Failure to make delivery of the advertised goods or services, or substituted goods or services of equal or greater value, within a reasonable time, or to make a refund;

(c) Disparagement by the seller or solicitor either by acts or words of:

(1) The advertised goods or services:

(2) The guarantee, warranty, credit terms, availability of service, repairs, or parts, or any other aspects of the goods or services;

(d) The delivery of advertised goods or services which are defective, unusable, or impractical for the purposes represented in the advertisement in conjunction with the sale or attempt to sell other higher priced goods or services in their stead.

CP 103.03 Limitations of Advertised Offers

The solicitation of consumers through written or printed advertising, promotional literature, or through radio or television advertising to purchase goods or services when the solicitation does not fully disclose any material exclusions, reservations, limitations, modifications, or conditions constitutes an unfair and deceptive trade act and practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A. Section 2453(a).

(a) Examples of material exclusions, reservations, limitations, modifications, or conditions include the following:

(1) That in order to purchase the advertised goods at the advertised price, other goods must also be purchased;

(2) That the advertised goods, except in unusual circumstances, would not be capable of being picked up by the purchaser at the store, or as a storage area in reasonably close proximity to the store, on the same day that the solicitation is effective;

(b) Such material exclusions, reservations, limitations, modifications, or conditions of written or printed solicitations shall be stated clearly and conspicuously in close proximity to the words stating the offer.

(c) Such material exclusions, reservations, limitations, modifications or conditions of radio or television solicitations shall be disclosed clearly in conjunction with the solicitation.

CP104 - Debt Collection

SUBJECT: CONSUMER PROTECTION – DEBT ATTORNEY GENERAL – PUBLIC PROTECTION UNIT ADOPTED PURSUANT TO 9 V.S.A. SECTION 2453(c)
RULE CP 104
Effective Date: 1/28/74

CP 104.01 Threats of Coercion
CP 104.02 Harassment
CP 104.03 Unreasonable Publication
CP 104.04 Deceptive Representations
CP 104.05 Unconscionable Means
CP 104.06 Practice of Law by Debt Collectors
CP 104.07 Definitions

CP 104.01 Threats of Coercion

The use of any unfair threat, coercion or attempt to coerce in order to collect or attempt to collect any debt arising out of a consumer transaction constitutes an unfair trade act and practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A. Section 2453(a).

Such unfair acts include (but shall not be limited to) the following:

(a) The use, or express or implicit threat of use, of violence or other criminal means, to cause harm to the person, reputation, or property of any person;

(b) The false accusation or threat to accuse falsely or threat to file an action in court falsely accusing any person of fraud or any other crime, or any conduct which would tend to disgrace such other person, or in any way subject him to the ridicule or contempt of society or his community;

(c) False accusations made to another person, including any credit reporting agency, or the threat to so falsely accuse, that a consumer is willfully refusing to pay a just debt;

(d) The threat to sell or assign to another or to refer to another for collection an obligation of the debtor with an attending false representation or false suggestion that the result of such sale or assignment would be that the debtor would lose any defense to the claim.

(e) The threat to sell or assign to another or to refer to another for collection an obligation of the debtor with an attending false representation or false suggestion that the result of such sale or assignment would be that the debtor would be subjected to harsh, vindictive, or abusive collection attempts;

(f) The threat that nonpayment of any alleged claim will result in the arrest of any person or the seizure, garnishment, attachment or sale of any property or wages of any person without proper

notice, and a court order permitting such action unless such action is in fact contemplated by the debt collector and permitted by the law;

(g) The threat to take any action not in fact taken in the usual course of business, unless it can be shown that such threatened action was actually intended to be taken in the particular case in which the threat was made;

(h) The threat to take any action prohibited by this Rule.

CP 104.02 Harassment

The use of any conduct, the natural consequence of which is to oppress, harass, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of or attempt to collect any debt arising out of a consumer transaction constitutes an unfair trade act and practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A. 2453(a).

Such unfair acts include (but shall not be limited to) the following:

(a) The use of profane or obscene language or language that would ordinarily abuse the hearer or reader;

(b) The placement of telephone calls to the debtor without disclosure to the debtor of the name of the business or company the debt collector represents;

(c) Causing expense to any person in the form of long distance tolls, telegram fees, or other charge incurred through the use of a medium of communication by misrepresenting to such person the true purpose of the notice, letter, message or communication;

(d) Causing a telephone to ring or engage any person in telephone conversation with such frequency as to be unreasonable or to constitute a harassment to the person under the circumstances, or at times known to be times other than normal waking hours of the person;

(e) The placement of telephone calls to any person, contrary to his instructions, at his place of employment.

CP 104.03 Unreasonable Publication

The use of any conduct or means which would unreasonably publicize information relating to any debt arising out of a consumer transaction constitutes an unfair act and practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A. Section 2453(a).

Such unfair acts include (but shall not be limited to) the following:

(a) The communication of any information relating to a consumer debt to any employer or his agent; provided, however, that a communication to an employer would be permitted if it were made after a judgment on the consumer debt had been entered against the debtor or made with

the written consent of the debtor or his attorney, or in order to locate the debtor or his residence or his place of employment and no indication of indebtedness is conveyed including the fact that the call is being placed by a debt collection agency;

(b)The disclosure, publication, or communication of any information relating to a consumer debt to any family member of the debtor other than the debtor's spouse or the parents or guardians of a debtor who is either a minor or who resides in the same household with such parent or guardian; provided, however, that the making of such communications would not be considered unfair acts if made after the obtaining of a judgment or if the debtor or his attorney had consented to them;

(c) The disclosure, publication, or communication of any information relating to a consumer debt to any person other than as specified above, other than through proper legal action, process or proceeding;

(d)The use of any form of communication to the debtor which ordinarily would be seen by any other person, except telegrams, that displays or conveys any information about the alleged claim other than the name, address, and phone number of the debt collector;

(e) Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of CP 104.03, the disclosure, publication or communication by a debt collector of information relating to a consumer debt or the debtor to a consumer reporting agency or to any other persons who request such information and who are reasonably believed to have a legitimate business need for such information shall not be deemed to violate this Rule.

CP 104.04 Deceptive Representations

The use of any false, fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading representation or means to collect or attempt to collect any debt arising out of a consumer transaction or to obtain information concerning debtors constitutes an unfair and deceptive trade act and practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A. Section 2453(a).

Such unfair and deceptive acts include (but shall not be limited to) the following:

(a) The use of any business, company, or organization name while engaged in the collection of claims, other than the true name of the debt collector's business, company, or organization;

(b)The failure to clearly disclose in all written communications made to the debtor or to members of the debtor's family in order to collect or attempt to collect a claim or to obtain information about a debtor that the debt collector is attempting to collect a claim and any information obtained will be used for that purpose;

(c) Any false representation that the debt collector has information in his possession or something of value for the debtor;

(d)The failure to clearly disclose the name and full business address of the person to whom the

claim has been assigned at the time of communicating the first demand for money after the date of the assignment;

(e) Any false representations, or any representation which tends to create in the mind of the ordinary debtor a false., impression, of the character, extent or amount of a claim against a debtor, or of its status in any legal proceeding;

(f) Any false representation, or any representation which tends to create in the mind of the ordinary debtor a false impression, that any debt collector is vouched for, bonded by, affiliated with, or an instrumentality, agency or official of the state or any agency of federal, state, or local government;

(g)The use, distribution, or sale of any written communication which simulates or is falsely represented to be a document authorized, issued or approved by a court, a governmental official, or other governmental authority, or which tends to create in the mind of the ordinary debtor a false impression about its source, authorization, or approval;

(h)Any representation that an existing obligation of the debtor may be increased by the addition of attorney's fees, investigation fees, service fees, or any other fees or charges, if in fact such fees or charges may not legally be added to the existing obligation;

(i) Any false representation, or any misrepresentation which tends to create in the mind of the ordinary debtor a false impression, about the status or true nature of, or services rendered by, the debt collector or his business.

CP 104.05 Unconscionable Means

The use of any unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt arising out of a consumer transaction constitutes an unfair trade act and practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A. Section 2453(a).

Such unfair acts include (but shall not be limited to) the following:

(a) The seeking or obtaining of any written statement or acknowledgment in any form containing an affirmation of any obligation by a debtor who has been declared bankrupt, an acknowledgment of a debt barred by a statute of limitations, or a waiver of any legal right of a debtor, without clearly disclosing the nature and consequences of such affirmation or waiver and the fact that the debtor is not legally obligated to make such affirmation or waiver; provided, however, that this provision does not prohibit the accepting of promises to pay that are voluntarily written and offered by the debtor;

(b) The collection of or the attempt to collect from the debtor any part or all of the debt collector's fee or charge for services rendered, unless legally entitled to such fee or charge;

(c) The collection of or the attempt to collect any interest or other charge, fee, or expense incidental to the principal obligation unless such interest or incidental fee, charge, or expense is

expressly authorized by the agreement creating the obligation and is legally chargeable to the debtor, or is legally chargeable under state law;

(d) The initiation of communications with a debtor, other than statement of account used in the normal course of business to inform persons of money due, whenever the debt collector has been notified that the debtor is represented by an attorney and such notice includes the attorney's name and a request by such attorney that all communications regarding the consumer debt be

addressed to the attorney; provided, however, that such communications would be allowed if the attorney has given prior approval to the communications.

CP 104.06 Practice of Law by Debt Collectors

The practice of law by any debt collector, not a licensed attorney, in the collection or enforcement of debts arising out of consumer transactions constitutes an unfair and deceptive trade act and practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A. Section 2453(a).

Such unfair and deceptive acts include (but shall not be limited to) the following:

(a) Performance of legal services, provision of legal advice or making of a false representation or false implication that any person is an attorney;

(b)Any communication with a debtor in the name of an attorney or upon stationery or other written matter bearing an attorney's name.

CP 104.07 Definitions

(1)The term "debt collector" means any person engaging or aiding directly or indirectly in enforcing claims, and includes creditors and their agents when they are so acting.

(2)The term "debt" means money, property, or their equivalent which is due or owing or alleged to be due or owing.

(3)The term "debtor" means a person from whom a debt collector seeks to collect a debt which is due and owing or alleged to be due and owing from such person.

(4)The term "consumer reporting agency" means any person, which, for monetary fees, dues, or on a co-operative nonprofit basis, regularly engages, in whole or in part, in the practice of assembling or evaluating consumer credit information or other information on consumers for the purpose of furnishing consumer credit information to third parties, and which uses any means or facility for the purpose of preparing or furnishing consumer credit reports.

CP105 - Substitution of Products

SUBJECT: CONSUMER PROTECTION – SUBSTITUTION OF PRODUCTS
ATTORNEY GENERAL – PUBLIC PROTECTION UNIT
ADOPTED PURSUANT TO 9 V.S.A. SECTION 2453(c)

RULE CP 105

Effective Date: 1/28/74

CP 105.01 Prohibited Acts
CP 105.02 Definition

CP 105.01 Prohibited Acts

It shall constitute an unfair and deceptive trade act and practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A. Section 2453(a) for a seller or solicitor:

(a) To advertise or promise prompt delivery unless, at the time of the advertising or promise, the seller or solicitor has taken reasonable action to ensure prompt delivery;

(b) To fail to deliver by the delivery date goods ordered by mail or otherwise on which payment has been made or undertaken, in the form of a deposit, down payment or total payment where a definite delivery date has been set unless the seller can show circumstances beyond his control and not within his knowledge at the time the order was accepted which prevented the seller from meeting the delivery date;

(c) To accept an order for goods or services where the seller knows that delivery of such goods or services cannot be made within six weeks, unless a later delivery date is agreed upon, in writing if the order is written, by the buyer and the seller; provided, however, that if the seller does not know whether the goods or services can be delivered within six weeks, acceptance of the order shall not be considered to be an unfair or deceptive act if, prior to accepting the order, the seller advises the buyer, in writing if the order is written, that the delivery date is unknown;

(d) To accept money from a consumer for goods ordered by mail, telephone, or otherwise and then, Unless a later delivery date is specifically agreed upon in writing by the buyer and seller, to permit six weeks to elapse without:

(1) Making shipment or delivery of the goods ordered, as long as such goods conform to samples submitted or to specifications upon which the sale is consummated or induced, or to the representations made prior to securing the order; or

(2) Making a full refund; or

(3) Advising the consumer of the duration of an extended delay and offering to send him an immediate refund, or to send or deliver the ordered goods when they become available, whichever the consumer so requests, and, in such case, to act according to the consumer's request; or

(4) In the case of mail orders and/or mail delivery, furnishing substitute goods of equivalent or superior value and quality as a good faith substitute. In such case, the consumer shall have the right to return such goods, and if the consumer should return the goods to the seller, the seller shall, within fourteen days of the seller's receipt of the goods, refund the amount of money paid by the consumer, including all shipping costs.

CP 105.02 Definition

For the purpose of this rule, goods may not be considered "substitute goods of equivalent or superior value or quality" if they are not substantially similar to the goods ordered, or are not fit for the purposes intended, or if the seller normally offers the substituted goods at a price lower than the price of the goods ordered.

 

CP106 - Disclosure of Refund Policy

SUBJECT: CONSUMER PROTECTION – DISCLOSURE OF REFUND POLICY
ATTORNEY GENERAL – PUBLIC PROTECTION UNIT
ADOPTED PURSUANT TO 9 V.S.A. SECTION 2453(c)

RULE CP 106

Effective Date: 1/28/74

CP 106.01 Prohibited Acts
CP 106.02 Exemptions

CP 106.01 Prohibited Acts

It shall constitute an unfair and deceptive trade act and practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A. Section 2453(a) for a seller to refuse to make a cash refund on cash sales or credit the customer's account on credit sales of non- defective, unused goods purchased at a seller's place of business and returned within a reasonable time from the date of purchase unless the seller discloses at the time of sale that no cash refund will be made on the goods or that cash refunds are made at the sole discretion of the seller. Disclosure of such refund policy must be conspicuously placed on a sign located at the point of display, the cash register, or the store entrance.

CP 106.02 Exemptions

This rule shall not apply to the sale of food items, perishable items, items in substantial part custom-made or custom-finished, and items which by law cannot be resold, even if unused.

CP108 - Odometers

SUBJECT: CONSUMER PROTECTION – ODOMETERS
ATTORNEY GENERAL – PUBLIC PROTECTION UNIT
ADOPTED PURSUANT TO 9 V.S.A. SECTION 2453(c)

RULE CP 108

Effective Date: 1/28/74

CP 108.01 Dealer's Disclosure Requirements
CP 108.02 Time of Disclosure
CP 108.03 Disclosure of Previous Owner
CP 108.04 Definitions
CP 108.05 Exemptions
CP 108.06 Disclosure Statement

CP 108.01 Dealer's Disclosure Requirements

It shall constitute an unfair and deceptive trade act and practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A. Section 2453(a) for a dealer to transfer ownership of a motor vehicle without furnishing to the transferee a written odometer mileage statement signed by the transferor, containing the following odometer information:

(a) The odometer reading at the time of transfer;

(b) The date of the transfer;

(c) The dealer's name and address;

(d) The identity of the motor vehicle, including its make, model, model year, and body type, its motor vehicle identification number, and its last plate number;

(e) The odometer reading at the time the motor vehicle was obtained from the person who previously owned the motor vehicle for purposes other than resale; provided, however, that if such previous owner is unknown, the dealer shall disclose the odometer reading at the time the motor vehicle was transferred to him.

(f)  A statement that the actual mileage is unknown, if the dealer knows that the odometer reading differs from the number of miles that the motor vehicle has actually traveled;

(g) A statement that any inaccuracies on the odometer mileage statement may result in civil liability under the Federal Motor Vehicle and Cost Savings Act and under Vermont's Consumer Protection Law.

CP 108.02 Time of Disclosure

The odometer information required to be furnished by CP 108.01 shall be furnished before any transfer of ownership document is executed.

CP 108.03 Disclosure of Previous Owner

Upon request of the buyer the dealer shall disclose in writing the name and address of the person who previously owned the motor vehicle for purposes other than resale; provided, however, that if such previous owner is unknown, the dealer shall disclose the name and address of the person who transferred the motor vehicle to him.

CP 108.04 Definitions

(a) The term "odometer" means an instrument for measuring and recording the actual distance a motor vehicle travels while in operation; but shall not include any auxiliary odometer designed to be reset by the operator of the motor vehicle for the purpose of recording mileage on trips.

(b) The term "transfer" means to change ownership of a motor vehicle.

(c) The term "transferee" means any consumer to whom the ownership in a motor vehicle is transferred.

(d) The term "dealer" means "new car dealer" and "used car dealer" as defined in Chapter I of Title 23 of the Vermont Statutes Annotated.

CP 108.05 Exemptions

A dealer transferring the following motor vehicles is exempt from the disclosure requirements of CP 108.01:

(a) A motor vehicle having a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 16,000 pounds;

(b) A motor vehicle that is not self-propelled;

(c) A motor vehicle that is 25 years old or older; or

(d) A new motor vehicle prior to its first transfer for purposes other than resale.

CP 108.06 Disclosure Statement

In order to fully disclose the information required by CP 108.02, a dealer should execute an Odometer Mileage Statement in substantially the following form:

ODOMETER MILEAGE STATEMENT

(Federal and state regulations require a dealer to state the odometer mileage upon transfer of ownership. An inaccurate statement may make him liable to you for damages, pursuant to Section 409(a) of the Federal Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act of 1972, Public Law 92-513, and pursuant to Vermont's Consumer Protection Law.)

I, _____________________________________________________________________ state that the odometer mileage indicated on the vehicle described below is ___________________________ miles.

Check the following statement if applicable:

______ I further state that the actual mileage differs from the odometer reading for reasons other than odometer calibration error and that the actual mileage is unknown.

Make                     Body                   Type               Year          Model

Vehicle Identification Number                                                     Last Plate Number

The odometer mileage indicated on the above described vehicle at the time the motor

vehicle was obtained from the previous owner was__________________________ miles.

Dealer's Address_________________________________________________________________

Dealer's Signature________________________________________________________________

Date of this statement______________________

 

CP109 - Contests and Prizes

SUBJECT: CONSUMER PROTECTION – CONTESTS AND PRIZES ATTORNEY GENERAL – PUBLIC PROTECTION UNIT ADOPTED PURSUANT TO 9 V.S.A. SECTION 2453(c)

RULE CP 109

Effective Date: 1/28/74
Revised by Statute 4/26/13

Effective April 26, 2013, this rule does not prohibit a person from requiring or paying any kind of entry fee, service charge, purchase, or similar consideration in order to enter, or continue to remain eligible for, a game of skill or other promotion that is not based on chance. 9 V.S.A. § 2481x.

CP 109.01 Contests
CP 109.02 Prizes

CP 109.01 Contests

It shall constitute an unfair and deceptive trade act and practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A. Section 2453(a) for any person to solicit any other person to engage in any kind of a game of skill, contest, sweepstakes, give-away or other promotion which:

(a) is deceptive or misleading as to chances of winning, the number of winners, the value of the prizes, or the availability of the prize;

(b) requires any kind of entry fee, service charge, purchase or similar consideration in order to enter or to continue to remain eligible; or,

(c) uses publications, literature, written or verbal promotion that is false, deceptive or misleading.

CP 109.02 Prizes

It shall constitute an unfair and deceptive trade act and practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A. Section 2453(a) for any person to represent that any other person is a "winner" or has been "selected" or is otherwise being included in a select group for receipt of a prize or an opportunity or that a person is entering a "contest", "sweepstakes", "drawing", or other competitive enterprise from which a winner or select group of winners will receive a prize or opportunity when, in fact, the enterprise is a promotional scheme designed to make contact with prospective customers and all or a substantial number of those "entering" receive the same "prize" or "opportunity".

CP110 - Deceptive Pricing

SUBJECT: CONSUMER PROTECTION – DECEPTIVE PRICING
ATTORNEY GENERAL – PUBLIC PROTECTION UNIT
ADOPTED PURSUANT TO 9 V.S.A SECTION 2453(c)

RULE CP 110

Effective Date: 1/28/74

CP 110.01 Prohibited Acts
CP 110.02 Former Price Comparisons
CP 110.03 Retail Price Comparisons
CP 110.04 Comparable Value Comparisons
CP 110.05 Miscellaneous Price Comparisons

CP 110.01 Prohibited Acts

It shall constitute an unfair and deceptive trade act and practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A. Section 2453(a) for a seller or solicitor to solicit purchases of goods or services through the use of former price comparisons, retail price comparisons, comparable value comparisons, or other miscellaneous price comparisons which are false or deceptive.

CP 110.02 Former Price Comparisons

(a) A former price comparison shall be considered deceptive if the amount declared to be the former price is not the actual price at which the article was offered to the public for a reasonably substantial period of time in the recent regular course of the solicitor's business, unless an earlier time period is clearly specified;

(1) A former price is not an actual price if it is set at a specific amount for the purpose of establishing a fictitious higher price on which a deceptive comparison might be based;

(2) A former price is not an actual price unless:

(A) the item was offered for sale for a reasonably substantial period of time at that price and a substantial quantity of sales were made at that price; or

(B) the item was openly offered for sale to the public for a reasonably substantial period of time, displayed in a reasonable manner, consistent with the display of items of similar type, and priced at a level established in good faith;

(b) A former price comparison shall be considered deceptive if the seller or solicitor uses the words "sale", "reduced to", or words of similar import in a solicitation when the reduction from the actual former price is less than 10% of the actual former price, unless the solicitation clearly specifies the actual former price and the current sales price, or clearly specifies the percentage by which the actual former price is reduced.

CP 110.03 Retail Price Comparisons

(a) A retail price comparison shall be considered deceptive if the seller or solicitor declares or suggests that his sales price is a bargain price compared to other sellers in the trade area or a price which is substantially less than the prices being charged by other sellers in the trade area unless:

(1) his price is at least 5% lower than the price at which substantial sales of the item are being made in the trade area; or

(2) he sets forth at the time he makes his retail price comparison both his price for the item and the price or prices being charged by the seller or sellers with whom he is comparing prices;

(b) A retail price comparison shall be considered deceptive if the seller or solicitor declares or suggests that his price is less than list price, regular price, or manufacturer's suggested price unless:

(1) A substantial number of sales of the item are being made in the trade area at the list price, regular price, or manufacturer's suggested price; or

(2) If the seller is the only person in the trade area selling the particular item, the list price, regular price, or manufacturer's suggested price meets the qualifications of an "actual former price" as defined in CP 110.02; or

(3) If the particular item has never been sold in the area, the list price is that figure at which the seller or solicitor expects to make a substantial number of sales. At the end of three months, the list price must meet the qualifications of CP 110.03 (b)(1) or CP 110.03 (b)(2).

CP 110.04  Comparable Value Comparisons

A comparable value comparison shall be considered deceptive if the seller or solicitor declares or suggests that his price is a bargain price compared to the price of another item of similar grade and quality unless:

(a) the other item is in fact of similar grade and quality; and

(b) (1) his price is at least 5% lower than the price at which substantial sales of the similar item are being made in the trade area; or

(2) he sets forth at the time he makes the comparable value comparison both his price or prices and the price or prices being charged by other sellers in the trade area for the item of similar grade and quality.

CP 110.05 Miscellaneous Price Comparisons

A price comparison shall be deceptive if it contains statements which declare or suggest conditions which are not true.

Examples of such deceptive price comparisons include:

(a) Advertising a retail price as a wholesale price; and

(b) Representing prices to be factory prices when they are not selling at the prices paid by those purchasing directly from the factory.

CP111 - Regulation of Propane

VERMONT ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE

CONSUMER PROTECTION RULE (CP) 111

REGULATION OF PROPANE
Adopted December 1, 2011
Effective January 1, 2012

CP 111.01   Prohibited Acts
CP 111.02   Definitions
CP 111.03   Disclosure of Prices, Fees, and Terms of Service
CP 111.04   Credit Practices
CP 111.05   Security Deposits
CP 111.06   Cash Sales
CP 111.07   Third-Party Payments
CP 111.08   Minimum Delivery
CP 111.09   Fees
CP 111.10   Delinquency Payment Agreements
CP 111.11   Disconnection of Service
CP 111.12   Heating Season Disconnections
CP 111.13   Notice of Intent to Disconnect
CP 111.14   Restoration of Service
CP 111.15   Termination of Service and Tank Removal
CP 111.16   Refunds
CP 111.17   Privacy
CP 111.18   Discrimination
CP 111.19   Safety
CP 111.20   Effective Date for Existing Contracts

CP 111.01.  Prohibited Acts

It shall constitute an unfair and deceptive trade act and practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A.   § 2453(a) for a seller of propane to violate this rule.

CP 111.02.  Definitions

For the purpose of this rule:

(a) “75-25 rule” means a method of allocating funds received from a consumer who:

(1) is a cash-on-delivery consumer;
(2) has a delinquency;
(3) makes a cash payment for propane to be delivered. A seller may deliver no less propane than can be purchased with 75% of the cash payment and may apply no more than 25% of the cash payment toward the delinquency.  The seller may require that the 75% cover a minimum delivery.  Any allowable fees required for the delivery are not subject to this rule and may be collected in full by the seller prior to delivery. 

Notes for Dealers

New term codifies previously applied 75-25 standard to clearly state that dealers must only deliver the gallons purchased by 75% of the cash payment if applying the remainder toward a delinquency, and may collect any fees for the delivery in full. 

(b) “Cash-on-delivery” or “COD” means an account or bill for which payment is expected at or prior to the time of delivery. 

(c) “Consumer” means any person who purchases propane, for consumption and not for resale, through a meter or has propane delivered to one or more storage tanks of 2000 gallons or less.

Notes for Dealers

While this language is directly from the statute, it is understood the language refers to a capacity of 2000 gallons in the aggregate.

(d) “Credit” means an account or bill for which payment is expected after the time of delivery. 

(e) “Delinquency” means failure of the consumer to make payments in full for a valid bill within 20 days of the postmark date of that bill, or by a due date at least 20 days after mailing or delivery of the bill, which date shall be written on the bill and which shall control in the absence of a postmark.

(f) “Disconnection” or “disconnect” means a deliberate refusal to deliver propane, or a deliberate interruption or disconnection of service by a seller to a consumer previously receiving service from the seller. Non-delivery to a COD account for which payment has not been made as agreed in advance of or at the time of delivery shall not be considered a disconnection under this rule. 

Notes for Dealers

Picking up a tank (or a final reading of the tank) is a “disconnection” (it is a deliberate end to the consumer’s propane service). See also 111.16(a) below. 111.02(f) Not delivering to or locking off a meter for a COD account that has not paid as agreed is NOT a disconnection requiring notice.

(g) “Fee” means any amount charged or billed by a seller to a consumer for propane service, other than for the cost of propane or taxes on propane.  

Notes for Dealers

The term charge has been changed to fee to conform with the statute. Fees regulated by CP111 are those which are for propane service only. Fees such as appliance repair, attorneys fees for collections activities, etc. that are not directly related to or do not otherwise affect propane service do not fall under this rule.

(h) “Fee Disclosure Form” means a form prescribed by the Attorney General’s Office, pursuant to 9 V.S.A. 2461b, after consultation with representatives of the propane industry.

(i) “Heating season” means the time period from November 1st until April 15th of each year.

(j)  “Occupant” means a resident of a dwelling, authorized as such by the property owner or tenant, who is an end user of the propane provided by a seller to a consumer.

(k) “Payment” means receipt, at the seller’s business office or authorized payment agency, of funds in the manner required by the seller.   

(l) “Physician’s certificate” means a written statement by a duly licensed health care provider certifying that disconnection of propane service to a dwelling during the heating season would cause serious harm to the health of an occupant of the dwelling. The certificate shall be considered valid and in force for 30 days from the date of the certificate, or the length of time specified in the certificate, whichever is longer.

(m) “Propane” means liquefied petroleum gas or LPG.   

(n) “Seller” means a retail distributor of propane.   

(o) “60 days notice” means notice given to the consumer on a Fee Disclosure Form which clearly and conspicuously indicates the fee increase or new fee.

(p) “Standard contractual terms” means the terms that a seller customarily includes in its consumer contracts or “terms and conditions”. No contract for propane services shall contain any provision which conflicts with the obligations and remedies established under 9 VSA § 2461b, or any rule or regulation promulgated under that section, and any conflicting provision shall be unenforceable and void. 

Notes for Dealers

Contracts and terms may be oral or in writing.

CP 111.03.  Disclosure of Prices, Fees, and Terms of Service

(a) Upon the request of an individual, a seller shall promptly disclose, over the telephone or in writing, the price or prices of its propane and the fees that are applicable to the consumer based on stated usage and other pertinent information. 

(b) Prior to the establishment of propane service, a seller shall provide to the consumer its terms of propane service and an Initial Fee Disclosure Form (FDF).  An initial FDF issued to a potential consumer upon inquiry or to a new consumer when establishing service must list all of the Seller’s fees, their amounts and the length of time that each amount will remain in effect, except that:

(1) any fee for the termination of service must remain in effect for one year and may not be greater than the price of labor and materials required to terminate service; and

(2) any fee with no stated duration shall remain in effect for one year.

(c) A contract with a consumer for propane service issued after January 1, 2010 shall contain no other fees than have been included on a Fee Disclosure Form provided to the consumer. 

(d)  After establishing service, a seller may increase a fee or add a new fee only by issuing an Existing Customer Fee Disclosure Form.  An Existing Customer FDF:

(1) is effective no sooner than the later of 60 days after the seller mails or delivers the notice to the consumer, and the day after the expiration date set out in the Initial FDF; and

(2) whenever issuing an FDF after service has been established, the seller shall include all the then-current fees and their amounts; and

(3) must clearly and conspicuously distinguish, through increased font size, bolding, or highlighting, the changed fee from the fees which are unchanged from the most recent FDF provided to the consumer.

Notes for Dealers

Per the Rule, the amount and duration of fees must be included on the FDF. Sellers may not charge a “variable” fee or list the fee as “variable – see service agreement.” The purpose of the FDF is to collect all fees in one place for clear disclosure. A seller may leave the duration blank, which means the default duration is one year – see subsection (b)(2) of this Rule. CP 111.03(c): The purpose of this subsection is to ensure that any fee included in a contract entered into on or after January 1, 2010, will have been included in an FDF provided to the consumer. If a fee contained in a contract has been or is banned by legislative amendment, the seller need take no action other than (1) to not charge the banned fee, and (2) to not include the banned fee in any FDF issued subsequent to the amendment. CP 111.03(d): Sellers may change or add fees using the existing customer fee disclosure form and providing 60 days notice to the consumer. Issuing a new FDF does not invalidate a fee for which the term on a previously issued FDF has not expired.

CP 111.04.  Credit Practices

(a) A seller may deny a credit application, or reduce or otherwise restrict the terms of a consumer’s credit arrangement, only if the seller: 

(1) notifies the consumer in writing of the nature of, reasons for, and consequences of, the denial or change (including the impact on propane delivery and/or assessment of fees). The notification shall be mailed or delivered within 10 days of the date of the denial or change, or within 10 days of the date the seller receives a report from a credit bureau on which it is basing the denial or change; and

(2) affords the consumer an opportunity to provide a written or oral response to the denial or change within 15 days of the date the seller mails or delivers its notice, to which the seller must mail or deliver a reply within 10 days of receipt of the consumer’s response, setting forth the reasons for any continued denial or change.

(b) Changes to credit status shall become effective no sooner than 15 days from the date of the notice of change issued to the consumer, or upon satisfaction of the requirements in subsections (a)(1) and (2) of this section, whichever is later.

(c) Except as provided in CP 111.06(a)(2), a seller that changes a consumer’s credit status from credit terms to cash-on-delivery shall not make continued propane service contingent upon immediate payment in full for any remaining balance due for propane delivered under the previous credit terms, but may require payments toward the balance under the 75-25 rule. 

(d) Nothing in this section shall prohibit a seller from transacting a cash sale propane delivery with an applicant for credit during the time periods set out in subsections (a) and (b) of this section using the method of payment and payment allocation authorized in CP 111.06.

(e) No more than 30 days following a propane delivery or service, unless payment has already been received, a seller shall mail or deliver to the consumer an invoice or statement clearly and conspicuously itemizing the amount of propane delivered, the per-gallon price of the propane, the total amount due (including any fees), and the date payment is due. If the seller delivers the invoice or statement other than by mailing or handing it directly to the consumer, it shall place the document in a secure and conspicuous location on the consumer’s premises.

(f) No seller shall bill or collect from anyone other than the consumer any amount for goods or services provided to the consumer, except that the seller may bill or collect from a governmental or private agency or other person who has voluntarily agreed to make such payment.

Notes for Dealers

CP111 does not regulate whether a seller must offer credit terms. Credit decisions are the seller’s alone. This section describes the process for a seller to change or restrict the credit terms of a consumer account, or to move to cash-on-delivery. CP111.04(c): Clarifies how to proceed with collection of delinquency upon change of credit status. This section does not limit the seller’s right to undertake any other lawful collection action available under the contract with the consumer. Regardless of whether payment was received, a consumer always has the right to request and receive the itemized statement described in (e). If requested, a company must provide  an accounting, per the terms of subsection (e).

CP 111.05.   Security Deposits

(a) A seller may require a security deposit only if the seller extends credit to the consumer. 

(b) A seller shall not require a security deposit in excess of two twelfths (2/12) of the consumer’s estimated annual bill.

(c) A seller shall accept a reasonable payment plan for security deposits.

(d) A seller shall refund, within 14 days of disconnection of service, a consumer’s security deposit with accrued interest less accrued charges for propane or accrued fees.

CP 111.06.   Cash Sales

(a) As provided in subdivisions 1 through 3 below, a seller shall deliver propane to a consumer in its geographic service area, according to the seller’s standard contractual terms, if the consumer is ready, willing and able to make, in a manner determined by the seller, payment in advance or at the time of delivery.

(1) If the seller has delivered propane to, or has accepted payment from, a consumer within the previous eight months and the consumer has a delinquency for fees or past propane deliveries, the seller may not deny service, but may require cash-on-delivery and apply cash payments in accordance with the 75-25 rule. 

(2) If a seller has not delivered propane to, or accepted payment from a consumer within the previous eight months, the seller may require payment, in full or in part, of any outstanding balance due. 

(3) If the consumer is serviced by a meter connected to a bulk tank, the seller may require payment for a minimum delivery for a metered account as set out in CP 111.08(c) in advance of the monthly payment cycle.  The seller shall notify the consumer no less than 10 days in advance of the amount due and the date the payment is due. Any deficit or credit shall be applied to the next payment. 

Notes for Dealers

The cash sales requirements apply to any consumer, existing or new, as set out in 1 through 3. If a consumer in a seller’s service area is ready to pay cash and comply with the seller’s requirements for cash deliveries, the seller must deliver. A seller may require receipt of funds prior to delivery, funds in the manner of the seller’s choosing (e.g. cash only, cash or cashier’s check, etc.) and payment in full of any allowable and disclosed fees to establish service or deliver propane. A seller may require cash consumers to pay a reasonable fee limited to the cost of labor and materials of removing a tank in less than one year, as long as the fee is disclosed on the FDF, per Rule 111.09(f)(5). The fee may be charged up front as an advanced payment of an early termination fee. If the consumer does not terminate before the end of one year, the fee must be returned at the end of the year (as if it were a security deposit – see CP 111.05(d)). CP111.06(a)(1): For existing or recent consumers with delinquency, seller can apply 25% of cash payments for propane toward delinquency CP111.06(a)(2): If the last service to or payment from the consumer was more than eight months prior, seller may collect up to the full amount of any delinquency or balance due before agreeing to deliver propane. CP111.06(a)(3): This section together with the minimum delivery standard for metered accounts in CP111.08(c) set out how to apply COD terms to a metered account. Advance payments for propane by a COD consumer is not a security deposit. Advance payment for propane is payment for propane to be delivered.

CP 111.07.   Third-Party Payments

When a seller contracts with a governmental or private agency to make a delivery to a consumer, it shall deliver the full amount of the propane paid for by the agency and shall not require any minimum delivery or security deposit.

CP 111.08.   Minimum Delivery

(a) A seller shall not require a consumer with a tank capacity of less than 250 gallons to make a minimum purchase of more than 100 gallons at a time or more than the total capacity of the consumer’s existing tank, whichever is less.

(b) If the lowest tank capacity of any single tank serving a dwelling is 250 gallons or greater, the following minimum deliveries shall be allowed, but only if the seller offers and allows the consumer to enter into a reasonable payment plan or reasonable yearly budget plan:

250 gallon tank—125 gallon minimum
325 gallon tank—175 gallon minimum
500 gallon tank—225 gallon minimum
1,000 gallon tank—300 gallon minimum.

(c) If a consumer is on a meter connected to a bulk tank, the minimum delivery amount shall be no more than the amount of propane used in that dwelling in the corresponding month of a recent year, or the best estimate of usage if previous usage cannot be determined or usage conditions have changed.  

(d) A seller shall not require a consumer to purchase a minimum number of gallons of propane per year, except as part of a guaranteed price plan.

Notes for Dealers

CP111.08(c) Added to allow for anticipated changes in usage such as new appliances or more or less residents

CP 111.09.  Fees  

(a)  If not prohibited by this rule, a seller may collect a fee:
       (1) when the amount of the fee is disclosed in a written contract or FDF; or
       (2) when the amount of the fee has not been previously disclosed in a written contract or FDF as long as the fee does not conflict with a written contract and only after 60 days’ notice on an FDF issued in compliance with CP 111.03.

(b) (1) A fee does not conflict with a written contract if:

(A) there is no written contract;
(B) the written contract is more than six years old;
(C) the contract is silent with respect to the fee;
(D) the contract has language that permits the addition or amendment of fees;   or
(E) there is an amount and duration for the fee in the contract or FDF, but the    duration has expired or was disclosed as “variable.”

(2)  A fee does conflict with a written contract if:

(A) there is a lesser fixed amount for the fee in the contract, there is no language in the contract permitting a fee change, and the contract is less than six years old; or
(B)  the fee is prohibited by the terms of the contract.

(c)  No fee may be increased or added during the term of a guaranteed price plan that specifies a penalty to the consumer for early termination.

(d) For immediate service or repair, a seller with a written contract issued prior to January 1, 2010, without a related contract term may collect a fee for immediate service or repair only if the seller gives written or oral notice of the fee prior to providing the service.

(e) A seller shall require a delivery fee only when the consumer requests that delivery be made outside of normal business hours or outside of a normally scheduled delivery to the consumer’s geographic area.  In such case, a reasonable fee may be collected if the seller makes reasonable efforts to avoid consumers’ having to incur special delivery fees and provides timely oral or written information on options for delivery and their costs.

(f) A seller shall not misrepresent the nature of any fee, nor collect from a consumer:

(1) any “governmental,” “regulatory,” “environmental,” or other similar fee. This section does not limit the per-gallon price charged by sellers or prohibit collection of any tax allowable under Vermont law;

(2) a minimum usage fee;  

(3) a fee for propane that is not actually delivered to a consumer;

(4) when the propane storage tank has been located on the consumer’s premises for 12 months or more, regardless of ownership of the premises, a fee related to termination of propane service, including a fee:

(A) to remove the seller’s storage tank from the premises;
(B) to pump out or restock propane; or
(C) to terminate service;

(5) when the consumer has received propane service from the seller for less than 12 months, a fee related to termination of service that exceeds the price of labor and materials disclosed on a Fee Disclosure Form or in a contract; 

(6) a tank rental fee for any period of time after the service has been disconnected by the seller or the consumer has notified the seller that the seller’s equipment is no longer connected;

(7) any amounts for the repair of equipment or for any special trip related to the repair if equipment owned by a seller malfunctions through no fault of a consumer or other person authorized to be on the premises;
           
(8) a delivery fee if the seller fails to make a delivery through no fault of the consumer and the consumer runs out of propane as a result; or

(9) a fee, the basis of which is not compliant with any applicable statute or rule. 

Notes for Dealers

CP111.09(a)(1)(E) If a contract indicates that fees may be changed or added, an Existing Customer Fee Disclosure Form must be used, and new charges assessed only (1) after the consumer receives 60 days advance notice, and (2) after the expiration date set out in an FDF previously given to the consumer, or one year if there was not expiration date for that fee. 7 (c) No fee may be increased or added during the term of a guaranteed price plan that specifies a penalty to the consumer for early termination. (d) For immediate service or repair, a seller with a written contract issued prior to January 1, 2010, without a related contract term may collect a fee for immediate service or repair only if the seller gives written or oral notice of the fee prior to providing the service. (e) A seller shall require a delivery fee only when the consumer requests that delivery be made outside of normal business hours or outside of a normally scheduled delivery to the consumer’s geographic area. In such case, a reasonable fee may be collected if the seller makes reasonable efforts to avoid consumers’ having to incur special delivery fees and provides timely oral or written information on options for delivery and their costs. (f) A seller shall not misrepresent the nature of any fee, nor collect from a consumer: (1) any “governmental,” “regulatory,” “environmental,” or other similar fee. This section does not limit the per-gallon price charged by sellers or prohibit collection of any tax allowable under Vermont law; (2) a minimum usage fee; (3) a fee for propane that is not actually delivered to a consumer; (4) when the propane storage tank has been located on the consumer’s premises for 12 months or more, regardless of ownership of the premises, a fee related to termination of propane service, including a fee: (A) to remove the seller’s storage tank from the premises; (B) to pump out or restock propane; or (C) to terminate service; (5) when the consumer has received propane service from the seller for less than 12 months, a fee related to termination of service that exceeds the price of labor and materials disclosed on a Fee Disclosure Form or in a contract; (6) a tank rental fee for any period of time after the service has been disconnected by the seller or the consumer has notified the seller that the seller’s equipment is no longer connected; (7) any amounts for the repair of equipment or for any special trip related to the repair if equipment owned by a seller malfunctions through no fault of a consumer or other person authorized to be on the premises; CP111.09(b)(2): Equipment rental fees tied to usage are permitted so long as an additional minimum usage fee is not also charged.

CP 111.10.   Delinquency Payment Agreements 

(a) Except as provided in CP 111.11(c), the seller shall offer and a consumer may enter into a reasonable Delinquency Payment Agreement to satisfy any delinquency that is the subject of a Notice of Intent to Disconnect that has been issued to the consumer. 

(b) The seller shall mail or deliver in writing to the consumer:

(1) the specific terms of the agreement, including the amount, frequency and dates due for payments from the consumer, and

(2) the actions the seller may take should the consumer fail to uphold the terms of the agreement.

(c) For credit consumers, any Delinquency Payment Agreement shall consider: 
           
(1) the amount of the delinquency,

(2) the consumer’s ability to pay, and

(3) the circumstances that caused the delinquency.

(d) For cash-on-delivery consumers, a Delinquency Payment Agreement may require no greater amount paid towards the delinquency  than would be allowed under the 75-25 rule.

Notes for Dealers

CP111.10 Sets out the standard from former CP111.03(b)(4) that required a reasonable repayment plan. Applies only to those delinquencies for which a Notice of Intent to Disconnect has been sent. ">CP111.10 (d): Provides clarity regarding COD accounts. The delinquency refers to all fees and propane that have not been paid by the consumer at the time a Delinquency Payment Agreement is offered.

CP 111.11.   Disconnection of Service

(a) A seller shall only disconnect propane service without the consent of the consumer if:

(1) there is a delinquency for charges for propane or fees for leak or pressure test, safety check, restart of equipment, after-hours delivery, special trip for delivery, and meter read; 

(2) the entire delinquency is not more than two years old;

(3) the consumer or occupant uses propane as a primary source of heat and the amount of the delinquency which is less than two years old is not less than $60.00 and is not fewer than 60 days past due;

(4) the consumer has been given an opportunity to enter into a reasonable Delinquency Payment Agreement to pay the delinquency.

(b) A seller may proceed with disconnection:

(1) after the seller has mailed or delivered a Notice of Intent to Disconnect in compliance with CP 111.13 at least 14 days, but not more than 30 days, prior to the disconnection.

(2) if the disconnection will not occur on the last day of the week that the seller’s offices are open with personnel available to enter into a Delinquency Payment Agreement.

(3) between the hours of 7:30 A.M. and 2:00 P.M. of the business days specified on a Notice of Intent to Disconnect. The seller may disconnect service after 2:00 P.M. only if the seller has available, for at least 3 hours following the time of disconnection, personnel authorized and able to reconnect service and enter into Delinquency Payment Agreements on behalf of the seller. 

(4) if the individual making the disconnection has immediately informed an adult occupant in each dwelling unit affected by the disconnection that propane service is being disconnected or, if no adult occupant is present in any such dwelling unit, has left on the premises, in a conspicuous and secure place as close as possible to the access to the dwelling unit, a notification advising that propane service has been disconnected and what the occupant has to do to have service restored.

(5) during the heating season if the seller has complied with CP 111.12.

(6) if the consumer has failed to abide by the terms of a Delinquency Payment Agreement and the seller has complied with subsection (c) of this section.

(c) If a consumer has failed to abide by the terms of a reasonable Delinquency Payment Agreement pursuant to a previous Notice of Intent to Disconnect, and the seller has already complied with CP 111.12 and 111.13, the seller may disconnect in accordance with this rule after:

(1) a Notice of Intent to Disconnect is delivered in person to the consumer at least 72 hours prior to disconnection; or

(2) a Notice of Intent to Disconnect is mailed by deposit in a United States post office at least five business days prior to disconnection.

(d) This section shall not apply to any disconnection made necessary for reasons of the immediate health or safety of the consumer or the general public.

Notes for Dealers

CP111.11: It is the position of the Attorney General’s office that compliance with this section is best demonstrated by the maintenance of copies of notices sent and records that describe the actions taken by the seller and the consumer prior to disconnection. CP111 .11(a)(1): The Vermont Energy Act of 2011 restricted the types of delinquencies that can result in a disconnection of service by the seller. 9 (4) the consumer has been given an opportunity to enter into a reasonable Delinquency Payment Agreement to pay the delinquency. (b) A seller may proceed with disconnection: (1) after the seller has mailed or delivered a Notice of Intent to Disconnect in compliance with CP 111.13 at least 14 days, but not more than 30 days, prior to the disconnection. (2) if the disconnection will not occur on the last day of the week that the seller’s offices are open with personnel available to enter into a Delinquency Payment Agreement. (3) between the hours of 7:30 A.M. and 2:00 P.M. of the business days specified on a Notice of Intent to Disconnect. The seller may disconnect service after 2:00 P.M. only if the seller has available, for at least 3 hours following the time of disconnection, personnel authorized and able to reconnect service and enter into Delinquency Payment Agreements on behalf of the seller. (4) if the individual making the disconnection has immediately informed an adult occupant in each dwelling unit affected by the disconnection that propane service is being disconnected or, if no adult occupant is present in any such dwelling unit, has left on the premises, in a conspicuous and secure place as close as possible to the access to the dwelling unit, a notification advising that propane service has been disconnected and what the occupant has to do to have service restored. (5) during the heating season if the seller has complied with CP 111.12. (6) if the consumer has failed to abide by the terms of a Delinquency Payment Agreement and the seller has complied with subsection (c) of this section. (c) If a consumer has failed to abide by the terms of a reasonable Delinquency Payment Agreement pursuant to a previous Notice of Intent to Disconnect, and the seller has already complied with CP 111.12 and 111.13, the seller may disconnect in accordance with this rule after: (1) a Notice of Intent to Disconnect is delivered in person to the consumer at least 72 hours prior to disconnection; or (2) a Notice of Intent to Disconnect is mailed by deposit in a United States post office at least five business days prior to disconnection. (d) This section shall not apply to any disconnection made necessary for reasons of the immediate health or safety of the consumer or the general public. CP111.11(B)(2)(3): Brings former Time of Disconnection section 111.06(a) under this section. Removes former “business days” calculations in favor of easier to follow timing guidance. 

CP 111.12.   Heating Season Disconnections

(a) No seller may disconnect service to any residential consumer who uses propane as the primary source of heat during the heating season, unless, in addition to complying with all other requirements of this rule, the seller has complied with this section.

(b) The seller shall make reasonable attempts to give the consumer actual oral notice of the information required to be in the Notice of Intent to Disconnect under CP 111.13. If actual oral notice has not been given in any other manner, reasonable attempts shall consist of two telephone calls made to the consumer at his or her residence.  One of the telephone calls shall be made between the hours of 6:00 P.M. and 9:00 P.M. on a business day if the consumer has not been reached during the day.

(c) If a consumer cannot be contacted by telephone, a personal visit shall be made to the consumer’s residence and oral notice given at that time.  If no adult occupant is home, a Notice of Intent to Disconnect under CP 111.13 shall be left in a secure and conspicuous place; and

(d) if a dwelling affected by the proposed disconnection is not the consumer’s residence, the notice required by this section shall also be delivered orally, or in person, to an adult occupant in each dwelling unit, with information on what the occupant has to do to have service restored.  If no adult occupant is home, notice containing this information shall be left in a secure and conspicuous place.

CP 111.13.   Notice of Intent to Disconnect

The disconnection notice shall be clearly printed and shall contain all of the following information:

(a) a statement that the consumer’s account is delinquent for charges or fees for propane, leak or pressure test, safety check, restart of equipment, after-hours delivery, special trip for delivery, and meter read, including the amount of the delinquency; and 

(b) a statement that the seller will disconnect propane service, including the dates and times of day when the seller will disconnect service if the consumer does not take appropriate action;

(c) the actions a consumer or occupant must take to avoid disconnection:

(1) pay the delinquency in full by a certain date;

(2) enter into a reasonable Delinquency Payment Agreement to satisfy the delinquency; or

(3) provide the seller with a physician’s certificate, or notice that a certificate will be provided within 7 calendar days;

(d) the names or titles, addresses, telephone numbers and business hours of the seller representatives with whom the consumer may make any inquiry or complaint or arrange a Delinquency Payment Agreement; 

(e) the amount of any fee and any security deposit required for restoration of service and notice of any change in the consumer’s credit status; and

(f) if disconnection is to occur during the heating season, a list, as annually compiled by the Department of Public Service, of the names, addresses and telephone numbers of governmental and private agencies that may provide assistance to consumers in paying their propane bills.

CP 111.14.   Restoration of Service

(a) If service has been disconnected, the seller shall, within 24 hours, restore service upon the consumer’s request when any of the following has occurred:

(1) the cause for disconnection of service has been removed;

(2) the consumer has entered into a reasonable Delinquency Payment Agreement to satisfy the delinquency;  

(3) the consumer makes a payment for delivery in accordance with CP 111.06;  

(4) no delivery is required and:

(A)  the consumer makes a payment for the amount of propane in the tank; or

(B) having not already defaulted on a Delinquency Payment Agreement, the consumer makes a payment for the amount of propane equal to the minimum delivery; any remaining arrearage shall be subject to a Delinquency Payment Agreement.

(b) If the dwelling that is the subject of the disconnection is not the consumer’s residence, the seller shall make reasonable efforts to promptly reestablish service to the dwelling units affected by the disconnection, at the request of their respective adult occupants, subject to the seller’s standard contractual terms and the 75-25 rule. Nothing in this subsection shall require a seller to restore service to an occupant who is not a consumer where the owner of the premises independently either objects to providing service or requests that the seller’s equipment be removed from the premises. 

(c) Restoration of service, to the extent feasible, shall be done so as to avoid charging consumers for overtime wages or other extraordinary expenses.

Notes for Dealers

CP111.14(a)(3): Clarifies applicability of cash sales to restoration of service. CP111.14(a)(4): Describes how to handle a reconnection on a cash basis when no new delivery is needed. The consumer can be charged for the amount of propane that would meet any minimum delivery requirement. CP111.14(b): Sellers may establish new service under the occupant’s name, but may not bill the occupant for the consumer’s delinquent account. A seller is not required to provide credit terms, but may establish service to the occupant as it would with any other new consumer.

CP 111.15.   Termination of Service and Tank Removal

(a) When a seller disconnects or terminates service to a consumer, it shall, at the consumer’s request, remove any storage tank that it owns from the consumer’s premises by the latest of the following dates: 

(1) 20 days from the disconnection or termination or 30 days in the case of an underground tank;

(2) 20 days from the consumer’s request or 30 days in the case of an underground tank; the request must be in writing if the tank was disconnected by someone other than the seller;

(3) in the case of a cash consumer, 20 days from receipt of payment of tank removal fees allowed under section 111.09; or 

(4) as soon as the weather and access to the tank allow. 

(b) A seller shall cooperate reasonably with the consumer’s new seller to exchange tanks, when appropriate, taking into account such factors as tank ownership, access, value, propane remaining in the tank, condition, safety and liability.

Notes for Dealers

CP111.15(a)(1) through (a)(3) have been superseded by statute as of July 1, 2013. The new timeframes are as follows (see 9 V.S.A. § 2461b(h)): (h)(1) A seller who has a duty to remove a propane storage tank from a consumer's premises shall remove the tank within 20 days or, in the case of an underground storage tank, within 30 days of the earliest of the following dates: (A) the date on which the consumer requests termination of service; (B) the date the seller disconnects propane service; or (C) the date on which the seller is notified by the consumer in writing that service has been disconnected. (h) (2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (1) of this subsection, if a consumer requests that a tank be removed on a specific day, the seller shall remove the tank no more than 10 days after the date requested, or within the period required by subdivision (1) of this subsection, whichever is later. CP111.15(a)(4): If the consumer requests tank removal, the seller must remove the tank within the time period specified, or as soon as weather and access allow.

CP 111.16.   Refunds 

(a) When terminating service to a consumer using a seller-owned tank,  a seller shall refund the consumer within 20 days of the date when the seller disconnects propane service or is notified by the consumer in writing that the seller’s equipment is no longer connected,   whichever is earlier:

(1) the amount paid by the consumer for any propane remaining in the storage tank, less any payments due the seller from the consumer; or

(2) the amount paid by the consumer for 80 percent of the seller’s best reasonable estimate of the quantity of propane remaining in the tank, less any payments due from the consumer, if the quantity of propane remaining in the storage tank cannot be determined with certainty. The seller shall refund the remainder of the amount due as soon as the quantity of propane left in the tank can be determined with certainty, but no later than 14 days after the removal of the tank or restocking of the tank at the time of reconnection.

(b) Any refund to the consumer shall be by cash, check, direct deposit, credit to a credit card account, or in the same method or manner of payment that the consumer or a third party on the consumer’s behalf, used to make payments to the seller. Unless requested by the consumer, a seller shall not provide a refund in the form of a reimbursement or credit to any account with the seller.

(c) (1) If the seller fails to mail or deliver a refund to the consumer in accordance with this section, the seller shall within one business day make a penalty payment to the consumer, in addition to the refund, of $250.00 on the first day after the refund was due, and $75.00 per day for each day thereafter until the refund and penalty payment have been mailed or delivered. 

(2) When a penalty due will exceed the amount for which reporting is required by IRS rules, the delivery requirement for the penalty check is met once a seller has cut the penalty check and delivered to the consumer the refund check and a notice that the penalty check is available immediately upon completion of required tax documentation.  A penalty check is “available immediately” if it is available at the seller’s business location closest to the consumer should the consumer indicate that it will be picked up, or the seller will put the check into first class mail, postage paid, on the same day as the tax documentation is received by the seller.

(d) The seller shall accept as the written notice from the consumer required by subdivision (a), any separate written communication to the seller other than one contained on a payment instrument.  The seller is considered notified by the consumer when a representative of the seller receives the notification in hand or by written electronic means, or three days after the notice is mailed by first class mail, postage paid.  Receipt of written electronic notice means the consumer has sent notice electronically and:

(1) the notice was sent to an electronic location (e-mail or instant message address, facsimile or text telephone number, or other electronic media destination) provided by the seller for purposes of business communications with consumers;

(2) the consumer confirms by read-receipt that the message has been opened by the seller; or

(3) the consumer is informed by the seller that notice has been received.

Notes for Dealers

CP111.16(a) Consumer owned tanks are exempt from this provision. CP111.16(a): Must be in a separate writing, cannot be in the memo section of a check or other payment instrument. Consumer must indicate that the seller’s equipment is no longer in service to the consumer. Notice may be sent by the new seller if signed by the consumer. When terminating service to a consumer, Dealers are cautioned to read the meter and refund an appropriate amount under this section. CAP has received a number of complaints where tanks were not picked up for an extended period and the initial 80% refund was not sent. 

CP 111.17.   Privacy

(a) A seller that is required by this rule to provide a written notice, invoice or statement to a consumer or occupant, where the document will be provided at a location where one could reasonably expect unrelated persons to be present (such as the hallway of an apartment building), shall place the document in an envelope or similar packaging, so as to protect the privacy of the communication.

(b) A seller shall not disseminate to, or solicit from, competing sellers the names of past or present consumers with delinquencies. 

Notes for Dealers

CP111.17(b) Does not prohibit the seller from obtaining a standard credit report from a national credit bureau.

CP 111.18.   Discrimination

A seller shall not discriminate in the provision of propane service to any person based on race, creed, color, religion, national origin, sex, ancestry, place of birth, age, physical or mental handicap, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or being a recipient of public assistance.

CP 111.19.  Safety 

(a) No seller shall fill a tank without the permission of the tank owner. 

(b) Nothing in this rule shall supersede any state law, rule or code designed to protect consumer or public safety with respect to propane.  In the event of a conflict with this rule, any such law, rule or code shall take precedence to the extent of the conflict.

(c) No seller shall be required to deliver propane under this section to a consumer whose propane tank or system does not meet NFPA 54 (National Fuel Gas Code) and NFPA 58 (Storage and Handling of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code) of the National Fire Protection Association, or where a documented safety concern exists. 

Notes for Dealers

CP111.19(a): Codifies standard that sellers cannot fill a tank that does not belong to them without the owner’s permission. *Note that Vermont’s Unsolicited Merchandise statute, 9 V.S.A. § 4401, applies to propane fuel that is accidentally delivered or delivered without authorization/permission. CP111.19(b): Sellers do not have to deliver tanks that don’t meet standards or deliver to situations where their employees or equipment are at documented risk (e.g. threats, tampering,) In the case of a safety concern under this section, a seller may immediately disconnect without notice, though notice that service has been disconnected should be left with the consumer or occupant upon disconnection.

CP 111.20.   Effective Date for Existing Contracts 

(a) Any provision of a contract that was in effect as of May 25, 2011 which specifies an amount for any fee that is prohibited by law shall remain valid and enforceable

(1) until the earlier of the date the contract provision expires or April 1, 2012, or

(2) in the case of termination of service to an underground storage tank, the earlier of:

(A) 30 days after the date the contract provision expires or as soon thereafter as weather and access to the tank allow; or 
(B) April 1, 2014.

CP112 - Fair Credit Reporting

SUBJECT: CONSUMER PROTECTION – FAIR CREDIT REPORTING
ATTORNEY GENERAL – PUBLIC PROTECTION UNIT

ADOPTED RULE, PURSUANT TO 9 V.S.A. SECTIONS 2453(c) AND 2480f(c)

RULE CP 112

Effective Date: 4/1/93

CP 112.01 Disclosures to Consumers
CP 112.02 Charges for Certain Disclosures by Credit Reporting Agencies
CP 112.03 Consumer Consent

CP 112.01 Disclosures to Consumer

(a) A credit reporting agency, as defined in 9 V.S.A. §2480a, shall cause its name and telephone number to be listed under the heading "Credit Reporting Agency" in each NYNEX White Pages Directory and each NYNEX Yellow Pages Directory serving the following communities: Barre, Bennington, Brattleboro, Burlington/Middlebury, Newport, Rutland, St. Albans, St. Johnsbury and White River Junction.

(b) The telephone number listed pursuant to Section 112.01 (a) of this Rule shall be the telephone number consumers can use to request the information required to be disclosed pursuant to 9 V.S.A. §2480b(a), which is all information available to users at the time of the request pertaining to the consumer, including but not limited to:

(1) any credit score or predictor relating to the consumer prepared during the six months prior to the consumer's request, or prepared after January 1, 1993, whichever period is shorter;

(2) the names of users requesting information pertaining to the consumer during the prior twelve month period and the date of each request; and

(3) a clear and concise explanation of the information contained in the credit report.

(c) The telephone number listed pursuant to Section 112.01 (a) of this Rule also shall be the telephone number consumers can use to request a free copy of their credit report pursuant to 9 V.S.A. §2480c(a).

CP 112.02 Charges for Certain Disclosures by Credit Reporting Agencies

The requirement of 9 V.S.A. §2480c(a), that a credit reporting agency shall not impose a charge for providing the information required to be disclosed under 9 V.S.A. § 2480b(a) once every twelve months, is not satisfied by providing a consumer with disclosures and reports pursuant to 15 U.S.C. §1 681j within 30 days after receipt by such consumer of a notification that the consumer's credit rating may be or has been adversely affected.

CP 112.03  Consumer Consent

(a) A person required to obtain consumer consent pursuant to 9 V.S.A. §§ 2480e and 2480g shall obtain said consent in writing if the consumer has made a written application or written request for credit, insurance, employment, housing or governmental benefit. If the consumer has applied for or requested credit, insurance, employment, housing or governmental benefit in a manner other than in writing, then the person required to obtain consumer consent pursuant to 9 V.S.A. §§ 2480e and 2480g shall obtain said consent in writing or in the same manner in which the consumer made the application or request. The terms of this rule apply whether the consumer or the person required to obtain consumer consent initiates the transaction.

(b)Consumer consent required pursuant to 9 V.S.A. §§ 2480e and 2480g shall be deemed to have been obtained in writing if, after a clear and adequate written disclosure of the circumstances under which a credit report or credit reports may be obtained and the purposes for which the credit report or credit reports may be obtained, the consumer indicates his or her consent by providing his or her signature.

(c) The fact that a clear and adequate written consent form is signed by the consumer after the consumer's credit report has been obtained pursuant to some other form of consent shall not affect the validity of the earlier consent.

CP113 - Telephonic Home Solicitation Sales

SUBJECT: CONSUMER PROTECTION — TELEPHONIC HOME SOLICITATION SALES

ATTORNEY GENERAL — PUBLIC PROTECTION UNIT

ADOPTED PURSUANT TO 9 V.S.A SECTION 2453(c)

RULE CP 113

Effective Date: 7/1/94

CP 113.01 Definitions
CP 113.02 Required Notices
CP 113.03 Cancellation
CP 113.04 Restoration of Payments
CP 113.05 Violations
CP 113.06 Other requirements

CP 113.01 Definitions

(a) A "telephonic home solicitation sale" is a sale or lease, or the offer for sale or lease, of goods or services with a purchase price of $5.00 or more, whether under single or multiple contracts, where the sale, lease or offer thereof is solicited or consummated by a seller wholly or in part by telephone with a consumer at the residence or place of business or employment of the consumer. A "telephonic home solicitation sale" does not include the transactions listed in the third sentence of 9 V.S.A. § 2451 a(d).

(b) "Business days" mean Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays listed in 1 V.S.A. § 371.

CP 113.02 Required notices

(a) In every telephonic home solicitation sale, the seller shall furnish to the consumer a receipt or contract pertaining to the sale and containing the date of the transaction, the name and address of the seller, and in immediate proximity to the space reserved in the contract for the signature of the consumer or on the front page of the receipt if a contract is not used and in boldface type of a minimum size of ten points, a statement in substantially the following form:

You, the buyer, may cancel this transaction at any time prior to midnight of the third business day after the date you receive both this contract or receipt and the complete notice of cancellation explaining this right as required by Vermont law, which should be attached.

The seller shall send this receipt or contract to the consumer prior to charging the consumer's credit card account, debiting the consumer's bank account, instructing the consumer to send a check or money order, or otherwise initiating payment by the consumer for the goods or services sold.

(b) In addition to the notice described in subsection (a) of this section, in every telephonic home solicitation sale, unless the consumer has made a handwritten and signed request to the seller to provide goods or services without delay in an emergency pursuant to 9 V.S.A.§ 2454(a)(5), the seller shall send to the consumer, prior to charging the consumer's credit card account or otherwise initiating payment by the consumer, two copies of a notice of cancellation, which notice shall be attached to the contract or receipt and easily detachable.

(1) The notice of cancellation shall contain the following information and statements, printed in not less than ten point boldface type:

NOTICE OF CANCELLATION

You may cancel this transaction, without any penalty or obligation, within three business days of receiving this notice and a contract or receipt pertaining to the transaction.

If you cancel, any property traded in, any payments made by you under the contract or sale, and any negotiable instrument executed by you will be returned within ten business days following receipt by the seller of your cancellation notice, and any security interest arising out of the transaction will be canceled.

If you cancel, you must make available to the seller at your residence, in substantially as good condition as when received, any goods delivered to you under this contract or sale; or you may, if you wish, comply with the instructions of the seller regarding the return shipment of the goods at the seller's expense and risk.

If you do make the goods available to the seller and the seller does not pick them up within 20 days of the date of your notice of cancellation, you may retain or dispose of the goods without any further obligation. If you fail to make the goods available to the seller, or if you agree to return the goods to the seller and fail to do so, then you remain liable for performance of all obligations under the contract.

To cancel this transaction, mail or deliver a signed and dated copy of this cancellation notice or any other written notice, or send a telegram, to [name of seller] at (address of seller's place of business] no later than midnight of the third business day after you receive this notice and your contract or receipt.

(2) Before sending copies of the “Notice of Cancellation” to the buyer, the seller shall complete both copies of the notice by entering the name of the seller and the address of the seller's place of business.

(c) In addition to the written notices required by subsections (a) and (b) of this section, in any telephonic home solicitation sale the seller shall, prior to the buyer's receipt of the written notices, orally inform the buyer of his or her right to cancel the transaction.

(d) The cancellation period of three business days shall run from the time the consumer receives the required notices described in CP 113.02.

CP 113.03  Cancellation

Until the consumer has received the notices described in CP 113.02, the consumer or any other person obligated for any part of the purchase price in a telephonic home solicitation sale may cancel the transaction by notifying the seller in any manner and by any means of his or her intention to cancel.

CP 113.04  Restoration of Payments

Within ten days after a telephonic home solicitation sale has been canceled, the seller shall tender to the consumer any payment made by credit card, tender may be accomplished by issuing a credit to the consumer’s account.

CP 113.05  Violations

A violation of this rule shall be considered an unfair and deceptive act and practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A. § 2453(a).

CP 113.06  Other requirements

Except as expressly provided herein, this rule shall not modify any obligations, rights, or legal liability provided for in 9 V.S.A. §2454.

CP114 - Distress Sales

SUBJECT: CONSUMER PROTECTION — DISTRESS SALES
ATTORNEY GENERAL — PUBLIC PROTECTION UNIT
ADOPTED PURSUANT TO 9 V.S.A. SECTION 2453(c)

RULE CP 114

Effective Date: 7/1/94

CP 114.01 Definitions
CP 114.02 Prohibited Representations
CP 114.03 Other Prohibited Conduct
CP 114.04 Required Disclosures

CP 114.01 Definition

A "distress sale" is an offer to sell to consumers, or the sale to consumers of, goods which the seller states or implies has been occasioned by termination or discontinuance of all or part of the seller's business, termination of the seller's lease, fire or other disaster, bankruptcy, the seller's financial hardship, or any similar cause. A "distress sale" does not include a sale conducted by a licensed auctioneer or by public official selling goods under the direction or authority of any court.

CP 114.02 Prohibited Representations

The misrepresentation, expressly or by implication, of any fact relating to a distress sale, including, but not limited to, the following constitutes an unfair and deceptive act or practice in commerce:

(a)   The cause or basis of the sale.

(b)   The former price, savings, quality or ownership of the goods to be sold at the sale.

(c)   The identity of the person or entity conducting the sale.

CP 114.03  Other Prohibited Conduct

The following conduct in connection with a distress sale constitutes an unfair and deceptive act or practice in commerce:

(a)   Advertising the sale with the words "going out of business," "closing out," "shutting doors forever," "bankruptcy sale," "foreclosure," or similar words unless the seller is closing all of its operations in this state.

(b)   Selling an item at a distress sale which the seller ordered with the intention of selling the item at the sale. For the purpose of this provision, it is presumed that any item ordered after a distress sale has begun, or less than 60 days prior to the start of the sale, has been ordered with the intention of selling the item at the sale.

(c)   Continuing a distress sale more than 45 days from the beginning date of the sale unless the fact that the sale has continued more than 45 days is expressly disclosed to the public in any advertisement or other promotional material.

(d)   Within one year of advertising or conducting a distress sale, reopening or resuming the same business in this state under the same or any new name if the ownership and/or control of the business remains substantially the same, unless the seller establishes that there has been a change in circumstances from the time of the distress sale justifying reopening or resuming the business.

CP 114.04  Required disclosures

The failure to include in any advertisement for a distress sale the following disclosures in a clear and conspicuous fashion constitutes an unfair and deceptive act or practice in commerce:

(a)   The beginning and ending dates of the sale.

(b)   If the seller has employed an agent to conduct the sale, the name and business address of the agent.

CP115 - Rent-to-own Disclosures

SUBJECT: CONSUMER PROTECTION – RENT-TO-OWN DISCLOSURES
ATTORNEY GENERAL – PUBLIC PROTECTION UNIT

ADOPTED PURSUANT TO 9 V.S.A. SECTION 41b

RULE CP 115

Effective Date: 1/1/97

CP 115.01       Obligation to Disclose
CP 115.02       General Disclosure Requirements
CP 115.03       Disclosures in Advertising
CP 115.04       Disclosures in Proximity to Merchandise
CP 115.05       Disclosures in Rent-to-Own Contract
CP 115.06       Disclosure of Age of Merchandise
CP 115.07       Preservation of Disclosures
CP 115.08       Definitions
CP 115.09       Exemption for Certain Musical Instruments
CP 115.10       Effective Date

CP 115.01 Obligation to Disclose

It shall constitute an unfair and deceptive trade act and practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A. §2453(a) for any person engaged in the rent-to-own business to rent, or offer to rent, merchandise of any kind on a rent-to-own basis without fully and conspicuously disclosing the terms of the rent-to-own agreement as required by this rule.

CP 115.02  General Disclosure Requirements

(a)   All disclosures required by this rule shall be made clearly, conspicuously, in meaningful sequence, and in accordance with the further requirements of this section. All numerical amounts and percentages shall be stated in figures and shall be printed or legibly handwritten in not less than the equivalent of 10-point type.

(b)   Any information not required by this rule may be supplied with any disclosure required by this rule, but none shall be stated or placed in such a way as to cause the disclosures as a whole to be misleading or confusing, or to contradict, obscure or detract attention from the required disclosures.

(c)   If any rent-to-own transaction is renegotiated or modified in a substantial or material way after the effective date of this rule, including, but not limited to, any change that increases the consumer's payments or other obligations, or diminishes the consumer's rights, such renegotiation or modification shall be considered a new transaction subject to the disclosure requirements of this rule.

(d)   Unless stated otherwise in a clear and conspicuous manner, all terms and conditions required to be disclosed by this rule shall be actually available to all consumers.

CP 115.03  Disclosures in Advertising

An advertisement for a rent-to-own transaction that states or refers to the amount of a payment or the right to acquire ownership of one or more specific items of merchandise shall state:

(a)   that the transaction advertised is a rent-to-own transaction;

(b)   that the consumer will not own the property until the total amount to be paid to acquire ownership is paid in full; and

(c)   for each specific item advertised, the total amount to be paid to acquire ownership, which amount shall be labeled “total cost.”

CP 115.04  Disclosures in Proximity to Merchandise

(a) In the same general vicinity as any merchandise overtly displayed or offered on a rent-to-own basis there shall be disclosed, with sufficient prominence that a consumer inspecting the merchandise would be likely to see the disclosure:

(1)   that the transaction advertised is a rent-to-own transaction; and

(2)   that the consumer will not own the property until he total amount to be paid to acquire ownership is paid in full.

(b) In immediate proximity to each specific item of merchandise overtly displayed or offered on a rent-to-own basis there shall be disclosed:

(1)   the cash price of the item;

(2)   the amount of the periodic payment and the total number of periodic payments required for ownership;

(3)   the total amount to be paid to acquire ownership, which amount shall be labeled “total cost”;

(4)   the effective annual percentage rate associated with the item (which may be accompanied by a statement that this rate applies only if the consumer acquires ownership by making all rental payments);

(5)   a statement as to whether the item is new or used.

CP 115.05  Disclosures in Rent-to-Own Contract

Prior to consummation of any rent-to-own transaction, the consumer shall be given a written agreement with the heading, in no less than 12-point, bold-face type,

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT RENT-TO-OWN

Do Not Sign This Agreement Before You Read It or If It Contains Any Blank Spaces.

The agreement must also contain:

(a) The following general disclosures on the front side of the agreement above the line for the consumer's signature:

(1) the name, address and telephone number of the person offering the merchandise;

(2) the name and address of the consumer;

(3) the date of the transaction;

(4) a description of the merchandise, including any applicable model and identification numbers;

(5) whether the merchandise is new or used, and a description of any damage to the merchandise.

(b) The following cost disclosures, printed and grouped together as indicated below in no less than 10-point, bold-face type on the front of the agreement above the line for the consumer's signature:

Total initial payment for rent-to-own merchandise (A)$

Amount & total of regular payments:

$____/week [mo.] x weeks [mos.] (B)$

Other charges to acquire ownership

(itemize):

____________ $_________

____________ $_________

Total of “Other Charges” (C)$________
TOTAL OF PAYMENTS TO ACQUIRE

OWNERSHIP (total of A, B & C) (D)$____________

CASH PRICE (E)$__________

COST OF RENT-TO-OWN SERVICE (D minus E) $__________

EFFECTIVE ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE (applies only if you acquire ownership by

making all rental payments)_______ %

(c) The following additional disclosures:

(1) that the consumer will not own the merchandise until all necessary payments have been made;

(2) who is responsible for damage to the merchandise and the maximum amount of the consumer's liability;

(3) who is responsible for servicing the merchandise;

(4) a description of any manufacturer's or other warranties on the merchandise, if any, which may be in a separate document furnished to the consumer;

(5) a description of any insurance required of the consumer, or a statement that the consumer is not required to purchase insurance and a description of any insurance purchased by the consumer;

(6) an explanation of all options to purchase, including any early option to purchase;

(7) all deadlines for payments, and the nature and amount of all charges for late payment, default, pickup of merchandise, reinstatement and any other contingency;

(8) an explanation of any right to repossess the merchandise; and

(9) an explanation of the right of any party to terminate the agreement, and to reinstate the agreement.

CP 115.06  Disclosure of Age of Merchandise

Upon the request of a consumer who has entered into a rent-to-own agreement with respect to used merchandise, the person offering the merchandise shall, without unreasonable delay, disclose when the merchandise was purchased new, if known to said person.

CP 115.07  Preservation of Disclosures

Any person offering merchandise on a rent-to-own basis shall preserve copies or facsimiles of all disclosures in advertising, and all rent-to-own agreements containing disclosures required by this rule, for a period of not less than two years after the date the disclosures are made. In the case of a radio or television advertisement, it shall be sufficient to preserve a copy of the script or story board.

CP 115.08  Definitions

The following definitions apply to this rule:

(a) "Advertising" means a commercial message in any medium that directly or indirectly promotes or assists a rent-to-own transaction. Advertising includes, but is not limited to, newspapers, magazines, flyers, mailings, radio, and television. Advertising does not include such commercial messages to the extent that they are displayed exclusively inside the premises where the merchandise being offered is located.

(b) "Cash price" means:

(1) the bona fide retail price at which the person offering merchandise on a rent-to-own basis would sell the item in question to the consumer for cash on the date of the rent-to-own transaction, or

(2) if the item is not offered for sale for cash, then the estimated average cash retail price of the item or a similar item in the market area.

(c) "Clear and conspicuous" means that the statement or term being disclosed is of such size, color, contrast and/or audibility, and is so presented, as to be readily apparent to the person to whom it is being disclosed.

(d) "Effective annual percentage rate" means the annual percentage rate of the merchandise subject to a rent-to-own transaction, calculated in the same manner as an annual percentage rate under section 107 of the federal Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. §1606, except that (a) in place of the finance charge, there shall be substituted the difference between the total of payments to acquire ownership and the cash price, less any amounts specifically excluded from the finance charge under the Truth in Lending Act; (b) in place of the amount financed, there shall be substituted the cash price less any down payment; and (c) it shall be assumed that the consumer will pay the total of payments to acquire ownership in the merchandise.

(e) "Rent-to-own" refers to a transaction in which a person agrees to make merchandise available for the use of a consumer for personal, family, or household purposes, for an initial period of four months or less, where the agreement is renewable with each payment after the initial period, and where the consumer is permitted to become the owner of the property.

CP 115.09  Exemption for Certain Musical Instruments

This rule shall not apply to any transaction to the extent that it relates to a musical instrument that is intended to be used in whole or in part in an elementary or secondary school.

CP 115.10  Effective Date

This rule shall take effect on January 1, 1997.

CP116 - Sale of Vacation Packages

SUBJECT: CONSUMER PROTECTION — SALE OF VACATION PACKAGES
ATTORNEY GENERAL — PUBLIC PROTECTION UNIT

PROPOSED PURSUANT TO 9 V.S.A. § 2453(c)

RULE CP 116

Effective Date: 10/1/98

CP 116.01 Definitions
CP 116.02 Obligation to Comply with Rule
CP 116.03 General Disclosure Requirements
CP 116.04 Disclosures in Written Solicitations
CP 116.05 Disclosures in Oral Solicitations
CP 116.06 Disclosures in Radio and Television Solicitations
CP 116.07 Disclosures at Transient Locations
CP 116.08 Additional Disclosures
CP 116.09 Prohibited Representations
CP 116.10 Other Requirements
CP 116.11 Preservation of Solicitations
CP 116.12 Effective Date

CP 116.01  Definitions

The following definitions apply to this rule:

(a) "Clear and conspicuous" means that the required disclosures are presented in such a manner, given their size, color, contrast and proximity to any related information, as to be readily noticed and understood by consumers. A disclosure is not clear and conspicuous if, among other things, it is ambiguous or it is obscured by the background against which it appears, or by its location within a lengthy disclosure of non-material information. "Clear and conspicuous" also means in an oral communication that the information is presented in a manner that a consumer will hear and understand, at a normal speed in the same tone and volume as any offer made.

(b) "Consumer inquiry" means a communication initiated by a consumer with a seller, except that a communication from a consumer prompted by an earlier communication of an offer from a seller is not a consumer inquiry.

(c) "Consumer response vehicle" means a statement of the telephone number, address, or other method of responding to a solicitation or of indicating acceptance of an offer.

(d) "Mass communication" means a solicitation sent in writing or by electronic mail to more than 100 consumers, or posted on the Internet.

(e) "Material" means likely to affect a person's choice of, or conduct regarding, goods or services.

(f) "Offer" means an offer of specific goods and/or services to one or more consumers, which goods and/or services include a vacation package.

(g) "Represent" and "representation" include any communication, whether made in writing, orally, electronically, on radio or television, or in any other manner.

(h) "Seller" means a person or entity, wherever located, that markets, offers, or sells vacation packages to consumers in the State of Vermont. The term includes any agent of a seller.

(i) "Solicitation" means any communication containing an offer of a vacation package, or designed to interest a consumer in such an offer, regardless of whether the communication is conveyed in writing, orally, electronically (including on the Internet), on radio or television, or in any other manner; except that a communication by a seller in response to a consumer inquiry is not a solicitation within the meaning of this rule. For the purposes of the disclosure requirements contained in this rule, "solicitation" does not include communications from a seller to a buyer of a vacation package which postdate the cancellation period following the consumer's purchase of the package. A solicitation is "written" if it appears in a written or other format capable of being read, including a mailing, print advertisement, or electronic communication. A solicitation is "oral" if it is capable of being heard, including a telephonic communication. Television and radio solicitations are addressed separately in this rule and are not considered to be either written or oral.

(j) "Time-share" means any arrangement whereby a purchaser receives a right to use accommodations for specific periods of time on a recurring basis. The term includes any vacation ownership interest or similar interest. A time-share tour or presentation is considered to be required if (1) the consumer must participate in the tour or presentation in order to obtain certain goods or services, or (2) any of the terms or conditions of the consumer's vacation package may be affected if the consumer does not participate in the tour or presentation.

(k) "Transient location" includes a booth, kiosk, table, or other temporary location used by, or on behalf of, a seller.

(i) "Vacation package" means goods and/or services which involve a stay in a location away from the consumer's home and include at least some accommodations and/or meals.

CP 116.02  Obligation to Comply With Rule

It shall constitute an unfair and deceptive act and practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A. § 2453(a) for any seller to solicit one or more consumers in the State of Vermont without complying with the requirements of this rule.

CP 116.03  General Disclosure Requirements

(a) All disclosures required by this rule shall be made clearly, conspicuously, in meaningful sequence, and in accordance with the further requirements of this section.

(b) Any information not required by this rule may be supplied with any disclosure required by this rule, but none shall be stated or placed in such a way as to cause the disclosures as a whole to be misleading or confusing, or to contradict, obscure, or detract attention from the required disclosures.

CP 116.04  Disclosures in Written Solicitations

In any written solicitation, a seller shall clearly and conspicuously disclose:

(a) That a purchase is required in order to take advantage of the offer or receive the vacation package, if that is the case, either by stating the total price of the vacation package, or by stating the words "Purchase Is Required" in immediate proximity to the first and the most prominent statement(s) of a consumer response vehicle in the offer. If the total price of the vacation package is not stated, and no consumer response vehicle appears in the solicitation, the words "Purchase Is Required" shall be stated in immediate proximity to the first material statement of the offer in the solicitation. The words "Purchase Is Required" shall be printed no less prominently than the consumer response vehicle or statement of the offer in immediate proximity to which they appear;

(b) That the consumer will or may be required or invited to attend a tour or sales presentation for the purpose of interesting the consumer in purchasing a time-share, if that is the case, by stating, as applicable, the words "You will [may] be required [invited] to attend a sales presentation to interest you in buying a time-share." This disclosure shall appear in immediate proximity to the first and the most prominent statement(s) of a consumer response vehicle in the offer, or if no consumer response vehicle appears in the solicitation, the disclosure shall be stated in immediate proximity to the first material statement of the offer in the solicitation; and

(c) Whether or not transportation to the site of the vacation package is included in the cost of the vacation package, and a general description of the accommodations, if any, which are included in the cost of the vacation package.

CP 116.05  Disclosures in Oral Solicitations

In any oral solicitation, a seller shall clearly and conspicuously disclose:

(a) That a purchase is required in order to take advantage of the offer or receive the vacation package, if that is the case, by stating the price of the vacation package, or by stating that the purpose of the call is to sell a vacation package. Such statement shall be made prior to the time that any substantive information about the vacation package is conveyed to the consumer;

(b) That the consumer will or may be required or invited to attend a tour or sales presentation for the purpose of interesting the consumer in purchasing a time-share, if that is the case, by stating, as applicable, the words "You will [may] be required [invited] to attend a sales presentation to interest you in buying a time-share." This disclosure shall be made before the consumer pays or authorizes payment for the vacation package; and

(c) Whether or not transportation to the site of the vacation package is included in the cost of the vacation package, and a general description of the accommodations, if any, which are included in the cost of the vacation package.

CP 116.06  Disclosures in Radio and Television Solicitations

In any solicitation over the radio or television, a seller shall clearly and conspicuously disclose:

(a) That a purchase is required in order to take advantage of the offer or receive the vacation package, if that is the case, by stating the total price of the vacation package, or by stating the words "Purchase Is Required";

(b) That the consumer will or may be required or invited to attend a tour or sales presentation for the purpose of interesting the consumer in purchasing a time-share, if that is the case, by stating, as applicable, the words "You will [may] be required [invited] to attend a sales presentation to interest you in buying a time-share"; and

(c) Whether or not transportation to the site of the vacation package is included in the cost of the vacation package, and a general description of the accommodations, if any, which are included in the cost of the vacation package.

CP 116.07  Disclosures at Transient Locations

In addition to all other disclosures required by this rule, a seller shall clearly and conspicuously disclose, at any transient location in Vermont where vacation packages are offered or advertised, that a purchase is required in order to take advantage of the offer or receive the vacation package, if that is the case, either by stating the total price of the vacation package, or by displaying the words "Purchase Is Required." The price of the vacation package, or the words "Purchase Is Required," shall be displayed in bold, capital letters no less than two inches high in a place readily seen by persons approaching the transient location.

CP 116.08  Additional Disclosures

In addition to the other disclosures required by this rule, a seller shall, prior to a consumer's paying or authorizing payment for a vacation package, clearly and conspicuously disclose to the consumer:

(a) The nature of all governmental charges, other than sales and use taxes, which apply to the vacation package and the actual or estimated amounts of such charges;

(b) The components of the vacation package which may be subject to sales and use taxes; and

(c) The existence of all optional and/or contingent charges (such as hotel upgrades and cancellation fees) which apply to the vacation package.

CP 116.09  Prohibited Representations

In any solicitation, a seller shall not:

(a) Represent, directly or by implication, that there exists some limitation on the availability of the vacation package, including, but not limited to, a representation that the consumer must contact the seller within a certain period of time, that the number of, vacation packages is limited, that only persons of a certain description are entitled to take advantage of the vacation package offer, or that a household is limited to one call to the seller, unless that is in fact the case; except that if the limitation relates to goods or services supplied by a person that is not affiliated with the seller, the seller may rely reasonably upon information provided by the supplier as to the limitation.

(b) Represent, directly or by implication, that a vacation package has been reserved for a consumer, including through the use of the term "reservation numbers" or similar wording, unless the consumer has already paid or authorized payment for the vacation package.

(c) Represent, directly or by implication, that the purpose of contacting a consumer or offering a vacation package is something other than to sell a vacation package or interest the consumer in purchasing a time-share, unless that is in fact the case.

(d) For more than six months in any 12-month period, represent, directly or by implication, that any goods or services are "free," "complimentary," a "bonus," or any similar wording implying that the goods or services will not cost the consumer anything. At least 30 days must elapse before another such offer is promoted; and no more than three such offers may be made in any 12-month period.

(e) Exclude from the stated price of its vacation packages any charges which the consumer is required to pay except amounts that in their entirety are directly passed on to a governmental entity (for example, taxes and visa fees).

(f) Misrepresent, directly or by implication, the nature of any costs associated with a vacation package, including, but not limited to, describing non-governmental charges as "port taxes," "port fees," or similar wording.

(g) Misrepresent, directly or by implication, the nature of any solicitation or offer, including, but not limited to, misrepresenting that the solicitation comprises or includes "booking passes," "credit vouchers," or any similar thing.

(h) Misrepresent, directly or by implication, the identity of the seller, including, but not limited to, representing that the seller is connected to a government agency by referring to documents as “registered” (unless they are sent by registered mail), citing the possibility of criminal penalties on the front of an envelope, or using the names of corporate departments that are non-existent or do not represent actual entities.

(i) Misrepresent any other material fact relating to the solicitation, the offer, or the vacation package.

CP 116.10  Other Requirements

(a) A seller shall comply with all statutes and regulations of the State of Vermont, including, as applicable, 9 V.S.A. § 2454 and CP 113, which relate to the right of a consumer to cancel a telephonic transaction, and which set forth requirements as to giving notice of that right, and CP 109, which prohibits certain representations of special selection.

(b) If under the law of some other state a seller is required to provide to Vermont residents a more extensive right (or notice of right) to cancel, than does the law of the State of Vermont, that more extensive right (or notice) shall be clearly and conspicuously disclosed in connection with, and at the same time as, the notice of the right to cancel required by Vermont law.

(c) A seller shall comply with the Federal Trade Commission's Telemarketing Sales Rule, 16 C. F. R. part 310, as applicable.

CP 116.11  Preservation of Solicitations

A seller that solicits in or into the State of Vermont shall preserve examples of all newspaper and periodical solicitations, mass communications, and television solicitations, and of all telephonic scripts and rebuttals, for a period of not less than three years after the date the document or advertisement was last used. In the case of electronic solicitations, it shall be sufficient to preserve a hard copy of the communication. In the case of television advertisements, it shall be sufficient to preserve a copy of the storyboard.

CP 116.12  Effective Date

This rule shall take effect on October 1, 1998.

CP117 - Statements of Origin

SUBJECT: CONSUMER PROTECTION — STATEMENTS OF ORIGIN
ATTORNEY GENERAL — PUBLIC PROTECTION UNIT
PROPOSED PURSUANT TO 9 V.S.A. §2453(c)

RULE CP 117

Effective Date: 7/11/98

CP 117.01 Definitions
CP 117.02 Obligation to Comply with Rule
CP 117.03 Meaning of Advertised Terms

CP 117.01  Definitions

(a) "Advertisement" means any communication offering goods for sale and directed to the public or to a substantial number of consumers, regardless of whether the communication is conveyed in writing, orally, electronically, on radio or television, or in any other manner.

(b) "As prominently as" means that a disclosure is presented in the same or a substantially similar manner as the representation to which it is compared, taking into account size, contrast, color and placement in the case of written advertisements, and tone, volume and timing in the case of oral advertisements.

(c) For the purpose of this rule, "goods" means fresh fruits and vegetables.

(d) "Originate" means grown and harvested.

(e) "Seller" means a person regularly engaged in selling goods to consumers.

CP 117.02  Obligation to Comply with Rule

It shall constitute an unfair and deceptive act and practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A. §2453(a) for any seller to advertise in or into the State of Vermont without complying with the requirements of this rule.

CP 117.03  Meaning of Advertised Terms

The following terms shall not be used in any advertisement unless they have the meaning set forth in this section:

(a) "Local," "locally grown," and any substantially similar term shall mean that the goods being advertised originated within 30 miles of the place where they are sold, measured directly, poi-nt to point; except that the term "local" may be used in conjunction with a specific geographic location, such as "local to New England," as long as the specific geographic location appears as prominently as the term "local" and the representation of origin is accurate.

(b) “Native” or any substantially similar term shall mean that the goods being advertised originated within the State of Vermont; except that the term “native” may be used in conjunction with a specific geographic location, such as “native Alaskan,” as long as the specific geographic location appears as prominently as the term “native” and the representation of origin is accurate.

(c) “Farm fresh” and any substantially similar term shall mean that the goods being advertised were delivered directly from the farm where they originated to the place of sale and were offered for sale within a reasonably short time of harvesting, taking into account the nature of the produce.

(d) “Our own” and any substantially similar term shall mean that the goods being advertised were grown and harvested by the seller or by a business owned and operated by the seller.

Note on Rule 117:

The Vermont Consumer Protection Act was amended by Vermont Act 207, which became effective on June 11, 2008, to define the terms “local” and “locally grown” used in the advertising of any goods as follows:

For the purposes of this chapter and rules adopted pursuant to subsection 2453(c) of this chapter, “local,” “locally grown,” and any substantially similar term shall mean that the goods being advertised originated within Vermont or 30 miles of the place where they are sold, measured directly, point to point, except that the term “local” may be used in conjunction with a specific geographic location, such as “local to New England,” or a specific mile radius, such as “local–within 100 miles,” as long as the specific geographic location or mile radius appears as prominently as the term “local,” and the representation of origin is accurate.

Act 207 effectively amended Consumer Protection Rule (CP) 117.03(a), which defines “local” and “locally grown” (with respect to fresh fruits and vegetables only) based solely on the “30-mile” criterion. As a result, the terms “local” and “locally grown” may now be used if the goods so advertised originated either within 30 miles of the place of sale or within the State of Vermont.

CP118 - Automobile Advertising

SUBJECT: CONSUMER PROTECTION – AUTOMOBILE ADVERTISING
ATTORNEY GENERAL – PUBLIC PROTECTION UNIT
ADOPTED PURSUANT TO 9 V.S.A. SECTION 2453(c)

RULE CP 118

Effective Date: 12/10/98

CP 118.01 Definitions
CP 118.02 General Provisions
CP 118.03 Advertising Layout
CP 118.04 Specific Advertising Provisions
CP 118.05 Savings Claims, Rebates and Trade-ins
CP 118.06 Credit Sales and Lease Advertising

CP 118.01  Definitions

(a) "ADVERTISEMENT," "ADVERTISING" or "AD," unless otherwise noted, means any oral, written or graphic statement made by, for, or in the name of a car dealer that is in any manner connected with the solicitation of business. The term includes statements made in newspapers or other publications or on radio or television, or contained in any sign, motor vehicle window sticker, circular, brochure, letter, or other writing.

(b) "DEALER" means a person or company that is regularly and principally engaged in the business of selling or leasing motor vehicles, or that solicits the sale or lease of such vehicles, to individuals for their own use.

(c) "MONRONEY STICKER" means the window sticker required by the federal Automobile Information Disclosure Act, 15 U.S.C. §1231 et  seq.

(d) "MOTOR VEHICLE" or "VEHICLE" means any self-propelled passenger motor vehicle.

(e) "NEW MOTOR VEHICLE" means a passenger motor vehicle which has been sold to a new motor vehicle dealer by a manufacturer or distributor and which has not been used for other than demonstration or driver education purposes and on which the original title has not been issued from the new motor vehicle dealer.

(f) "USED MOTOR VEHICLE" means any vehicle other than a new motor vehicle.

CP 118.02  General Provisions

(a) ENFORCEMENT NOT LIMITED: The fact that a particular advertising practice is not expressly referred to in this rule does not limit the Attorney General's authority to take legal action with respect to that practice under the Consumer Protection Act. Dealers are also responsible for complying with other laws and regulations affecting advertising (for example, federal Truth-in-Lending, Truth-in-Leasing, and regulations of the Federal Trade Commission).

(b) GENERAL PROHIBITION AGAINST UNFAIR AND DECEPTIVE ADVERTISING: All automobile advertising by dealers, whether printed or broadcast, shall be in plain language, clear and conspicuous and non-deceptive. By way of example and not of limitation, the following shall be considered deceptive:

(1) direct statements or reasonable inferences that have the tendency to mislead consumers;

(2) advertising whose overall impression has the tendency to mislead consumers;

(3) disclaimers that contradict, confuse or unreasonably limit or significantly alter a principal message of an advertisement;

(4) the failure to disclose any limitations, disclaimers, qualifications, conditions, exclusions or restrictions;

(5) statements susceptible to both a misleading and a truthful interpretation;

(6) statements for which the dealer does not have reasonable substantiation; and

(7) a first contact with a consumer secured by deception, even though the true facts are subsequently made known to the consumer.

(c) COMPLAINTS NOT NECESSARY: An advertisement may be deceptive even though no consumer has complained about it.

(d) DISCLOSURES: All disclosures in advertising shall be clear and conspicuous and in close proximity to the terms they modify.

(e) SELLING IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE TERMS: A dealer shall not refuse to sell a motor vehicle in accordance with any terms or conditions which the dealer has advertised; except that it shall not be considered a violation of this subsection where either:

(1) the dealer can document that the advertised term was the result of an error on the part of the advertising medium or an outside advertising agent, or

(2) the error was made in good faith by the dealer and was clearly and conspicuously a mistake (e.g., a vehicle advertised at "$1,000" rather than "$10,000"), and

(3) the dealer corrected the error as soon as he or she knew or reasonably should have known of it.

(f) RESPONSIBILITY FOR ADVERTISING: The dealer is responsible for knowing the law as it applies to advertising and is ultimately responsible for his or her advertising product. This does not preclude a finding that parties other than the dealer are also liable for a deceptive ad.

CP 118.03  Advertising Layout

The following constitute unfair and deceptive acts or practices:

(a) FOOTNOTES AND ASTERISKS: Using footnotes or asterisks which, alone or in combination, contradict, confuse, significantly alter or unreasonably limit the principal message of the ad.

(b) PRINT SIZE: Using any type size so small that it is not easily readable if it alters a principal message of the ad.

(c) COLOR CONTRASTS: Using color contrasts which render the text difficult to read if it alters a principal message of the ad.

(d) PHOTOS AND ILLUSTRATIONS: Using inaccurate photographs or illustrations when describing specific automobiles.

(e) ABBREVIATIONS AND TECHNICAL JARGON: Using any unexplained abbreviations or technical jargon which is unfamiliar to the general public, with respect to any aspect of the advertisement on which consumers could reasonably be expected to rely, if it would significantly alter the ad.

CP 118.04  Specific Advertising Provisions

(a) MOTOR VEHICLE DETAILS: When the price or credit terms of a motor vehicle are advertised in any print media, the ad shall identify the vehicle as to year, make, and model.

(b) "FACTORY" AND "EXECUTIVE" VEHICLES: A motor vehicle shall not be advertised:

(1) as a "factory" vehicle if it is not new.

(2) as an "executive" vehicle unless it has been used exclusively by factory, manufacturer, or distributor personnel.

(3) as "new" if the motor vehicle is a driver education vehicle, unless the vehicle is disclosed as such.

(c) "FULLY EQUIPPED," "LOADED," ETC.: A vehicle shall not be advertised in any print media as "fully equipped" or "loaded," or similar terms unless the following minimum equipment is available in that make or model: air conditioning, power steering, power brakes, AM/FM radio, power windows, and cruise control.

(d) PRICE: An advertised selling price shall represent the actual total purchase price of the vehicle, excluding only tax, registration, and title fees. For example, any freight or destination charges or dealer preparation fees shall be included in the advertised price. Dealer installed options or accessories which are required or routinely installed on every vehicle, or which are already installed on the advertised vehicle at the time the ad appears, shall also be included in the advertised price. Only options to be installed at the request of the customer shall be omitted from the advertised price.

(e) SUPPLEMENTAL STICKER PRICES: When a vehicle is offered for sale for which a Monroney sticker is required by the federal Automobile Information Disclosure Act, the dealer shall not charge more than the manufacturer's suggested retail price as defined in section 11 8.05(k)(1) unless the dealer's asking price or supplemental price is disclosed on a supplemental sticker adjacent to the window sticker.

(f) SALES PRICE AVAILABLE TO ALL: Advertised vehicles shall be sold at or below the advertised price regardless of whether the customer has actually seen the advertised price prior to the sale, unless the ad discloses that a customer must bring the ad to the dealer in order to receive the sale price, and the sale price is not given to anyone who does not do so.

(g) AVAILABILITY: During the course of an advertised sale, there shall be a sufficient supply of the advertised vehicles at the advertised price on the dealer's lot to meet reasonably expected public demand, or the ad shall disclose the number of vehicles available on the lot at the advertised price. If a vehicle is not in stock but is available only by order, the ad shall disclose this fact; in that case, the dealership must be able to deliver the car within a reasonable amount of time. "Reasonably expected public demand" shall be determined in relation to a period of time equal to the duration of the ad or five days, whichever is longer. This provision does not require, however, that the total supply necessary to meet reasonably expected public demand for an entire sale need be available on the dealer's lot for the full duration of the sale or on any particular day of the sale.

(h) DURATION OF ADVERTISEMENT: An advertised sale or offer shall last for five days after the ad is disseminated, unless otherwise noted, or unless the duration is shortened because the sale or offer was made in error as defined in section 118.02(e) and the dealer has corrected the error with a new ad within the five-day period. If the duration of the advertised sale or offer is for some other, limited amount of time, then this time limitation shall be disclosed in the ad.

CP 118.05  Savings Claims, Rebates, and Trade-ins

The following advertising practices constitute unfair or deceptive acts or practices in commerce:

(a) VOLUME DEALER: Using statements about dealership size, sales volume or inventory to represent or imply that the dealer sells motor vehicles at a lower price, as a result of such size, volume or inventory, than do other dealers, unless that fact is true.

(b) "FACTORY OUTLET": Using terms such as "factory outlet," "factory authorized sale," or similar terms (which imply that the dealer has a special connection or relationship with the manufacturer that is greater or more direct than that of other dealers), when in fact no such special connection or relationship exists, or when any such special connection or relationship has no discernible effect on vehicle prices.

(c) "LIQUIDATION SALE": Advertising a "liquidation sale," "public notice," "public sale," or similar terms, where the sale is not required by court order, by operation of law, or by impending cessation of the dealer's business.

(d) "FREE": Using the word "free" or similar terms ("bonus," "no charge," etc.) in connection with the purchase of a vehicle whose price is arrived at through bargaining, or if the offer is contingent on purchasing something whose price is marked up to recover all or part of the cost of the "free" merchandise.

(e) "DEALER COST," "DEALER INVOICE," ETC.: Using terms which represent that a vehicle is available for sale at a price below cost, at cost, or slightly above cost, such as "dealer cost," "dealer invoice," "inventory price," "factory invoice," "wholesale," "factory billing," or similar terms when:

(1) the price in fact includes holdbacks or other payments or credits from the manufacturer to the dealer; or

(2) dealer profit will be made up by a decreased trade-in allowance and/or increased finance charges.

(f) UNSUBSTANTIATED PRICING: Advertising "lowest prices," "lower prices than anyone else," "lowest prices of the year," or similar terms, if such claims cannot be substantiated by the dealer.

(g) "AS LOW AS," "FROM," "REBATES UP TO," and STOCK NUMBER ADS: Using the terms "as low as [a certain price or finance charge]," "from [a certain price]," "rebates up to [a certain dollar amount]," or similar terms, or stating a stock number, unless, during the course of the advertised sale, either:

(1) there is on the dealer's lot a sufficient supply of the advertised vehicles at the lowest advertised price or with the highest advertised rebate (as the case may be) to meet reasonably expected public demand, or

(2) the ad discloses the number of vehicles available on the dealer's lot at the lowest advertised price or with the highest advertised rebate (as the case may be). The number of vehicles may be disclosed by stating the stock number or numbers of the vehicles, using the words "stock number" or a recognizable abbreviation of those words. "Reasonably expected public demand" shall be determined in relation to a period of time equal to the duration of the ad or five days, whichever is longer. This provision does not require, however, that the total supply necessary to meet reasonably expected public demand for an entire sale need be available on the dealer's lot for the full duration of the sale or on any particular day of the sale.

(h) REBATE OFFERS: Advertising a "rebate" or similar terms unless the rebate is provided through a manufacturer's rebate program. If the selling price of the advertised vehicle will be increased to offset the rebate in part or in whole, the ad shall disclose this fact.

(i) "MONEY-BACK GUARANTEES" OR "FREE TRIALS": Advertising "satisfaction guaranteed," "money-back guarantee," "risk free trial," or similar terms unless the dealer will readily refund the full purchase price of the vehicle at the buyer's request, and any conditions or limitations are disclosed.

(j) TRADE-INS:

(1) Advertising a minimum or "guaranteed" trade-in, or similar terms, without also disclosing that the selling price of the advertised vehicle is or may be higher than it would have been but for the minimum trade-in, if that is the case.

(2) Advertising that a specific price will be paid for trade-in vehicles unless either the advertised price will be paid for all such vehicles, or the ad discloses any conditions which such vehicles must meet before such price will be paid.

(3) Using terms such as "up to $x" to describe the range of prices that will be paid for trade-in vehicles unless the ad discloses the factors (such as age, condition or mileage) that will be used to determine the amount to be paid for a particular trade-in vehicle.

(k) COMPARATIVE PRICING: Violating Consumer Protection Rule (CP) 110 (Deceptive Pricing), except that a dealer may advertise a comparison with a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP), as long as:

(1) the advertised MSRP is in fact the "bottom line" manufacturer's suggested retail price listed on the Monroney sticker (including all accessories and options physically attached to the vehicle at the time of delivery to the dealer, and any charge to the dealer for transportation to the dealer), after all manufacturer discounts and manufacturer savings listed on the Monroney sticker have been deducted;

(2) the advertised MSRP does not include any charges added by the dealer;

(3) the advertised MSRP is referred to as the "manufacturer's suggested retail price" or "MSRP";

(4) the advertisement clearly and conspicuously discloses that "the manufacturer's suggested retail price [or MSRP] is a price set by the manufacturer and does not necessarily reflect the price actually paid by consumers," using these or similar words; and

(5) the advertisement does not otherwise conflict with or detract from these requirements and disclosures.

(i) MANUFACTURER DISCOUNTS: Advertising a discount offered by the manufacturer, including manufacturer rebates and other reductions in prices offered by the manufacturer, without disclosing that the manufacturer is the source of the discount.

CP 118.06  Credit Sales and Lease Advertising

(a) FINANCING RATES: If an advertised financing rate will affect the price of a vehicle, that fact shall be disclosed. Where financing is described in terms that do not trigger disclosures under the federal Truth-in-Lending Act (for example, "below market financing"), the ad shall nevertheless disclose all conditions and limitations on the advertised financing other than creditworthiness. For instance, a dealer shall not fail to disclose a required down payment or short term of loan.

(b) "NO MONEY DOWN": The statement "no money down" or similar terms means that the dealer will deliver the advertised vehicle, so described, to the purchaser without any initial payment or other initial obligation other than the negotiation of a lien contract for the advertised purchase price.

(c) "EVERYBODY FINANCED": A dealer shall not advertise "everybody financed," "no credit rejected," "we finance anyone," or similar terms implying that no prospective credit purchaser will be rejected because of his or her inability to qualify for credit or some other reason unless such statements are in fact true. If as a result of extending credit in these circumstances the dealer will increase the price of the vehicle, the ad shall disclose this fact.

CP119 - Charitable Solicitations

SUBJECT: CONSUMER PROTECTION – CHARITABLE SOLICITATIONS ATTORNEY GENERAL – PUBLIC PROTECTION UNIT

ADOPTED PURSUANT TO 9 V.S.A. § 2479(b)

RULE CP 119

Effective Date: 11/23/99

CP 119.01 Definitions
CP 119.02 Obligation to Comply with Rule
CP 119.03 Incorporation of Statutory Requirements by Reference
CP 119.04 Information on Notice of Solicitation
CP 119.05 Additional Information Following Filing of Notice of Solicitation
CP 119.06 Information on Financial Report
CP 119.07 Disclosure of Availability of Information to Public
CP 119.08 Prohibited Practices
CP 119.09 Effective Date

CP 119.01  Definitions

The following definitions apply to this rule:

(a)   "Affiliate" means an entity owned or controlled in whole or in part by a paid fundraiser or by any officer, director or owner of the fundraiser.

(b)   "Clear and conspicuous" means that the required disclosures are presented in such a manner, given their size, color, contrast and proximity to any related information, as to be readily noticed and understood by consumers. A disclosure is not clear and conspicuous if, among other things, it is ambiguous, or if it is obscured by the background against which it appears or by its location within a lengthy disclosure of non-material information. In addition:

(1) In the case of a written solicitation for a contribution containing the disclosures required by CP 119.07, "clear and conspicuous" also means that those disclosures must appear in a free-standing paragraph in the same document in which the request for a contribution appears, and that the text of the disclosures must be printed in regular (non-italicized, non-boldface) ten-point type, using New Times Roman, Arial or some other font of comparable legibility, with normal upper and lower-case letters and normal spacing between letters, words, and lines; except that the heading of the disclosure required by CP 119.07(b) must appear in bold 12-point type immediately above the rest of the disclosure.

(2) In the case of an oral communication, "clear and conspicuous" also means that the information is presented in a manner that a consumer will hear and understand, at a normal speed in the same tone and volume as used to make the solicitation.

(c) "Charity" means a "charitable organization" as that term is defined in 9 V.S.A. § 2471(2).

(d) "Contribution," "contributor," "fundraising campaign," "gross receipts" and "paid fundraiser" have the same meanings as are given to those terms in 9 V.S.A. §§ 2471(4), (5), (6), (7) and (8), respectively.

(e) "Goods and services" have the same meaning as is given to those terms in 9 V.S.A. § 2451a(b), and include, without limitation, publications, advertising in publications, and tickets to entertainment or similar events.

(f) "Solicit" and "solicitation" have the same meaning as is given to those terms in 9 V.S.A. § 2471(9), including, without limitation, invoices and similar documents for pledged donations. A person who, directly or through agents, helps develop a charitable organization's fundraising mailings, produces such mailings and sends them to prospective contributors is engaged in solicitation.

CP 119.02  Obligation to Comply with Rule

It shall constitute an unfair and deceptive act or practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A. § 2453 (a) for any person to violate any provision of this rule.

CP 119.03  Incorporation of Statutory Requirements by Reference

The disclosure requirements contained in this rule are in addition to those set forth in 9 V.S.A. ch. 63, subch. 2.

CP 119.04  Information on Notice of Solicitation

(a) In addition to information otherwise required by 9 V.S.A. § 2473, a paid fundraiser shall provide with the fundraiser's notice of solicitation:

(1) The name, residential address, and telephone number of the owner(s) of the paid fundraiser.

(2) The residential address of all individuals required to be identified under 9 V.S.A. §§ 2473(a)(l) (officers and directors of paid fundraiser) and 2473(a)(7) (members of immediate family of principals of paid fundraiser);

(3) The fax number and email address of the paid fundraiser, the name and title of the paid fundraiser's primary contact person, and contact information on the paid fundraiser's attorney, if any.

(4) The residential address and telephone number of all persons who will solicit during the fundraising campaign, including employees and agents of, and individuals in privity with, the paid fundraiser, and employees and agents of, and individuals in privity with, any individual or company with whom the fundraiser has contracted to solicit contributions during that campaign.

(5) A summary of the terms of the contract governing compensation to the fundraiser and payment of other fundraising expenses, as set out on the notice of solicitation form prescribed by the Office of Attorney General, including, but not limited to, the minimum percentage of contributions guaranteed to the charity, and how the paid fundraiser is to be compensated;

(6) The primary purpose(s) of the campaign, including, but not limited to, obtaining the names of new donors, recontacting prior donors, and raising funds for the charity's charitable programs;

(7) A description of the methods that will be used to solicit contributions, as set out on the notice of solicitation form prescribed by the Office of Attorney General;

(8) If contributions will be solicited in whole or in part by telephone, the name and residential address of the office manager or other person in charge at each location;

(9) Whether the campaign will include the sale of goods or services, and if so, a description of the goods or services;

(10) The nature, location, dates, parties, claims and outcome of any civil litigation, criminal prosecution or governmental investigation concerning the solicitation activity of, or alleging dishonesty or fraud on the part of, the fundraiser, its owners, officers, directors employees or solicitors, or any entity affiliated with the fundraiser by ownership or control in any jurisdiction occurring at any time within six years prior to the commencement of the fundraising campaign in Vermont;

(11)  If any member of the immediate family of an officer, director or owner of the paid fundraiser, or any entity owned in whole or in part by an officer, director, or owner of the paid fundraiser, will receive any money in connection with the solicitation campaign, that person's or entity's telephone number, a description of the affiliation, and the nature of the work for which the person or entity will be compensated;

(12) The name and address of any bank or other depository institution where contributions solicited during the fundraising campaign will be deposited;

(13) All proper names which will be used to describe the fundraiser and the charity in the course of soliciting contributions;

(14) A statement that the bond required by 9 V.S.A. § 2473(b) is in full force and effect;

(15) The state of incorporation of the paid fundraiser; and

(16) The name, address, telephone number and title of the primary contact person at the charity.

(b) The Attorney General may require the information required to be provided in the notice of solicitation under 9 V.S.A. § 2473 and this rule to be submitted to his office electronically, with an appropriate verification as to the accuracy of the information.

CP 119.05  Additional Information Following Filing of Notice of Solicitation

Upon written request of the Office of Attorney General, and within ten (10) days of receipt of such request, a paid fundraiser shall supplement the notice of solicitation by providing the following information in writing to the Office of Attorney General:

(a) All available substantiation of any factual claims made by the fundraiser in the course of a fundraising campaign in Vermont; and

(b) A copy of all telephone scripts and rebuttals, written materials, and other communications used or made in connection with soliciting contributions from residents of Vermont, and any recordings of such communications.

CP 119.06  Information on Financial Report

(a) In addition to the information required by 9 V.S.A. § 2477 to be included with a paid fundraiser's financial report, a paid fundraiser shall provide the following information with the fundraiser's financial report:

(1) The total gross receipts from residents of Vermont, or, if this information cannot through due diligence be obtained by the paid fundraiser, then the paid fundraiser's best estimate of this figure, accompanied by an explanation of how the estimate was arrived at;

(2) A description of how the gross receipts from residents of Vermont were distributed, including the total of the itemized expenses, commissions and other costs of the campaign, and the net amount paid to the charity for its charitable purposes after payment of all fundraising expenses, commissions and other costs; or, if this information cannot through due diligence be obtained by the paid fundraiser, then the paid fundraiser's best estimate of these figures, accompanied by an explanation of how the estimate was arrived at;

(3) The percentage of gross receipts from residents of Vermont that is made up by the total of fundraising expenses, commissions and other costs; or, if this information cannot through due diligence be obtained by the paid fundraiser, then the paid fundraiser's best estimate of this figure, accompanied by an explanation of how the estimate was arrived at;

(4) The percentage of gross receipts from residents of Vermont that is made up by the net amount paid to the charity for its charitable purposes after payment of all fundraising expenses, commissions and other costs; or, if this information cannot through due diligence be obtained by the paid fundraiser, then the paid fundraiser's best estimate of this figure, accompanied by an explanation of how the estimate was arrived at;

(5) The period covered by the financial report, the date, if any, that the campaign was terminated early, and whether the financial report is the final report for that campaign; and

(6) Whether the charity has reviewed the financial report, and if so, the name and title of the reviewer.

(b) For the purpose of subsection (a), above, if contributors are requested to send their contributions directly to the charity, and the charity then pays the paid fundraiser for conducting the campaign, the net amount paid to the charity is the total of contributions less the amount the charity pays to the paid fundraiser in connection with the campaign.

(c) The Attorney General may require the information required to be provided in the financial report under 9 V.S.A. § 2477 and this rule to be submitted to his office electronically, with an appropriate verification as to the accuracy of the information and as to the fact that a representative of the charity has reviewed the information.

CP 119.07  Disclosure of Availability of Information to the Public

(a) A paid fundraiser shall clearly and conspicuously disclose, to every person from whom it solicits a contribution, both orally, if the paid fundraiser is soliciting in whole or in part by telephone, and in writing, if the paid fundraiser is soliciting in whole or in part by means of writing, that the fundraiser is being paid by the charity on whose behalf the solicitation is being made.

(b) A paid fundraiser shall also clearly and conspicuously make an oral disclosure in substantially the following form to every person from whom it solicits a contribution in whole or in part by telephone (the stated sources of information may be updated by the Office of the Vermont Attorney General from time to time):

To find out how much of your contribution goes to the charity and how much to the paid fundraiser, call the Vermont Attorney General's Office at 1-800-649-2424, or log onto the Attorney General's website.

(c) In addition to any other disclosure required by this section, a paid fundraiser shall clearly and conspicuously provide a written disclosure in substantially the following form to every person from whom it solicits a contribution in whole or in part by means of writing. (The stated sources of information may be updated by the Office of the Vermont Attorney General from time to time.)

How Contributions Are Allocated Between Charity and Fundraiser

For information on how much of your contribution goes to the charity and how much to the paid fundraiser, contact the Vermont Consumer Assistance Program, Morrill Hall, UVM, Burlington, VT 05405, tel. 1-800-649-2424, or the Vermont Attorney General's Internet website, http://www.atg.state.vt.us.

CP 119.08  Prohibited Practices

It is an unfair and deceptive trade act and practice in commerce for a paid fundraiser or charity to:

(a) Misrepresent any material fact in the course of soliciting a contribution, including, but not limited to:

(1) The identity or affiliation of the solicitor or paid fundraiser;

(2) The purpose for which the contribution will be used, or for which any past contributions have been used;

(3) The existence of any past contribution from the prospective contributor or any other person or persons; and

(4) The location or address of the paid fundraiser or charity.

(b) Use a Vermont address (including a Vermont return address) in any solicitation unless (i) the charity actually maintains and staffs an office at that address, or (ii) any solicitation containing the Vermont address discloses, immediately proximate to the Vermont address and in a manner which is no less prominent than that of the most prominent statement of the Vermont address, both the address of the charity's actual headquarters and the fact that the Vermont address is a "mail drop," using this or a substantially similar term that clearly conveys the message that the Vermont address is solely that of a mail handling facility.

CP 119.09  Effective Date

The amendments to this rule shall become effective 30 days from the date the adopted rule is filed with the Secretary of State.

CP120 - Representations of Vermont Origin

SUBJECT: CONSUMER PROTECTION – REPRESENTATIONS OF VERMONT ORIGIN

ATTORNEY GENERAL – PUBLIC PROTECTION UNIT

ADOPTED PURSUANT TO 9 V.S.A. § 2453(c)

RULE CP 120

Effective Date: 1/5/06

CP 120.01 Definitions
CP 120.02 Scope of the Rule
CP 120.03 General Provisions
CP 120.04 Unqualified Representations of Vermont Origin
CP 120.05 Qualified Representations of Vermont Origin
CP 120.06 Company Names
CP 120.07 Company Location
CP 120.08 Requirement of Substantiation
CP 120.09 Effect on, and of, Other Provisions of Vermont Law
CP 120.10 Effective Date

CP 120.01  Definitions

(a) "Based in Vermont" means, with reference to a company, that the company currently discharges substantial functions in Vermont. For this purpose, "substantial functions" do not include such activities as the original development of the goods or services, mail handling or banking, or the presence of sales, distribution or similar staff alone.

(b) "Clear and conspicuous" means that required disclosures are presented in such a manner, given their language, syntax, graphics, size, color, contrast and proximity to any related information, as to be readily noticed and understood by consumers. A disclosure is not clear and conspicuous if, among other things, it is ambiguous or it is obscured by the background against which it appears, or by its location within a lengthy disclosure of non-material information. If this rule requires a disclosure to be made in a clear and conspicuous manner, then, in addition to the above, the disclosure must appear

(i) for the purpose of labeling, in proximity to the representation that it qualifies and in typeface that is at least 5 percent of the height of the label, or 3/16 of an inch high, whichever is larger (one disclosure on the front panel of the label is sufficient for this purpose), except that the disclosure need not be any larger than the largest representation of "Vermont" on the label; or

(ii) at point of sale (including on the Internet or in a catalog), sufficiently prominent as not to be missed by reasonable consumers before they make their purchase.

(c) A company name is used in "close association" with a food product when the name appears on the product's label or packaging or otherwise refers specifically to the product, provided that a company name that appears in small type other than on the front panel and for purposes of compliance with another law or regulation is not "in close association" with the product.

(d) "Company name" means two or more words that clearly indicate a business entity or facility (whether registered with the government or not), through the use of words such as "incorporated," "company," "cooperative," "Farms," "Cannery," or "of Vermont" (as in "John's of Vermont").

(e) "Food product" includes any food, whether processed or not.

(f) "Front panel" means the front or primary panel or section of a product container or package.

(g) "Made in Vermont" means that the item in question was last substantially transformed in Vermont into a new and different item, with a name, character or use distinct from that of the ingredients or components from which it was transformed.

(h) "Person" includes any natural person, corporation, partnership, unincorporated association and other business entity.

(i) "Primary ingredient" means:

(i)  one or more ingredients that each constitute a major portion of the quantity, volume or value of a food product; or

(ii) an ingredient that is prominently identified in connection with a food product other than in a company name;

except that an ingredient is not "primary" if it is not indigenous to Vermont (such as cocoa or sugar). For this purpose, "indigenous" means commonly grown or raised in Vermont, though not necessarily in substantial commercial quantities.

(j) "Producer" means a person or company that grows, manufactures or otherwise creates something that is offered or sold.

(k) "Qualified representation of Vermont origin" means a representation containing the word "Vermont" or a substantially similar term that states in what respect a good or service is connected to Vermont (such as "made in Vermont" or "contains Vermont tomatoes").

(1) "Representation" and "represent" refer to any words, symbols or other graphic device made in connection with the advertising, marketing or sale of a good or service. Representations may appear, without limitation, in print media, on broadcast media, by electronic means (such as e­mail or the Internet), and on labels, signs and displays.

(m) "Unqualified representation of Vermont origin" means a representation containing the word "Vermont" or a substantially similar term that appears in connection with a food product or ingredient without stating how the product or ingredient is connected to Vermont (such as "Vermont cheddar cheese").

(n) A food product is a "Vermont product" if:

(i) any company whose name appears in connection with the product is based in Vermont;

(ii) the product, if substantially transformed, was made in Vermont; and

(iii)  its primary or prominently identified ingredient comes from Vermont, provided that this requirement must be met only with respect to (A) a product that does not undergo substantial transformation (such as milk or water); (B) a product with one primary ingredient commonly known to consumers (such as cider and apples or cheese and milk); and (C) a product for which the word "Vermont" or a substantially similar term, other than in a company name, is proximately used to describe a specific ingredient (such as "Vermont blueberry jam").

CP 120.02  Scope of the Rule

(a) The provisions of this rule on unqualified representations and company names apply only to the offer or sale of a food product (as defined in CP 120.01(e)).

(b) The remainder of this rule applies to all goods and services wherever offered or sold.

CP 120.03  General Provisions

(a) It is an unfair and deceptive trade act or practice in commerce under 9 V.S.A. § 2453(a) for any person to make a representation that does not comply with this rule, excepting only violations of this rule that are de minimis or the result of accident beyond the producer's control, as long as the producer both had systems or procedures in place to ensure compliance with the rule and took reasonable steps to minimize the extent of the non-compliance.

(b) Terms such as "Green Mountain," "Lake Champlain," local town names and other similar geographic descriptors are not covered by this rule.

(c) For the purpose of this rule:

(i) a primary ingredient or other component shall be considered to come from Vermont if at least 75 percent of the ingredient or component comes from Vermont, except that fresh produce shall be considered to come from Vermont only if 100 percent of the produce is grown in Vermont; and

(ii) an item shall be considered to be made in Vermont if at least 75 percent of the items sold in Vermont are made in Vermont.

All percentages under this subsection may be calculated in the aggregate over as long as a consecutive twelve-month period.

(d) A representation that is not covered by this rule is still subject to the prohibition on unfair and deceptive trade acts or practices in commerce under 9 V.S.A. § 2453(a).

CP 120.04  Unqualified Representations of Vermont Origin

No person shall make an unqualified representation of Vermont origin in connection with a food product that is not a Vermont product.

CP 120.05  Qualified Representations of Vermont Origin

No person shall make a qualified representation of Vermont origin unless:

(a)   the qualifying language is accurate; and

(b)   the qualifying language is proximate to, and substantially as prominent as, the term "Vermont" that it modifies.

CP 120.06  Company Names

No person shall represent a company name that includes the word "Vermont" or any substantially similar term in close association with a food product that is not a Vermont product unless the representation is accompanied by the following clear and conspicuous disclosures in the manner described in this section or at the point of sale as described in CP 120.01(b)(ii):

(a) If the company is not based in Vermont, then information sufficient to communicate that fact must be disclosed somewhere on the product.

(b) If the product was not made in Vermont, then information sufficient to indicate the geographic area where the product was made must be disclosed on the front panel (such as "Made in Ohio," "Product of New England," or "Made in USA").

(c) If the product is one that, under the definition of "Vermont product," is required to have a primary ingredient that comes from Vermont, but in fact such ingredient comes from outside of Vermont, then information sufficient to indicate the geographic area where the ingredient comes from must be disclosed on the front panel (such as "Made from New England apples" or "Northeast blend syrup").

(d) Notwithstanding the above, the requirements of subsections (b) and (c) of this section are satisfied if either the product was made in Vermont or a primary ingredient comes from Vermont, provided that:

there is a disclosure on the front panel that the product was made in Vermont, or that a primary ingredient comes from Vermont, as the case may be; and

there is a disclosure, not necessarily on the front panel, that the product was made outside of Vermont, or that a primary ingredient comes from outside of Vermont, as the case may be.

CP 120.07  Company Location

(a) No person shall use a Vermont address in any representation to describe the location of the seller, solicitor, producer, distributor or other person associated with a good or service unless the company is based in Vermont, except that the label on an item regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) need only conform to applicable FDA address requirements.

(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a), a company whose business it is to ship, distribute, or similarly process goods or provide services may use a Vermont address to describe the location of its own facilities in Vermont. The company may also use, and permit the use of, its own name and Vermont address, as long as the company also discloses the name and out-of-state address of its client to identify where payments, returns, customer service inquiries, or similar transactions should be directed, and, when shipping goods, may use the name of the out-of-state client without that client's address as long as the out-of-state address is provided within a reasonably short period of time, such as on an invoice. A shipper or fulfillment house may not use, or permit the use of, a Vermont address to describe the location of its out-of-state client in connection with the advertising, marketing, or selling of the client's goods or services.

CP 120.08 Requirement of Substantiation

In addition to any other requirement of this rule, a person who makes a representation covered by this rule must, at the time the representation is made, possess reasonable factual substantiation for the representation.

CP 120.09 Effect on, and of, Other Provisions of Vermont Law

(a) Nothing in this rule shall limit the rights or remedies available to the State of Vermont or to consumers with respect to representations not covered by this rule, or under any other provision of Vermont law.

(b) If a statute or another rule of an agency of the State of Vermont contains a standard that is more stringent with respect to any representation of Vermont origin covered by this rule, the more stringent standard shall prevail over the corresponding standard in this rule and shall be incorporated herein by reference.

CP 120.10 Effective Date

(a) This rule shall become effective 90 days after its adoption and shall apply to all food products, or to all goods and services, as applicable, that are placed into the stream of commerce after the effective date of the rule.

(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, a person that sells or markets a good or service subject to this rule shall have one year from the effective date of this rule, or the time it takes to use up marketing materials in stock at the time the rule is adopted, whichever is shorter, to bring product labels or packaging into compliance with the sections of the rule on unqualified representations and company names, provided that this grace period does not apply to qualified representations.